London Pretty Little Alaïas
May 10th–October 7th
Azzedine Alaïa’s death last November sent waves of grief across the fashion world. The Tunisian-born designer rose to prominence in the 1980s with close-fitting dresses, popular with celebrities, that earned him the nickname the “King of Cling”. A master of precision, he designed his clothes by draping material onto live models and cutting around the human frame. This exhibition, at the Design Museum, was planned with Alaïa in the months before his death and features 60 pieces. What was intended as a celebration of his work will now serve as a timely examination of his life and legacy.
Copenhagen Mistress of colour
May 3rd–August 19th
When the artists of the avant-garde Der Blaue Reiter group exploded onto the scene in Munich in 1911, they dazzled with their experimental works and audacious use of colour. Gabriele Münter, a German artist, was a founding member of the group. Throughout her long career – which spanned every major 20th-century art movement from Impressionism to Fauvism – Münter was at the forefront of innovation. Until recently, however, her work has been overshadowed by that of her famous lover, Wassily Kandinsky. A retrospective at Copenhagen’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art sets out to correct that, bringing the work of this great artist to light.
Franschhoek Brought to books
With the South African government (hopefully) entering a brave new era, this year’s Franschhoek Literary Festival is sure to be a corker. Held in the winelands town of Franschhoek, it will feature debates, conversations and workshops. One author sure to pull in the crowds is Jacques Pauw, whose book, “The President’s Keepers”, exposes the dark secrets of former president Jacob Zuma’s government. Expect further insights from Redi Tlhabi, author of “Khwezi”, which tells the story of a woman who accused Zuma of rape, and explores how politics and power risk silencing her. International names include Gregg Hurwitz, author of the “Orphan X” series.
Edinburgh Celtic Spring
As night falls on the last day of April, scale the volcanic Calton Hill. To the west glimmer the lights of the castle; below the Firth stretches east to the sea. In the gathering darkness, drums beat. This is Beltane, the battle between winter and summer. The Beltane Fire Society draws on Edinburgh’s theatrical expertise to put on a night of bacchanalia, acrobatics and pyrotechnics. Thousands gather to see the May Queen lead her White Court to face the Horned God of Winter who must die and be resurrected in his summer garb as the Green Man. Take a flask of good single malt to keep off the chill and toast the victory of summer.
Marfa Cultural desert
In the middle of the Texan desert stands a Prada shop surrounded by nothing but scrub and sky. It’s a surreal sight, but don’t bother pulling over: it isn’t open. In fact it’s not a shop, but a work of art and a roadmarker, of sorts, signalling: “This way to Marfa”. Ever since the 1970s, when Donald Judd moved to this small town, artists such as Elmgreen & Dragset (who were behind the Prada shop) have followed in his wake. Every April visitor numbers swell as people descend on the town to check out the many exhibitions and gigs put on by Marfa Myths, festival-makers with a Brooklynite’s taste in music and a West Coast embrace of light and space. For those who wish Basel had more music or Coachella more art.