Sunday, April 13, 2014

Galliano and de la Renta Marriage cancelled!

a birdy told me...

What passes for news? It shows you just how far we've come when almost 2 years ago, the universal smack down of John Galliano from his Olympus perch was the passing of gas heard and smelled round the world. Remember how stricken the good people of Vogue, Harper's, International Conde Nast, and every other rag worth its weight in ads. The lines were so clearly drawn over this "problem" that you'd think the earth had cracked open with the beliebers on one side and the who gives a shits on the other, which would include all of the offended faith based shoppers and the shoppers who couldn't afford the high cost of faith or his clothes. The shock of his precipitous fall, the court appearances, the suave hats and soberly colored suits, the downcast gaze, the drooping mini-stache, his look of befuddlement, the constant airplay/YouTube play of the rants in question at La Perle, the offended patrons who baited him, laughed and kept their phone's video app rolling, the loss of his job at Dior, the loss of stewardship of his eponymous collection, the search for a suitably glamorous Centre de Rehab, the rallying of his friends using their pull at the same said Centre de Rehab where they've all taken the waters, as it were, all of that.... Remember? Barely.

No to the nuptials...
My Mom is the ultimate disseminator of news. If it's not on CNN, then sorry, it ain't news. Mommie doesn't let a moment pass on any given day that CNN is in her direct sight lines or loudly playing in the background. I asked if she'd heard about Oscar and Galliano's negotiations to take the wheel of La Finca de la Renta. "No, Baby", she said. "There's that terrible funeral for the firemen in Boston, the plane to nowhere is still, well, nowhere to be found and I heard from Aunt Willie. Her pneumonia is much better." End of news flash. It wasn't til I was at the gym, pumping iron, kicking ass and watching Maury Povich on the monitors with some Baby Daddy and his accusing ex he'd never to that moment met, let alone, lay with, in the biblical sense (straight out of Johnny Weir's lips re. his divorce proceedings against his Russian husband, make up sex was NOT happening after a fist fight. Some people just don't know when to kiss and lay) that my trainer JOE LAZO of LAZO FITNESS and a budding reality star of a pilot in the works for Bravo, "Fit and Frisky", that Galliano's demands for a studio of the quality he's used to employing was just too, trou, cher, (means expensive). I had to get the news from my fitness Guru who also happens to be my life coach and personal savior. I've learned more about women from him than in the 30 years I designed clothes for them, but that is another story, too long, too steamy and too damn fascinating to take the time here. He'd read it in WWD and though it was a Thursday, NYTimes Style section day, not a word was printed, not even on their blog. ZILCH. None of the important newspapers bothered to mention it at all.

I ran to the showers where Paul Wilmot, the uber-P.R. guy through the ages and yes, a member of my gym, was showering after his grueling routine. I whipped back the curtain just as the soap fell to the floor and asked him what the skinny was. He didn't answer, just kept reaching  for the soap. Dismayed, I ran from the gym, no towel, no clothes, NO HAIR and made a bee-line for 7th Ave to get to the bottom of the story. The cops grabbed me. They were unmoved by my plight and also unable to shed any light of the issue. With hand-cuffs and leg chains and a tranquilizer dart still dangling from my haunch, I wasn't moving either.

Joe Lazo/Lazo Fitness/my trainer and Guru
 Eventually I was released thanks to Cathy Horyn and Eric Wilson who vouched for me. As both are no longer at the Times they were as clueless as yours truly. Suzy Menkes was gonna come too but was still tied up at Conde Nasty hammering out her new deal with Madame le Ambassadresse de Wintour. But that's ok, Suzy never would have made it through security with that hairy nob on her head. It wasn't til I got home and turned on my computer that I dug it up under layers and layers of the 3rd rate news feeds online. Crap like London's Telegraph, Daily Beast, Daily News, The Cut and Fashionista, the blog that banned me and my comments in my infancy. What an afterthought it all was. The de la Renta's and their brilliant stewards, the hapless son-in-law and his spoiled, unpleasant wife whose mom is Mommy de la Renta. Between the two they could barely tie a bow or tell a sequin from a paillette. With so much money (maybe there isn't as much as there was) you'd think they'd do all they could to land such a big fish, guaranteeing buzz, the retreading of their listing brand and even make some great clothes in the process. well, um, no. Not happening. Hence, not newsy.

So back to ambulance chasing, searching for the next fashion star, continuing the search for missing fashion stars and waiting for the next episode of Game of Thrones. Now that's news.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Saint Laurent Fall2014: Toot Toot, Ahh, Beep Beep!

Fashion shows nowadays too often bring out the very worst in people. By people I mean the designer and the audience. A lazy, self absorbed designer is as unlikely to go that extra mile as is an audience so starved for anything resembling something new that they will cheer anything hanging from the shoulders of a model as long as it’s coming from a “brand “of note. This sheep mentality only encourages overpaid, under-achieving talents to do even less on an ever grander scale.

Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent is a case in point. His collection for Fall2014 though more coherent than last season is again a parade of mod, Edie Sedgwick-inspired naughty, nasty girls that had their day when heroin addiction, cinematic bad behavior and self-destruction were the pre-requisites for 15 minutes of fame. Well that along with pet rocks, Opium perfume and Escher prints on your dorm room walls should be things of the past. The “Slim-mutts” or "Slum-mettes" take your pick, Hedi’s posse of bad girls, sulked down his runway with its golden beams that rose and fell hydraulically creating an alee’ one minute and a tunnel to nowhere the next were all parodies of naughtiness. These fetishized girl/women in their little leather skirts, micro-mini kilts, tights and multi-strapped Mary Janes were like a pack of zombies come back for blood. With enormous eyes, long lank hair and knobby knees, they made a valiant attempt at taking charge of the conversation, if the dull drone of mumbling counts as conversation…

Coats were best. Capes were redundant by then, as everyone had gotten the memo that capes were it. Little shift dresses in gold sequins with na├»ve abstract shapes tossed on them or as a jungle of animal prints came one after the other with little effect. They were too close to the regrettable little Baby Doll dresses of last season that looked poor. But considering Slimane is challenged to find novel ways to tell the one sliver of a story he has to share, there’s little else to trot out to drive home the point. Leather biker jackets took up some slack but not in any way that seemed new.

The furs were the most glaring items to raise the question of just what is luxury to the house of Saint Laurent. No Broadtail, Sable, Chinchilla or other exotic fur or skins were in evidence. Not one bit of croc was anywhere in evidence except one fawn colored mink  jacket, so pretty it stuck out like a sore thumb. It must have belonged to a model that refused to take it off. Otherwise, the coats and jackets were cut from “plates” of assembled fur scraps. These plates consist of bits and bobs from the bellies, tails, armpits, ears and butts of furs, in this instance sable. Many of those little pieces that make up this collage are paws. This is not a PETA rant, this is a CHEAP rant. One uses “plates” when one cannot use whole pelts to be assembled by master furriers. Plates are like a hunk of fabric to smack a pattern onto, cut away and sew up on any old machine. Like spam or headcheese, these furs were just conglomerations of scraps, and they looked like it; spam patties parading as Filet Mignon. “Road kill… from the ditch to the b…..” well you catch my drift.

The few variations on the classic Smoking saved the show, as did some interesting boots and bags, the only things showing any real value to my eye. The provocation that the clothes and petulant expressions of the girls created was still little more than an annoyance. Juxtaposed against a collection like Valentino's full of ideas, modernity, luxury and desirability, Saint Laurent had no such effect. Pierre Berge must be suffering in silence or we’d be hearing his rant by now.

In contrast, at the end of the Valentino show, Mr. Garavani and his partner Giancarlo Giametti are seen embracing the pair who are now at the helm of the house. Tears shared between the 4 of them and cheers from the audience were a stark contrast to the Saint Laurent proceedings whose front row was crammed with rockers passing around and guzzling magnums of champagne. But that’s the difference a ditch can make.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Louis Vuitton Fall2014: Nichola's Ghessing Game

Considering Nicholas Ghesquiere's (pronunciation : Knee-ko-lah  Guess-ski-yair. Now you try it.) astounding coronation 12 years ago when he took up the scepter and Orb as Directoire Creatif of Balenciaga, (pronunciation: bah-Lawn-see-Ya-ga), (for fun let's try another. Lanvin is really Lawn-van...the last N is semi-silent) Fun, non?

When he took the wheel his first collections were homages to the master with faithful adaptations of original styles from the archives. They were a bit arch without the fluidity, loft and movement of the originals, in large part due to a possible lack of understanding of how fabrics must be left to lead, not forced to comply. Still, they were interesting in their newness to many eyes uninformed and unexposed to the originals. I'm sure Hubert de Givenchy (pronunciation: you-Bare De Zhee-von-Shee) twisted on his Louis Quinze  (Loo-ee  Cans) settee reading about or watching the proceedings.

Still the ever elusive DNA of the house was respected; the "codes"adhered to and all was well in the jungle. Then the inspirations of the Directoire bubbled to the surface setting off a DNA storm. One such burst of creativity was the appropriation of Koos van den Akker's collage vest that appeared on the runway much to the chagrin of those who knew who and what that was, creating a frisson of questions and doubts. For the following 12 years the house and its codes teetered off into space like a scene from "Gravity". Some people are just happier in space.

The clothes became harder and more self-conscious by the season. New"man-made" high tech fabrics appeared and all the talk became about the march towards modernity with Nicholas leading the charge, metal yardstick in hand and hordes of lemmings in his wake. Editors from here, there and wherever. Only one successful IT bag came from his tenure and a few truckloads of clothes that were increasingly more difficult to wear or grasp though liberally copied by many in the marketplace. Fashion at Balenciaga became a thing so precious, its siren song so high pitched that only dogs could hear it. Then the party stopped. Finis! (pronunciation: Fee-knee)

Fast forward to Marc Jacobs's exit from Louis Vuitton and enter Nicholas to the relief of all the major fashion mags, assorted hangers-on and every Intern (definition: Slave. Granted, minus whip marks and shackles. At least not obvious ones.) worth his weight in Starbucks coffee filled trays. Word next to the 3-D printer is that he's the Messiah.

The anthem that opens the show was so ironic. "Copy Cat", a cheeky drone of a tune frighteningly apt:

"OOO Copy Cat...You're my puppet...sit on my lap as I work, Baby Girl... I'm such a fan of this dress, I bought it 5 years ago" and on and on." That summed up much of what marched through a labyrinth of a place; stuff from 5 years ago."

The clothes were almost all an homage to Nicholas's glory days at Chez B. Hard, stiff leather a-line skirts zippered down the front, a billion of them cut the same with an added pocket, a printed fabric instead of leather at times plus or minus a single bold pocket. Lots of turtleneck sweaters and sweater vests tucked in, a white one with a wide lace band crossing the sleeves and body, the same shoe over and over paired with quilted little bags or rectangular metal mini-cases.

The coats and jackets in leather, bonded leather, patch worked leather, leather with the look of signature Courrege, especially a zippered knee-length black crocodile coat, slick and tough looked really right. Baby doll empire cut dresses appeared along with some regrettable softer ones that looked like he hadn't a clue what they should say or do. Booties with criss-cross straps and thorn heels (Roger Vivier-isms by way of Walter Steiger-isms)  completed the look. Leather and cloth high-waisted trousers looked sexy with their stiff zippered polo sweaters including a smart tan top were wrapped and tucked in. They were hot looks, like a taste of something great but then the waiter takes away the dish you've only just begun to savor.

The problem for me was that it wasn't a new message but the same one just moved  down the street from one house to the next. He plans to create a "total look" for LV as though one doesn't already exist. Marc Jacobs did a fine job of it, especially in the last 3 or 4 years. It wasn't broken, but now its showing signs of fractures. There were only 50 looks but it felt like hundreds with an audience of thousands looking kinda bored. But, hey, its the second coming so maybe I'm just blinded by so much divine light. You decide.

*images courtesy   *Video courtesy Fatalefashion   *Layout courtesy of Garnet

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Vogue Magazine: The Final Frontier

 Dear Peeps,
Commanderette Anna Wintour and her crew of stalwart, stoic and steadfast recruits are not as dim as they sometimes appear. Where I've questioned her heavy-handed games of teacher's pet and her flip side as Miss Hannigan to an orphanage filled with the privileged, her latest move to offer up Kim and Kanye as poster children with the intent of a mass adoption is pure bizness brilliance. I shuddered passing the newsstand seeing the innocence in Kim's hooded eyes and Kanye's studied "baby daddy" pout. It was the dress that caught my eye. Following those "couture" folds up, up, up til my eyes landed on their faces, I was almost seduced to pick it up and thumb through. But above those mugs was writ large: VOGUE. Vogue? The Kimye Westdashians on the cover of Vogue? It must be a joke parody cover like MAD magazine used to publish...? well, um, no. It's real. I'm all for the zeitgeist but not when it is more the "Paranormal Activity" sort.

Lots of folks have been confused by this. I was until it finally clicked that Ms. Wintour is not so much the arbiter of taste as she is a balls to the wall bizness lady. Sell magazines? That's one thing she can see how to do through those sunglasses that increasingly remind me of the ones you can buy at 4 in the a.m. on an infomercial for Snow Birds nesting in Boca. You know the ones I mean... They look great at the early bird special at Olive Garden and perfect on the mini-golf course. So it looks like this issue will be a blockbuster. Perhaps with a slightly different demographic but money will change hands. Anna's explanation for her choice was straight out of the Cloud (gaseous and foul smelling):

Anna says,“There’s barely a strand of the modern media that the Kardashian Wests haven’t been able to master, and for good reason: Kanye is an amazing performer and cultural provocateur, while Kim, through her strength of character, has created a place for herself in the glare of the world’s spotlight, and it takes real guts to do that.”

So, there it is. The Oracle has spoken. If strength of character, making a place for ones self in the world's spotlight and guts is what it takes to be a super star, I probably would also have let some cretin make a porn video of me taking it up the chutney shoot with a look of wonder, satisfaction and surprise.... Just sayin'....

xo, Fluff

pics courtesy of P Hilton blog (couldn't resist)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fashion: Don't try this at home....

I've been thinking a lot about this business and how it affects people. Especially, how a life in fashion is not for the faint of heart. It starts in a magazine or on a wretched reality show; The Face, Project No-way, All on the Line, and ad nauseum... The creative aspect is the most exciting part though many will argue it is the financial rewards are what its all about. Still others will rarely admit that it's the notoriety, attention, fawning press and glamor that is the biggest draw of all. The last is probably what draws the most moths to the blow torch. So what happens when you identify yourself with something that is fickle and fleeting? What happens if the warm glow of the spotlight shifts its focus to someone standing to your left, right or right smack in front of you? What happens if you just don't have the money to continue in a meaningful way? If you're somewhat secure and able to realize that a career can continue to grow and satisfaction can be found through the act of faith and sheer nerve, well, then you keep on doing the work. Or you choose to do something else.

I am uniquely qualified to weigh in on this topic. I had it all, defined myself and my self worth by the business I owned and never thought my life would be any different. Just up, up and up. I loved the press, the pictures of gowns from the red carpet, the profiles in newspapers and magazines, the stores and clients who celebrated my work (that meant me, right?) and that feeling that I was a player, even if a minor one compared to the whales. A Guppy with chops.
The smart showroom/workrooms, the beautiful horse, time divided between NYC, E Hampton and West Palm Beach (Wellington), a wonderful mate who loves me and helped me make it, respect from my peers and a feeling that I belonged to this very rare and exclusive club...It was exclusive then. And then the boom was lowered.

I had to make the toughest decision of all: Let It Go, or lose everything: sanity, security, and most of all my perspective. Depression and anxiety were just the ice cubes floating in the sea next to the iceberg of total defeat, shame and despair bobbing just beneath the surface.

Once the decision was made, it took about 2 years to make it, I was like an empty shell. It felt as though I no longer had any identity other than has-been, peon, loser. I had dark thoughts I admit, but they were thankfully shapeless and nameless. Running away and holding up in E Hampton was my solution. Though the New York Times sent me on my way with something much greater than a gold watch giving me the chance for a future, it still felt like death, my own.

Looking at the things written about L'Wren Scott brought it all back to me. That feeling of the walls closing in, the humiliation and shame I couldn't rationalize away and just feeling adrift and insignificant. I would never pretend to know what was in her heart or head. I do know that when one feels that all is lost it matters little what you "have", who you're with or what friends and loved ones think. But if in some way what I was plagued by when I stared at the precipice was even more acute for her, it's a very tragic loss... for her and for the others.

We often live and die by our own invention. If anything can be learned from this it's that one needs to use ones imagination to design a new possibility for ones self, the same as we start from scratch to create a new collection. Fashion is not for the faint of heart.

Exodus: The winter of our discontent.

Cathy Horyn

Has anyone besides me, Catherine, Jolain and others noticed that before the credits rolled the theater emptied? Where did everyone go? That goes for all of NYFW.....

Ok, so I did see a few shows, CH and RR along with a few others (Bibhu Mohapatra, Duckie Brown and some others not worth mentioning). They were each moving in their own ways. Ralph Rucci, of course, was the most moving, but in a static, frozen in time way. Carolina Herrera had some great moments that were so chic, so interesting, starting with an exaggerated Fez on the heads of many of the girls parading in DELUXE daytime clothes. Great fur treatments on cashmere coats, a turtleneck cashmere sweater that all but made the notion of a coat redundant. Day in the world of CH is more compelling than evening where the hand can become a tiny bit ham-fisted. Still it is the pervasive feel of chic, even modern at times, propriety that persuasively makes the argument for luxury. Ms Herrera is a classy Lady and her team led by Herve Pierre and crew are clearly a joyful gang with none of the angst that has riddled so much of the industry. Maybe that's because Mrs. H has nothing to prove. When you have IT why bother? It's a European sensibility that many of us inhabiting the New World are still centuries away from embodying.
Eric Wilson

The Ralph Rucci collection, due its own individual analysis, is interesting in a similar way with the exception that most every exit was its own show, its own statement on the nature of modernity in a time of social decay. I say static in that his themes were further developed, refined and distilled making the message, the sheer beauty and brilliance of idea/execution that much more obvious to see. The show staged in his own studio, a space that defies description other than to say it is part laboratory, part gallery and part heaven, was much more intimate than the tents so the clothes passed so close to you it was possible to see the texture of the fabrics, hear the rustle of fabrics and the sound of crystals and beads whispering to one another. It left me not so much stunned as satisfied.

Suzy Menkes
The strangest part of all was the absence of critical eyes. Ms. Horyn was not in attendance having left the Times only a week before to be with her partner, only for him to pass away within the following week. Her exit was the end of an era, or the end of an error, depending on how one chooses to look at it; glass half empty or glass bone dry. Though the uproar over her departure was such that some lamented that hers was the last voice of intelligent, objective discourse/criticism. Others mourned that fashion criticism is now the domain of ignorant uninformed bloggers. There may be some truth in that...

Watching Suzy Menkes shuffle in, then reading her reviews that parroted the hackneyed Horyn-isms (cutting on the "round" and "couture shapes", tropes, the notion of, etc.) and happy talk was distressing but not unexpected. Eric Wilson moved on to greener pastures too. I miss him. Eric's is an intelligent voice that is surprisingly objective. Rarely did he print a review that was oblique and freighted with meaning that couldn't be deciphered. I never had to read him twice... I even miss Cathy. She at least supplied the catnip for me and others to rake our claws over. I also feel for her Greek chorus weighing in on her blog with comments so dense in language and meaning that only she could "get at" what they attempted to "get at". I call them the Horyns of Babylon. Mrs. Menkes I understand is/has jumped ship to join Conde Nast so that completes the circle. The vacuum that's left is as disturbing as the legion of uninspired "designers" tossing looks down the runway like a pot of uncooked spaghetti at the wall; nothing much sticks just a mess on the floor to step in like the lazy entitled zombies in Brooklyn Heights whom no longer feel responsible for picking up after their mutts.

Europe, Paris in particular, is another story altogether. A story with a beginning, middle and end.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Golden Globes and Oscar: Red Carpet is a River of Blood

The Globes actually took me by surprise last week. All of my energy was directed to the National Figure Skating Championships and who would get named to the US team. The more time passes the farther away from the fray I've drifted. I remember the days when the award season was all that any self respecting designer thought about. This year's Globes limped along like last year and the year before with a red carpet that resembled a river of blood quite literally before air time when some water sprinklers got too hot next to artificial lights spewing filthy dirty water onto the carpet. The maintenance crews jumped to it mopping and drying it as best they could before the first regrettable train dragging gowns appeared. Tuning in for the pre-show fashion parade was not on my list but Anton suggested I might want to see first hand and not hear about it the next day. To give you an idea of the degree of my enthusiasm, I would rather have packed the car, gotten out of E Hampton and onto a Long Island Expressway traffic jam than listen to the inane people they've dragged the river to stand and ask the stars who/what they're wearing and little or nothing about why they were there.

I was neither surprised or disappointed watching the stars herded to the waiting mikes like animals going through a station by station check-in with an eventual neutering at the end (Fashion Police). It was a grim march that seemed completely lacking in excitement, surprise, wonderment or humor. A horror show in broad daylight without so much as a drop of elegance. From the moment I saw Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine", I knew the award for best actress was Cate Blanchett's to lose and ditto for her appearance on the red carpet. No one has the ammo like she does with the exception of Charlize Theron.

Instead of drawing the whole spectacle out I thought I'd just say whom I thought looked best which includes everything: manners, grace, attitude, carriage, dignity, mystique, elegance, humility and humanity. That's a lot to cull from just a woman in a dress but hey, that's my criteria... Cate didn't disappoint. Not only was her Armani Prive couture dress beautiful and appropriate, it was unlike any of the other dresses there. Light, dignified and provocative in the same breath and fit like a second skin. If you noticed whenever the camera rested on her seated at her table she was a vision of self possession and an object of real beauty. Her static quality was like a still figure in a charging mass. But when she collected her Best Actress award she was as alive, unexpectedly candid and excited as a kid at Christmas. It was impressive. It was a classy moment.

Not so much the rest of the proceedings. The party line for the evening for the press and fashion hounds was that this year's key word was Haute Couture. The press starting with (maybe) the NY Times stated that any actress worth her weight in star power was ONLY being given couture to wear and they along with their savvy, brilliant stylists were"working" directly with the best fashion houses to make that couture gown uniquely and only one-of-a-kind-ish-ly JUST for that star. Sounds like a big deal only that's been going on for years. Sorry nothing new in that story except that it was the "official" story of the season. Still there were so many actresses that looked ok at best and awful in the cold light of a late Hollywood afternoon.

I loved the "homages" that kept me and  I'm sure many of you guessing. The first red flag were the pictures in the Times of Tom Ford's designs for Gwynneth Paltrow (white cape over white column) and Julianne Moore ( black and white gown in geometric wedges of contrasting color). One of the first dresses I saw was the red off the shoulder strapless gown with attached cape on the actress starring in "12 Years a Slave". It seemed so obviously Ford's design, but why when it was so identifiable with Gwynneth last year at the Oscar's. Even though it was more dramatic in red and strapless on this actress, it seemed lazy. Then the same thing happened moments later when another forgettable actress gallumphed up to the commentator in a halter that had almost the same lines as Julianne's Ford minus the sleeves. The halter was in fact Ford's, not a wise move. But the red was Ralph Lauren. Not such a wise move to copy so carelessly on a telecast that the world watches. So much for haute couture. for this league it should be termed " Ote Koo-chur".

Dresses fit the stars like skin for the most part. The lengths and trains were awkward and their ability to walk was seriously hampered. Lena Dunham of "Girls" fame should give Zac Posen a rest. He may be her friend and past classmate at Saint Anne's in Brooklyn Heights, but friends don't make friends look like shit on a global telecast. Just saying. And as far as the Haute Couture issue goes, 99% of the clothes worn can be seen in the collections of all of the designers from Spring14, Resort 14 or the couture fall 13 collections. So much for one-of-a-kind-ish-ness.