Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In and Out list


Peter Som .......Peter Som
Burbury briefs for men....... continued coverage of Bill Blass
Sordid Lives on Logo..... Housewives of Manhattan
WII sports:tennis clubs
Acura MDX fully loaded..... any Bentley
Emmy Lou Harris..... Rihanna
honesty ......tented weddings
brown diamonds..... yellow diamonds
humility .....praising bad behavior
gift giving ,even to ones self........ wedding registry
romance...... dating services.
giving up your seat on the train...... upturned collars
Herbie Hancock .......Tory Burch
great sex...... no sex or bad sex
cotton dresses ....... fake Pucci dresses
saying thank you ...... saying thank you without sincerity
writing a letter..... emailing
being who you are...... posing
happy....... bitching
listening....... hearing
style....... fashion
dressage horses........ polo ponies
kissing....... just thinking about it
orchids....... flower arrangements
anywhere........ South Hampton/Palm Beach
bodies with hair........ bodies without hair
Roger Vivier....... Christian Laboutin
Hermes....... All the rest
cash .......checks/credit cards
Phoenix cats ......dogs ,pedigreed or not
telling your truth........saying what others want to hear
J.Press........Thom Browne /Brooks Brothers

getting the joke....... not getting it

Monday, July 28, 2008

out is the new in.

I stand corrected. Maybe Peter Soms demise at Blass was greatly exaggerated. It seems he's renegotiating his contract and trying to get NexCen to pay up or shut up. Seems like he has some posse with him who haven't collected any checks from the boss man in some time. So he's fighting for their rights , in a fashion ,as well as his own. I guess the powers that be are tight wads who just don't feel that contracts are made to be honored. That makes them thoroughly modern. Why buy the lamb chop when you can slaughter it for free?

Well, I for one am finding this tail of woe less than scintillating. It reeks of pretentiousness, posturing and poor judgement ,not to mention poor taste. Neither side is worth backing. Both are without any real merit and therefore MOOT.

A tempest in a tote bag. Another lost weekend. Time for a Reality check. I see dead people.....

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ins and Outs of Fashion.....A Primer.

Peter Som is OUT.

I don't mean in the "I'm gay" sense of Out. I mean OUT as creative Director of Bill Blass Couture. Another mirror broken in what was once a beautiful house. It is a Primer on the vagaries of the now treacherous title of "Creative Director" .

First of all, one must be cautious of the musical chair effect: also known as the high speed ,out of control, merry go round effect. But in this case the one I like to call the Pump and Dump effect. Pump the designer with press and hope it validates a struggling house, buys it editorial coverage and perhaps even a little play at retail. If that tactic doesn't quite produce the desired return on your investment then Dump the designer. In this case unload the house to any bidder to pay off the banks for other businesses value more.When a design house goes through four designers in about five years plus, one has to wonder if all is well in the back office. Are the principals of the company clear or present? Do they have any idea of what they want to achieve? Do they know anything about the candidates for this most important hire?

Can they look past the press and suggestions from the press as to who has the ability to do the job? Can they add one plus one and come up with 2, or a number less than that? Let's just assume the answer in most cases is NO.

Peter Som is not to blame. He like the others: Steven Slowick, Lars Nillson and Michael Vollbract, as well as the various members of the design room support staff were collectively not the best choices for the Directorship of the house. All are talented in their own ways , just not suitable for that particular position. Bill left some mighty big John Lobb's to fill .It takes a sensibility, a uniquely American couture approach to start where he left off and go forward. It's not about press covered candidates , necessarily, but a designer with an aesthetic that is in sync with the spirit of Mr. Blass' take on design, the client who is the backbone of the business and the new audience to come.

It's not about talking your way in. The work, one's body of work to that point and perhaps a sample collection or plan of what one sees for the direction and growth of the house are what should be studied and given serious thought and dissection. Too many I fear have danced and chattered their way into the job. One can't help but wonder the effect of recommendations from the Power Press.which is the same as an arm twist parading as a caress. If the owners hire a Darling then the press will follow and editorialize the collection. But if not, then god help the owners. What I'm getting at is the fear of not hiring a press darling blinds the eyes of what is best for the future of the design house. What is best for business. NOT what is the best choice to please the press.

Too many will jump to the conclusion that the Doctor is the only answer. That would be Dr. Tom Ford. I suggest Alternative Medicine. Either a designer with the right genes or forsake the collection and just focus on licenses. Just know that historically if one is hired to take the helm, one can only realistically expect to hold on for 1-2 years. Your most important priority is an iron clad contract that offers a respectable compensation and a very golden parachute. Not gold colored or gold plated....a golden parachute you can bite and taste it's authenticity. That is unfortunately what you can be most sure of, unless things change immediately, is that the revolving door effect will continue . Sucking one in and blowing one out.

A sad commentary on the industry . But this is where we are now. One can always hope things are going to change. Good design will be valued and ersatz styling will show itself for what it is.

The owners of Bill Blass might consider doing their homework instead of running outside to play marbles in the backyard.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Brideshead Reconstituted and Revisited....

My review of this film has caused me to question my opinion of it. I read the Times review and was surprised to hear that it was much truer to Waugh's story than the romantic 12 part series many of us watched in 1981. Considering the story was written in 1945 and homosexual themes in novels were very taboo and usually veiled in innuendo, the love story between Sebastian and Charles was more an intro to the affair Charles would have with Sebastian's sister Julia. That means what we all saw and loved was a story that would have distressed Waugh. What is now the film was approved by the Waugh estate.
I don't know about you, but I have to say that poetic license was probably still preferable to the actual novel. I stand by my words in all other areas. It does look very much like a NO budget film. Chatsworth House is still beautiful, but is stripped of all decoration and beauty. Nice Nanny's room, cramped chapel and lovely fountain. The costumes are sad and the acting is tepid.
I received a comment from someone asking why bother to see the film considering what I said , so I felt compelled to address my review with a correction. The last thing I would want is to unfairly criticize something due to misinformation. You might like it. I didn't read the novel and will, now. Like Atonement, which I did read and loved, I couldn't enjoy the film, so the pendulum swings both ways.
The fact is that sometimes memory and its inventive quality is better than the truth. Fiction is preferable to fact more than we care to admit. I don't want to spoil the fun for others, I just called it as I saw it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brideshead Reconstituted

Last night I saw a screening of the remake ,big screen version of Brideshead Revisited. The breathtaking panorama of the grounds , the water fountain in front of one of the most heart brakingly beautiful homes (same as the original) was so exquisite I audibly gasped. The setting was so lovely my eyes started to tear. No exaggeration..... but from there , like the 3 miles long rolling drive leading to it's courtyard, the film tumbled inexorably down hill.
You would think that no farthing would be spared to breathe life into this film. Those of us who caught it the first time around were glued to every word, every gesture that was played with such extraordinary grace . The world fell in love with Jeremy Irons and the rest of the Marchmain family. Unfortunately the only person with real gravitas was Emma Thompson , the Lady of the manor. She was drawn as an over zealous catholic, fundamentalist Medea. I don't even remember the rest of the cast or the original story. All was altered ,sheared and redrawn. Waugh would have been so horrified by the hack job of his story.
Well, in this case too many tuppence were spared in this low budget pot boiler. I figured that at worst it would be a fabulous costume drama with tons of beautiful clothes and jewels , even art and objet. Instead the house was empty, we saw perhaps 3 out of 100 rooms with little or no decoration. One had the feeling, the director snuck the production in through the cellar door, shot it as fast as possible and hoped a pursed lip or a chaste kiss between Sebastian and Charles would carry us through. It didn't work for me. The clothes didn't even approach the couture of that period . Some costumes were actually hideous and the visuals left way too much to the imagination. The focus of the plot switched to Charles' romance with Sebastian's sister, Julia, poor Sebastian was shuttled off stage left and I was stuck waiting for the credits to roll.
This one is perhaps worth renting but by no means a MUST SEE.
It was more Brideshead Reconstituted than anything else.

Halston: A cautionary tale.

Here we go again. Harvey Weinstein,Halston and his brilliant hacks have run down yet another designer,Marco Zanini. It's very sad that even someone from hollywood would commit the same heinous crime as all the other BIG BOYS here on seventh do when trying to give CPR to a dead or dying design house. They apply the defibrillator ,use a fraction of juice to do the job, they always keep an eagle eye on bottom line, they then forget to tell everyone to stand back and press the ZAP button. Everyone around gets burned .The design house trembles as though it's alive for a season or two then FLATLINES in the eyes of the owners. Instead of upping the voltage and keeping the life support going they FIRE the DESIGNER.
I really thought Harvey was more humane, a player with a fresh take on creative ventures and would stand by his choice of Zanini and say to hell with others' expectations.
A company with a hiatus like Halston has had needs time to crawl...stand...walk , then run. This whole process takes a few minutes not 2 nano seconds. Why doesn't anyone understand this? America and NYC in particular have become a graveyard for business, anything remotely connected to finance and it's poisoning the Arts and related businesses; FASHION being one of them.
Europe has managed to figure it out for the most part ,but these american design houses have the new MIDAS touch: whatever these guys touch turns to TRASH. If it was still breathing and had any lustre , and Halston still had it after so many debacles, they have done a very good job , by their actions to kill it. I'm not surprised at all but I am appalled that they would fire Zanini the moment his upcoming Spring2009 collection is complete and not yet on the runway.
It smacks of Ferre and Lars Nillson, the difference being Lars had 2 or 3 dresses ready when the curtain was to go up and was let go.
So that's the way it is now, easy come easy go . Faith, Patience,and a Conscience are so last year.
One and a half collections are the new career legacy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Haute Couture....Real vs. Memorex

The recent collections brought about a number of curious reactions and responses from the fashion press and some everyday Janes/Joes that have stuck like a hairball in my throat. As you can imagine by looking at me, looking VERY closely, that ball of hair is clearly in my imagination. Well, the OTT aspect of this season and several reactions to it are equally OTT and a case of imaginations run wild....Wishful thinking in some cases.
The season was full of very provocative and beautiful clothes. Statements were made and gauntlets were tossed down, but many things were also filled with helium. They floated up a few feet and imploded or if you breathed in their heady scent, your brain and voice started to squeak.
Though Chanel appears season after season the collection to watch, to consider a barometer of sorts, I didn't really see the brilliance or direction it often suggests. That's fine. You can't expect Mr. Lagerfeld to be prophetic every time he shows his couture collection. There were magical pieces throughout, but the overriding theme of organ pipes was somehow overbearing and awkward in its suggestion. The day suits with heavy pleating may work to a degree on the models but will likely not be as effective on his clients. They create a bulk that ultimately is less than flattering . The theme carried through the whole collection into evening and still created a discordant heaviness....too much pedal and not enough pianissimo. Still there was music and the lilt of a haunting melody woven in and out. I'm always moved by his mastery, his fertile imagination and the absolute mastery of technique. In that sense, it didn't disappoint.

Valentino was initially for me not such a compelling collection, though it struck a chord in many ways that the first RTW collection by Ms. Facchinetti didn't. There was a flatness to the rtw which was very different from this couture collection. I was intrigued by the elliptical shapes in dresses and skirts. This is a shape rarely successful beyond a sketch. Though there was an absolute beauty to the execution of the pale chiffon cocktail, ,it still appeared to be an unreal , or exaggerated look that will be more archival in it's importance than actually wearable. The couture is in it's very essence is a laboratory to alchemist's attempts at mixing elements to create precious gold. Though I gave her short shrift initially in my first look, I must say that the collection as a whole had many very beautiful elements. There was a risk to it that was fantastic with the shadow of the master looming in every corner. She followed her heart and created a romantic and modern poetry that told a new story. I am curious and excited to see what will come next. She has exquisite taste, and sense of balance and rigor in her approach that could greatly improve on the RTW. I'm watching her like the cat that I am. Valentino's clients would be wise to support and wear these new designs. The story continues ...this is not Remembrance of things Past. It is a palpable and present future we are witnessing.

Dior was a bit of a cacophony of harmonies. Like Mozart was told after debuting a new opera by his Royal patron a while back, " It's lovely, but I think there are too many notes". The collection was FILLED with fantastic passages but there were too many variations on a theme that has been seen and heard from his repertoire. A master and creative genius, yes, but it came off as a bit of a repeated melody. Bombastic and powerful in it's presentation, but ultimately like a film that one forgets after the credits have run. I will always listen to his music, it is sublime and haunting, but some collections are more original than others. Perhaps some editing would have strengthened it...more strings and fewer brass .

Givenchy left me cold....even with the sweaters and leather jackets and inclement weather wear. It didn't look or feel like Haute Couture. I can only imagine the disheartened Premieres and the ateliers that were ignored and left with little or no chance to show their masterful technique.

Most importantly is that the couture is alive, it continues to inspire and will always be the most intriguing music to our senses. Long may it live.