Saturday, September 27, 2008

Viva D'Arte, Viva D'Amore, Viva Bottega!

If you read my last posting, you all know that sadly I missed La Moda Fantasica front row and fabulous in that charmed little hamlet that is known by us all as MILAN ( pronounced the same as ANN). So I had to rely on pics and bits from other hacks who did make the Voyage a Moda.

From what I've seen in press and on the internet, I must say that Bottega Veneta is really this cat's MEOW. What an absolutely artful, wearable, collectible, edible, must- haveable collection to hit all the jaded eyes that stare off into space, or at cameras or each other in a good long in , since last season. Thomas Maier is a very gifted and measured designer. As a somewhat typical Teuton, with a practical, no nonsense German work ethic is so grounded in the here and now. That elusive concept of 'be here now 'is his mantra. What is so puzzling about that in a fashion designer is that so few are ever anywhere yesterday,today or tomorrow. One is supposed to be a seer into the next season and conjure the mood that will coincide, but he is solidly in the present. His idea of present is paradoxically the future and past.

His collection was a series of beautiful leather dresses, separates, day and evening pieces in humbling fabrics that evoked antiquity and plain practicality. Nothing felt like a specific season or time of day. I've said before, looking at his menswear and women's collections the last few seasons, including accessories and shoes, that there isn't anything I wouldn't want or wear or treasure.
This collection delivers the same message in a dream like way. You feel as though you're dreaming, but are wide awake, only it's just too good to be real so you figure it must be one of those really great dreams. Well snap out of it . You're wide awake and it's very real. Days that we live in at the present are dark and darkening. Maier proposes a fashion that acknowledges that fact. Ostentation has no place. Excessive detail and extraneous elements are superfluous. Yes, it's expensive especially with the euro kicking our collective behinds...but this is worth the investment, one piece at a time, one day,week or month at a time. You'll have these pieces for a lifetime. They will amortize themselves over the years to come and you'll never feel so right, so cool and so confident.

Thomas Maier is a designer for these times. A responsible, creative force who honestly speaks to us and for us through clothing. That is something I rarely
see coming from most design houses,high,middle or
low end. If the clothes have a reason to be, the reason is
to function,enliven,enhance and inspire. Not just the audience but most importantly the wearer.

I kinda liked this one. I liked it alot.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Procrastinations's Pay-offs.....

Wasting time doesn't pay. In fact, it can cost you dearly.One must be organized in life, it's not only a good idea, it's imperative. Organization is what keeps us all alive, self sustaining, happy and in step with our interior worlds and the greater outside. That said, I screwed up big time last week. This should only happen to a fool, so use my example as one NOT to follow.

I have a few well placed friends left who invited me to come to Europe and take in the shows in Paris and Milan. There were some great parties and dinners tossed into the mix to keep one interested . Anyone knows that after 5 or 50 shows one gets a bit restless. A great party with some frighteningly jaded fashion junkies might add a spark . God knows a steady diet of models, music and Mode can create something akin to Post Show Traumatic Syndrome. I was looking forward to catching up with Andre Leon Talley, and my buddies who pack the front row. When we rub up against each other in Paris, London or Milan, there is a frisson that sends chills of fabulosity shooting through your very being. Not like here in NYC, where after so much as an air kiss you have the uncontrollable desire to take a bath. I was ready for some love, to feel not just a part the the action, but to be the action, if you know what I mean.

With this romp in mind nothing sartorial was spared. New undies, some socks and even a new shirt I could wear 10 different ways. Jeans with a crease just for that RetroDork look. I splurged on a Goyard bag from the nicest salesman.I thought it strange he was outside selling them, but it was such a glorious autumn day so I didn't question it. That bag would carry all the goodies that so many shows would have waiting just for me! One always needs to make a statement in these heady situations, so a light bulb went off in my head . I became possessed with a clever way to capture my favorite looks on the runway as well as to shoot snaps of all my friends revelling in the mayhem of Le Mode. So I bought about 20 disposable cameras...BRILLIANT,right? You don't have to tell me, I KNOW brilliance. I live, eat, drink and choke on it. Needless to say, I had it goin' on ,and was RET TO GO!!!!! Can I have an AMEN???? Damn straight.

Packing was a breeze. Everything fit into my IKEA baggage checking for me. When that big bird touched down this one was going to be off at a full gallop. Andre told me he was absolutely living in a sweat suit and CROCS, so I figured comfort was the name of the game. Filene's Basement had some slightly discolored velour track suits and Payless had to die for multi-multi colored high tops that were just irresistible. Bought'em. I scored a clear plastic Cartier-ish tank watch and grabbed it too. Important watches are just so IMPORTANT. Time is a cruel mistress when travelling on the autobahn of fashion week on the continent. No way was I going to be one minute late for any and all excitement. Madness is the order of the day and night and this one is MAD a fashionable way. All was ready, I even dropped by the Port of Authority to purchase my bus ticket which would ferry me right to the airport the following day.
Honestly, I have never been so prepared, so on point, so styled and smokin' as I was that day.
All that was left was to get a good nights sleep and get my hairless little tush to Newark.

Fast forward to 3 oclock the day of departure. Time to go. Last minute check on all necessities:
money (65.00 seemed more than enough) with the euro so low a buck was the definition of loaded,right? Slippers for the ride over and back, a pashmina-ish wrap to cozy up with and eye mask to help me sleep. My fleece lined Members Only jacket in LOOK AT ME yellow would work in any weather and some shades. One must never be caught without sunglasses. Even if you're wearing them in the pitch black night and step in front of an oncoming 18 wheeler, you'll at least go down in style. Isn't that what we live and die for? The last little thing on my check list was my passport in it's bright Hermes-ish orange leatherette case.

I get to the airport with my handy Ikea blue bag and cut in line for security. When one is headed to the Collections on the continent,one doesn't stand in line.One goes to the head of the line. In my outfit and my 'go to hell' attitude it was easy. The seas just parted. This lovely woman of foreign extraction asked for my boarding pass and passport. One doesn't look at these functionaries , one looks over them and focuses on the bar that can be seen in the near distance.
She took a long time to read the information in her hand which only annoyed me no end. Why do these people work in jobs where they need to but can't read english? Next thing I knew she said in broken english "Step out of line mister. Passport expired". I snapped my head back and down and said"WHAT?". She replied" You hear me mister, passport expire, no trip".

I could have sworn I heard her giggle. The people in line, the ones I cut in front of ,were laughing LOUDLY. Seems the story got around like a bad disease. I have forgotten the point of this heart breaking experience...... oh, procrastinations' payback. If only I'd renewed that damn passport when it was time (5 years prior) I would have been having the time of my life. But I didn't and I'm not. That $65.00 got me as far as the Manhattan bridge leaving me to walk the last hour home. You may wonder why I didn't just get back on the bus. Fabulosity doesn't exit an airport by bus. Only a cab will do, even if you don't have the money. Appearances are everything, I thought. They're not.

Pride broke the bank and procrastination made me mad,and not in a fashionable way.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I'm a back slider. It's one of many of my faults, but it's near the top of my list. I keep meaning to finish my personal reviews of the New York Spring collections, but I'm so glad it's over ,I can't seem to finish the task.

I have some things to say about Ralph Lauren, mainly that it's a venerable, old, all American house that makes great clothes; perfectly. Beyond that there is never anything about it that is earth shattering. It's nice. That says a lot, when you consider that NICE is in very short supply.

Also Donna did a beautiful collection: very draped and organic. The clothes done in unreal neutral colors, looked like they were conceived in nature.Donna does it best. Truly beautiful.
Cool. Very Zen-ish. Makes one want to buy it up and head to the nearest Ashram. The Right one, of course.

I was thinking of Zac Posen and then stopped thinking about him. I was also wondering about the absence of Kimora's Baby Phat, only to stop wondering, feeling a certain degree of "who gives a ...."?

Didn't weigh in on Marc either. Why , when everyone thinks he's the second coming? I just think he's looking more like Galliano in his person and the clothes are just a stew. His interview after the show was delivered in a very distracted and careless tone. Is that battle fatigue? Or is it the new sober? That goes for Marc by Marc.

Miguel Adrover .That's probably 2 words too many.

What's with all the JUMPSUITS?How is it I didn't see that coming? Were my ears being irrigated when that news flash hit the airwaves, the street, the press, the Zeitgeist monitor?

Who knew? Who cares?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

To Have and to HAVE Not....Spring 09

Every season has an unfortunate cluster of misled, misguided and mistaken characters parading as designers. Let's call them the Have Nots. Actually, they are some of the most amusing ones to witness. You actually get to watch a car wreck where no one really gets hurt, they just walk away stunned and stupefied.

One major HaveNot this season, a new entry would have to be Victoria Beckham, aka Pepper Spray or Pish Posh or something along those lines. This unfortunate creature got it into her pin head that she was, therefore she is...a DESIGNER. Someone should toss a bucket of cold water over her and pray that it brings her to her senses. I think a fire hose is more in order. I saw the stills taken in a very smart hotel suite on a singularly common looking model. Needless to say it didn't do much to help the "Collection" . Not that 12 pieces doesn't constitute a collection, but to use that term for those sad dresses is already giving her way more credit than they deserve.
It was a riff on a shred of an idea. Try as I might, I'm still not clear on what that idea was, except that everything was short in a very long way. The hems hit about 4 inches or so below the knee. A NEW LENGTH.but the dresses were all the same with very slight variation. Strapless or sleeveless. MATRONLY and decidedly un sexy. Not something she would wear with the exception of one black bustier she decided to wear at 10 a.m. to a show with J.Lo in tow. What is it these over exposed performers think that gives them the license to assume the mantle of CREATEUR? Their money? fame? doctored beauty? I think it's just plain greed. They figure that because they can buy all the fashion they want, then they can create it too. Even if it means knocking off,BADLY, the things they like best in their over stuffed closets. Let's hope she sticks to the photo op and leave the real design business to those who can.

Imitation of Life or Desecration of Christ, whatever, that hodgepodge of Salvation Army drek that Tara Subkoff pawned off on all the stores and press, AND THEY ACTUALLY BOUGHT IT, has thankfully been given a decent burial. Enough said. (No show/no Pic)

Let's not forget Halston , the 'exhumation of the archive' collection. It's easy to make pretty clothes when you dig up the original patterns and colors of a designer who passed on many many years ago. Go ahead, kill the messenger, Zannini, and resuscitate dead bodies and call it fresh. That is the closest thing to necrophilia I've seen in fashion since Halston tried to make a go of it with the previous 5 designers they blew through. I think I covered that corpse in cashmere!

It's tough to be choosy in this post because there are so many perps and so little space to give them all their due. I'll have to make the tough executive decision and go with one last one. That would have to be Scott Sternberg and his Boy by Band of Outsiders. That's a long name to remember but the clothes (left) themselves are very easy to forget. This is what I call a concept collection, or more precisely, a NO Concept collection.Most of the pieces are all very basic, tired even,and all with the look of having been store bought the night before the SHOOT. Price tags and labels were hopefully ripped out and the new label glue gunned on and then all presented on a REAL celebrity. The whole collection was shot on Kirsten Dunst, hence instant Fabulosity!!!! Home run! She's style challenged without her stylist and these clothes are an imitation of style so it all went together rather nicely. in HAVE.

So there it is, from my biased opinion. I don't like being played and these collections make fools of themselves and us for having to seriously consider them. So back to my book and let's hope what's left to chew on has a bit more flavor and texture.

Michael Kors Spring 09

I honestly think Michael Kors could be the greatest , most American sportswear designer of this time. He's like Ralph, only with more attitude,like pre Calvin, but with less self consciousness,like Tommy Hilfiger who only wishes he had a snow ball's chance in Hell to be of Michael's caliber. You could go so far as to say he is all of the young American sportswear designers from before and present , only with consummate taste and range. Range is a stretch, you say, when season after season his collections look and feel like extensions of the one before. This is precisely what makes them so prescient, so advanced. Michael has taken a thread from 20 some odd years ago, go through terrific ups, downs and outs, and has held light to that thread and it is as strong as steel today. He has developed a vocabulary that speaks to every woman , and some men. When the press said he is the heir to Bill Blass, that's totally without question. He could be the heir to many other collections as well. He just has a gift . Celine was a walk in the park for him, and no one has done it better, certainly not Phoebe Philo.

That said, what happened this season with his spring collection? specifically for women. I saw it, and sat stymied through the whole show waiting for it to start. What was even stranger was that the menswear was like what the women's wear normally is....exciting, cohesive, coherent, crazy, luxe and clever. I wanted every last piece of the men's collection. It was so perfect.
The women looked so unconnected in the overall design scheme. You have to look at last fall's collection with it's willy nilly mix of disparate pieces all working together like a glorious concerto. It was musical and harmonious and fabulous. This time there was a hum, just not a tune one could follow.

Granted there were some beautiful clean, simple drop dead columns in heavenly colors. Simplicity is his answer to every question. lots of graphic twists of multi colored stripes and over sized coordinating dots. All was in order, just collectively not memorable. Everyone has good and less good collections. He's human like the rest and it's not big deal. What made it so stark an impression was the fact that the men always act as foils to the women. This time they stole the show.

Personally, I think the Project Runway gig is screwing with his head. He's losing his sense of humor and grip on reality by staying in bed with the Cretins who people that show. His humor is gone, he's insulting, officious and crude. To tell another designer that his model looks as though she's pooping fabric, is really a signal that all is not right in his world. Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia , Tim Gunn and the rest of the LOSERS that RUN that regrettable show have started to infect him with their small minded, self aggrandizing bullshit... and I'm not including the hapless contestants. My suggestion is to get off that train wreck of an UN-reality show and just do what you do best. Give us a reason to shop, to look great, to Feel good about ourselves.

Don't crawl in the slime pond with those who have nothing left... or nothing better to do. Karma is a powerful thing.

More....More...More. God, there's still MORE. Spring09

It's an endless line up of shows that in many cases should never have seen the spotlights of the tents. Many of you out there and I include the press and editors of consequence, who feel these collections are news and important. here is hopefully a quick and painless review of what happened.

Zac Posen, (right) another young gun showman with surprising resources of imagination and money to back it up. the money being The Puffy formerly known as Diddy! Mommy Posen is one of the most shameless stage mothers one could be cursed with. Anyway, there were many looks in this collection that all were examples of technical fireworks, strange padding added to hips to exaggerate the shape a la Dior '54 ,. Still the draping on some of the silk jersey cocktail dresses and leopard printed chiffons were really eye catching. I just wish he would be quiet and just work. The star studded attitude and audience is a bit tired and so is his wonder boy persona. It's just a dress.....

Vera Wang (below) opened her closet and sent it down the runway again. This girl is a shopper and thinks nothing of knocking her favorite buys and putting them on the runway.There was a dress that was very beautiful, black silk razimir, borrowed from Francisco Costa, that was fresh and beautiful. But layers of organza tunic/t-shirt tops over leggings is just dull after the first 10 or 15 versions. With her Kohl's deal, the bridal empire,perfumes and of course her Sleepy's "Let's sleep with Vera" license, why bother with clothing that is obviously her ego run amok each season.

Proenza Schouler is just beyond me. No words come to mind to describe the collection, their popularity and power in the marketplace and press. The collection was not a collection. It was some overalls which will be the most expensive you'll ever buy, jumpsuits in lame and beading which only the most desperate will wear to get attention; remember bad attention is better than no attention and then dresses that said nothing. Money talks /Bullshit walks. In their case they are 2 major multi-taskers: they've managed to do both!

Marc Jacobs collections( both) are the most sought after tickets of the season. If a bomb went off in the Armory at those shows , we would have a truly free world, that is if you look at 7th ave. as the world...and so many of the acolytes of fashion do. But nothing catastrophic happened except hundreds of the same looks came down the runway in the most random mix of high/low luxe fabrics and crowned with Steven Jones hats. It looked like a replay of an Alvin Ailey production of Revelations, minus the intermission. When that riff was exhausted, out came an ode to YSL. Smokings, the Chinoise collection and a little of the Russian one too but with all the structure and stuffing removed. Those creations were so dramatic the first time because of the structure and technique that went into their creation. This time they looked purchased from a costume shop. There was one long draped orange gown that was worth all of the other stuff. He is becoming an American expatriate version of John Galliano in his appearance and I fear in his imagination. It must be good to be the king.

Comment if you like, your opinions count for a anyone out there?????

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Now for a bit of comic relief....Spring 09

Here are some amusing parting shots. I know it's CATTY to do this but I it's so much more fun than sharpening my claws on my priceless Biedermeier commode. Why ruin a perfectly beautiful piece of furniture when you can let others do their own damage to their carefully styled images.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It gets better,one day at a time. (AA mantra) Spring 09 Collections

Things start to percolate with Oscar de la Renta,Calvin Klein, Narciso Rodriguez and Ralph Rucci.The sun came out, the tackiest Russian Fashion Casualistas were EVERYWHERE, and some memorable ,even directional collections hit the runways at a full gallop!

Mr. Costa at Calvin presented a beautifully austere and even antiseptic collection , all geometry realized in fabrics derived through pure physics. It was a heady, intellectual romp down a dead serious runway. But what was so refreshing was the notion of his collection practically whispering to the gathered crowd,"Walk don't Run." The shapes were exactly that...SHAPES. These clothes challenged the imagination, created illusions on the body that were totally unique , spare and so very very modern. Ok, so they are a self conscious effort that only really strong independent minded women will look natural in. All the others will doubtlessly look in over their heads in angled ovoid dresses and covering layers over separates. I say covering layers and Ovoids, because these clothes and shapes call for a new vocabulary. They are the future,with which we've been visited . But modern they most certainly are. His offering is an non-FDA approved drug that women owe it to them selves to test. I would take a handful, toss it all down with a big glass of TAP water and wait for the malaise to evaporate.

Oscar de la Renta is becoming a paradox. I can honestly, but not without a degree of shame, admit only 2 times at fashion shows did I walk out in tears. Once at a Geoffrey Beene show 13 years ago and a show of Oscars about 6 or so years ago. I cried at Beene because it felt as though I'd witnessed something so beyond belief and beauty, that I thought there would never ever be another collection worth considering. Like watching a first true love walk away and know what it was you had and also know you'd never see it or feel it again. With Oscars show, also a spring collection, my reaction was equally intense but for a different reason. I felt I'd witnessed the the perfect summation of the most classically chic ,sexy and perfectly proportioned collection that any one in America could ever create. It was so smart, had humor, an over the top quality, but all grounded in a reality to strive for. It was cathartic in its completeness. Everything fit. Everything worked. Yes, there was some gratuitous CHACHA in there but the balance was as sharp as a razor. No Waterloos in sight. I was moved, so the tears came and I went home feeling again like having witnessed a miracle of sorts.
So I was left a bit disturbed with this collection. All the requisite elements were present, the richness, the measured effects so as not to overwhelm, the assured sense of absolute purity of chic and glamour......just no soul. A bit like a sexual fantasy versus actual sex. Lots of pretty clothes, but not young like in recent seasons. The Saint Laurent effect seemed to invade the overall presentation. It felt like Oscar was resting on past laurels, not pushing the envelope nearly like before. I say this not without a heavy heart. He is one of my absolute heroes. I was convinced on 9/11 when his show was scheduled at 11 or 12, that despite what had just happened (not realizing the full and catastrophic degree of the tragedy) that I was sure as hell not missing the show and he sure as hell wouldn't cancel. Well we all know what happened..... I wonder where his business is going. The new guard there gives me pause. Just because Oscar is your step Dad and father in law and Mom is a fashion icon, doesn't give you a key to the kingdom, even if Daddy had a copy made for you.

Narciso Rodriguez had a good day at the races. He showed clothes that were a bit of a departure for him. More color, much more graphic in some ways and a little more overt in their sexuality. I liked the bold black and white striped dresses, as cool as narrow ellipses and the bandage wrapped dresses, which made Herve Leger dresses of the past look safe and predictable. There was a real freedom in this seasons message. I love the obvious technique, the balance between sleek and ease. The end result were clothes perfect for all shapes and all ages. These clothes are a clear example of needing no hype to get over. They stand on their own, they speak for themselves. Now if only the rest of the herd of so-called designers in this one runway town could take a few cues from him.

Chado by Ralph Rucci is really in it's own unique category. He is easily the most advanced couture informed designer on this side of the Atlantic. Part of the problem with that is that he is all too aware of that and makes too much a point of trumpeting it to any any all within range. That said, he is a master at creation. His metier, as he is so found of referring to, is one hell of a thing of beauty, that is if you go in for that sort of thing. It is an acquired taste and is not for everyone. This season's barrage of exits,almost 60 , were a tour de force of examples of his fecund imagination and the utter genius of his technical team. There was a lightness which was welcome and made the clothes so much more accessible and young. The surface treatments, which translate to mere beading or embroidery (for the Marchesas and BadgleyMischkas of the world and so many others) are completely re-invented in his hands. You have to see to believe the solutions he arrives at for solving this design conundrum. Important day and evening clothes call for a degree of decorative cuts and surfaces. Rucci makes his own rules, defies convention and does it in a way that changes your eye forever. His persona in interviews and on camera is overly precious, saying things like" a higher power works through his hands" (PLEASE) but the man is a force of nature.

One day at a time, things can change, even improve. We just have to be willing to put one foot in front of the other.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Spring collections 2009...Benign,Bothersome and Bewildering.

Here are some early entries that remind one of a 3 legged race horse: LAME. How did they make it into the starting gate, let alone the Tents?

Nicole Miller (left). enough said. That stuff should stay on the rack in her many,many,many shops and not crowd a runway. It's one less collection we all need to sit through. It's never been directional and still isn't. That is a perfect example of collection by committee, only everyone is out to lunch. This one gets a C -. C- for cheesy minus charm.

Isaac Mizrahi (right) was as I expected, an expectorant. One coughs so as not to choke. Yes, he is creative, and even a good designer. He just suffers from a bad case of speigleritis. That is a disease whose symptoms are one looking at oneself in the mirror more than looking hard at the clothes you are about to unleash on an unwitting public. Liz Claiborne or Chez Mizrahi.... either way you spell it it comes out looking and tasting like a dish that should be seriously altered or removed from the menu. Abstract embroidered trench coats over short shorts , all sorts of tortured combinations which should translate to style, fall flat. Maybe he should do what most of the others do, leave the job in the capable hands of his design team and stick to schtick. I have to give Isaac a D for Derivative and Dull and Dreary.

DVF (left) was another example of design for design sake. She is an icon, much like Carolina Herrera and the clothes have a loveliness to them. They also go on and on, from one theme to another, none of them holding the hem of the one that came before. Just a hodge podge of looks that in all are just too many and too unimportant in terms of runway material. Season after season, I feel it is the sort of collection better viewed in her shop. It's an opportunity for her to flex her considerable muscle and clout. As the president of the CFDA and the wife of Barry Diller and legend she's good for press. All the hotsies are in the front row, but one can't imagine them seriously taking what they're looking at seriously. Maybe enough to have a clever sound bite when the press asks what do they love or why is Dianne such a great Gal, but this is no Oscar de la Renta collection, or Michael Kors or even Catherine Malandrino. There is no real zip to it, just nice clothes. For this reason I have to give it a C . C is for cookie cutter.

Last but not least would be Tory Burch (right). I know what you're thinking...."She had a show at the tents too?" Well , yes, but so did half of Manhattan.Not to savage such a successful , fresh faced girl -next-door ( assuming you also live on Park Avenue) she put on a thankfully short and charming little show. Thank god it was only 27 exits or there probably been a mass exodus for the Tasti-Delite stand.It was a bit YSL, Chanel, Oscar,Kors(secondary collection Michael Kors) and some Ann Taylor for spice. I would venture to surmise some of it was probably straight out of her formidable wardrobe as well. Lots of shift dresses, safari looks, cardigans,tee shits , odd cargo pants and accessories galore.There was one great belted shift in a pointillist camouflage print that stood out, but all else was just a lot of look a like looks.Why does everyone think they're a designer? It's a disease. Her dish had a little bit of meat, a bland broth with an underlying fishy aftertaste . I guess if you have an army of EWES pumping dough into her already fatty coffers, she believes she is all that. Tory gets a P. P is passing but below grade level.

Believe me there was lots more to take apart, but my aim is not to bore or tire you, and a whole lot out is boring and tiresome, but these were standouts in that category. I'll tell you about some bright lights in the darkness on my next post. There were some truly great collections that took me by surprise. Design is alive and well in some corners of this town and it is inspiring to see them, even exciting!

Spring collections 2009....some inspiration!

Doubtful me has had to swallow a hairball or 3 with what I've seen so far from a few very notable and intriguing collections.: ThreeasFour and Erin Fetherston.

ThreeasFour have designed a very grown up and wearable collection, thankfully devoid of it's experimental aesthetic that was consistently experimental. They have always struck me as a band of designers who dropped out of design school after not making the cut for a diploma. Contrived, self conscious collections designed for the hype machine and the victims who thrive on cotton candy.

This time around the spring 09 collection was a stark departure. One had the feeling that the rent came due and it was time to get down to serious work and show clothes that women could wear and actually want to buy. The shapes had a mature, elegant and still very creative look that made you dream .There was a real richness and uniqueness to the collection. A thread ran through it that made it look and feel thought out and cohesive , but obviously there's and no one Else's. I was impressed and encouraged that some out there are willing to make an audience focus on the real and not come away with an idea of whatwas meant to be expressed. Many many looks were superior to anything they've done in the past. A great collection!

Erin Fetherston was really a standout collection. Very young, modern couture. Her simple straightforward approach to shapes, both friendly and deceptively sophisticated. The slip dress done in light as air chiffon in shades that only hint at color were at once enthralling. The measured use of cut, lots of one-shouldered dresses with insouciant pouffed ,asymmetrical hems and then sparked with a touch of charmeuse as a tie at the shoulder made for just the right degree of elegant interest. A few looks: 22, 27 and 30 used this theme. They were so fresh, accessible and chic that it made other collections look forced. You could imagine look #30 as a bride in the most modern and clever sense. Her gowns followed a similar theme, but the pouffed flounces now divided the slim line of the skirt. I couldn't help but compare them to Facchinetti's couture offerings at Valentino, but with a lightness of hand that out classed that over hyped collection with effortless technique.The ombre chiffons were so soft and cut with such precision as to make them look as though no hands had touched them. this is talent. She really made it look easy, romantic and forward. Erin Fetherston is a star whose light will shine brightly.

On a less than inspired note was the show biz quality of Ruffian (left picture) and Alexander Wang (right picture). Lots of derivative shapes , fabrications and a dogged focus on looks of the past. It looked like a show of student projects trotted out to say," Look at us, aren't we cool?' Wang's message never moved forward which means it remained static or slid backwards. Ruffian did to their credit have some very beautiful cocktail and even dresses, which was a welcome contrast to the tired hippie looks of 4/5 of the collection. If they would work more at finding a voice of their own and not aping the cacophony of trends both tried and no longer true, I could sit still and not feel the urge to sharpen my claws on this computer screen. Perhaps a bit more time spent at work and less on self promotion and party crashing would give them the results they obviously crave: respect.

So there you have round one of the cavalcade of stars. The cloudy, fogged in skies of the past day or so may very well break and give us all a glimpse of design worthy of such a crowded schedule. Til then , I think I'll watch some tennis and hope the balls stay in play.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Forgiveness through Fashion

There isn't any. Fashion is designed to a large degree to separate ,stratify and stigmatize the general public. The concept of it 's purpose as one of flattering the body, empowering the wearer and enabling one to move more confidently through this maze of life is something of a myth.

Fashion this season is for many and from many a vehicle to hamper, and impede the forward movement of our culture. The fashion I am focusing on is the higher end , not the mass end that does the same thing, but out of ignorance and a total lack of imagination.

This is the eve of the Spring '09 collections and I predict we will see a huge change in the general mood of STYLE. It's going to get worse. I'd venture to say it could be a season so without inspiration or direction that we all might as well stay in our underwear and just white knuckle it til next season.

I can't imagine a new trend, a tidal wave that will wash us clean and in it's wake bring a new concept of dressing. I imagine standing water, fetid with the heat of the summer and it's indecision . A season that will reflect the confusion and disillusionment of this country and all that we've held dear. In fashion terms that usually translates to static,and more of the sameness.

There will be one or 2 moments of brilliance, probably coming from Calvin Klein, possibly from Donna Karan and the army of tried and true designers who go unnoticed, Shawn Ray Fons, Angel Sanchez, Isabel Toledo, Heidi Wiesel, Eskandar,Robert Danes, etc. will most likely deliver collections that are inspired, valid and fresh. They do it again and again. Harder, tougher times seem to bring out the steel in these designers. It's the value of experience and also the result of being somewhat underdogs.

The newer kids on the block are generally untested and more susceptible to the vagaries of the clouds, howling winds and Hurricane Judas. There will be standouts, but fewer than usual. Either too much or precious little. Hopefully we'll be spared some of the filler that grows like a fungus each season, taking up more and more space on the Fashion calendar.

Heatherette ,6 as 2, Marchesa, and so many other over-hyped collections will hopefully lay low. Troubled ones like Blass and Claiborne and Anne Klein will be almost silent . Oscar and Kors and Ralph and Marc will be in the face of us all, but perhaps with something to see, to feel to want. Carolina, BMishka and other tired collections will come and go swiftly and if we're all lucky the weekend will come, life will return to normal and we can continue with the business of our lives.

I'm curious to see what the creative designers will do: Ralph Rucci, Ralph Rucci, and did I say Ralph Rucci? Rodarte may come upon with something poetic and life reaffirming, but most won't. Beyond them, one can envision a sea of sameness. Perhaps Marc Jacobs will deliver a 1 2 punch, but with all the press he's been getting, I fear he's distracted or pressured to be brilliant...or both so we'll have to wait and see.

Peter Som,Proenza Schouler, Philip Lim,Zac Posen and so many others will be interesting in the way car wrecks are. You can't look away but what you see can be truly frightening.

As I am a hopeless optimist, I'm sure this foreboding is without merit. It will be a glorious season , filled with new directions,fresh ideas, reasons to shop and dress and strut. It's probably just something I ate, or the fact that the world is going to hell in a Kate Spade bag.

Dianne von Furstenburg will bring us all together. Isaaac will give us all a reason to laugh and the economy will suddenly take a hard turn and shoot for the stars.

Meanwhile, fasten your seat belts, stock up on provisions and buy a very good book...
One with words.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sarah Palin, Role Model for family values...Republican Style

With the happy announcement in the NewYork Times LABOR DAY issue, we are all atwitter with Governor Palins' first major fashion hurdle as the VP nominee . What to wear to your 17 year old PREGNANT daughter's upcoming WEDDING?

I suggest something in mauve with as little decoration as possible. No need to go over the top when your daughter has managed to get pregnant outside of wedlock at 17, some could consider it a bit early and a little naughty considering her righteous and fire and brimstone spouting mother.

Under the circumstances , I think something from Chez Humilite' would be just the ticket. The fewer the cameras, news stations, fellow politicos , the better. For GOD'S sake leave McCain and Cindy off the guest list. This should be a hallowed occasion en famille. No Champagne,(the kids aren't old enough to drink) perhaps Red Bull and Twinkies!

Throwing Rice Krispies is in order. Sarah might go a step further and invest in a hat,perhaps a ski cap that covers her whole head and BIG DARK SHADES.

I for one hope she doesn't decide to sell the photos to People or the STAR, no matter how much money her campaign will now need. I can't see it helping. This sacred occasion is best kept between them and their parish priest......if he's still in town.

Life's surprises are what keep it so darn interesting.