Tuesday, February 24, 2009

YSL Auction Update: Seems like the recession has taken the night off!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous comrade writes:

Top Lot, Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose, 1911 by Henri Matisse, sells for
€35.9 million / £31.9 million / $46.4 million, a world auction record for the artist
8 Works of art sell above €5 million
25 Works of art sell above €1 million
3 works pre-empted by museums (Musee d’Orsay – Centre Pompidou)
Paris – At tonight’s inaugural session of the sale of the Collection of Yves Saint Laurent and
Pierre Bergé, offered by Christie’s in association with Pierre Bergé & Associates auctioneers,
one of the most significant collections of Impressionist and Modern art in private hands today
fell under the hammer under the glass domed roof of the Grand Palais. In the presence of
over 1200 collectors from all over the world, 59 works of Impressionist and Modern Art sold for
a total of €206 million / £183 million / $266 million, a world record for a private collection
at auction and a record for the most valuable auction in Europe. The top lot of the evening
was Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose, 1911 by Henri Matisse, which sold for €35.9 million / £31.9
million / $46.4 million, the highest price ever achieved for a work by the artist at auction,
and 8 works of art sold for over €5 million. 25 works of art sold for over €1 million (24 lots
for over £1 million / 25 lots over $1 million). Buyer activity at the auction (by lot / by
origin) was 70% Europe and 30% Americas and 7 world records were set for artists at
auction, including Matisse, Brancusi, Mondrian, De Chirico, Duchamp, Klee and Ensor.

very exciting sale - go to christies.com to see it all

February 24, 2009 9:20 PM


Fashionista.com is for the undead.

I've tried to go there with an open mind to get a grip on what goes on in the minds of Fashionistas.Try as I might, I can't figure it out. It's part Mick ey Mouse club, silly Model and Bad Ass designer fan clubs, trivial pursuit gameslike, 'Which model reads the dictionary between shows?' My answer to that is, They ALL NEED TO.
I've weighed in on some interesting topics like : why does the earth revolve around the Tents?and what color is black? These are truly tough questions, but I give them my all. Usually I get commented on by others more intelligent than myself with responses like: I find you annoying, I hate your name and I'm sick of you leaving your SPAM site address after each of your comments. These are just incredible to me. But I go back repeatedly in hopes there is something of interest that I can learn from or even contribute a comment that may be enlightening to some or shared by others.
Either way, I have to be grateful to Fashionista.com because many readers have visited my blog as a result of my reading it. I thank you all for your curiosity and indulgence.
What I really hope to gain is knowledge as to what matters , what resonates with the Fashionista of today. She/he is not the same person from 5 years ago, or even 1 year ago. We are all ever changing with interests and passions constantly on the move.
So as much as there are lightweights filling that site, perhaps there's something there worth mining....But I'm probably searching in vain.

Attention YSL Shoppers!!!! Huge sale in aisle 3!

Today starts 3 days of intense non-bargain shopping at the Christies Auction at the Grand Palais in Paris. It's just about everything that YSL and Pierre Berge collected together over the many years they were partners. It's huge and so are the price tags. It's also beautifully rich and deep in it's content. They had exquisite eyes for paintings . From old masters to the modern , they collected their favorites IN DEPTH. It's never one of these and one of those , it was 5 and 10 of each. They needed multiple homes just to make room for their treasures. I saw in my 6 volume catalogue, page after page of the most extraordinary things. The environments in which they both lived were a world of inspiration, comfort and splendor. Every wall, surface and space was inhabited by the things of Dreams.
I will watch over the next 3 days the live auction on my computer ( you can too). Just go to Christies .com and get the simple instructions. I will look forward to seeing many of you there. If you are tenacious , I'm sure you'll come away with a treasure of your own. Bon Chance!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nuns and Poseurs

Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein is fast becoming what I consider a fashion Nun. His labored modernity, this worshipping at the alter of the Minimal is getting a bit too studied and ultimately tired. This is not to say that the collection for Fall is not without it's oasis of freshness, but the desert stretches on between sips of cool clear water.
The clever deconstruction and reconstruction of shapes with seams redirecting the eye is masterful, but at the end of the day( or 20 minutes or so) it starts to feel like a forced march. I love his eye, because it is so exacting. His use of felted wools and uber modern fabrics are a peek into the future but it never stops. It's a bit like Ralph Rucci with no reset button. They just go and go and go. After a while, as with Rucci, one owns the lexicon of shapes and one is forced to repeat their wardrobe or move on. Costa should consider this in the creation and editing of the collection. It's not a sin to throw a little hamburger in with the fois gras.
Exits#28 and #29 were beautiful jersey dresses with just enough twist to make them great and clearly Costa , but a roughly woven windowpane dress and suit with the asymmetric collar even looked like Rucci. The point that I make here is that these high tech fabrics for the most part are not people friendly. They wear you not the other way around. They are sharp ,hard and unyielding. The shoulders, elliptically shaped hips and bodies do not move with the body. they revolt against movement. They are at their best when viewed standing still. That isn't how I see clothes functioning on living, breathing people.
You be the judge.

Posers would be someone like Vera Wang. This is the hardest working girl on 7th Avenue. No one has tried harder to prove to themselves and others that they are a DESIGNER. Bridal gowns,ok. Clothing for the masses at Kohl's, maybe. Fashion for the discerning woman, NOPE. Season after season she cobbles together looks so unrelated and disparate that my eyes roll up in their sockets. Bottom line, she has a very strange eye for detail ,combinations of fabrics and pieces. It's so random that it becomes that:random. I've rarely seen a piece from her that truly made me stop and want to see it on someone. I rarely go places where I do see the clothes on someone. So why? This season was an homage to Peggy Guggenheim. I say like Peggy she should spend her fortune on art and shop like a maniac( which she does) and leave the heavy lifting to others. It's ok to have style and lots of cash, to also have a very successful bridal business, but designing fashion is altogether different.

I'm not convinced that she can.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Takes Big Guns to stop shooting blanks.

Donna Karan is for real. A beautiful collection of fantastic , creative and for the most part , original clothes. Her work makes you stop, look and yearn. Great color, color combinations and draping that makes you want to fill your closet with everything she's giving you.Jersey is the fabric of forever . With her palette, I've never seen a neutral I didn't fall in love with. Past collections have tried too hard , but this season she got down to the essential statement: dress for yourself, combine what you will and go out and face the music.So much that has been shown this week is so forced and immature in comparison. Her collection was a tour de force.

Marc Jacobs (at right)is at best a poser at worst a lazy one. There were one or 2 pieces that I liked in his show , but overall it was a let them eat cake moment. Too bright, too obviously designed by multiple committees and too slow out of the gate. It all references his references. Marc looks as though he'd rather be adored personally in that man-tan Tom Ford sort of way than actually work. His love of his own press is all too obvious. Still some nice clothes, styling that was really the secret and grand in scale. That for me is not enough.

Rodarte(at left) is a bit beyond me. Everyone sees this collection as so directional and important. I think they should stop trying so hard. The boots rocked, the venue was fantastic, but the collaged everything is so studied and not new. I see this sort of work in senior design shows at fashion colleges too many times. Granted they do it best, but that's what I think of every time I look at their work. Interesting distressed leather and mixes of rich skins and textures, but not clothes I want to see in real life or on the runway.

Michael Kors is perhaps repellent on Project Runway but his collections are never a disappointment. His work is urbane, clever, chic and always right on time. There is a maturity, a mastery of technique and an imagination that whips it into a delicious meal. It's a feast of riches but always presented in a way that makes one want to possess his clothes. I'm always struck by how right it looks as opposed to Marc Jacobs . He's what Isaac Mizrahi wishes to be. Of this moment, referencing the culture of the past and laying down new roads for the future. The colors, fabrics ,styling , all the pieces fir in his deceptively simple puzzle. It was a highpoint in this plodding week.

Oscar de la Renta,(at left) once one of my favorite collections is looking it's age , of late. He has consummate taste but no new ideas. The same signature drape from the shoulder or at the base of the neck turns up again and again nor for 3 seasons. I don't understand it. He tries the old odd ball mix and match and it looks like a stylist desecrated "costumes" for the salke of some "shake it up" styling. Then there were the animal prints done without much imagination. The suits were staid, colors classic and the ball gowns heinous. It's going to be tough for Eliza Reed Bolen to find something to wear in this batch. I am disappointed be cause he is a classicist who has consistently found a fresh vocabulary to express an ongoing poem, year after year. This season he appears to be tongue tied. I include this picture, because I couldn't find another that wasn't boring or repetitive, or not chic.

Narciso Rodriguez(at right) is another one who seems to be resting on his laurels. He is the modernist, along with Francisco Costa and Isabel Toledo, but he's the coolest. This season was uninspired with a few exceptions. Those exceptions( I've included the most glaring one) are interesting because they appear to be expressions of humor, but with a sure hand and a real beauty. It looks like the studied mathematical spareness of the body of the collection gave him a bit of a headache, so he had some fun. Graphic , bold eye catching fun. And I LOVED IT!. Would love to put it on a mannequin and display it as art. He is a sharpshooter like some others mentioned this morning and thank God we have these talents to look forward to in a sea of bottom feeding carp.

There are others to be considered, but for the moment , it's time to go out and enjoy some fressh air and clear my head. Have a great day all and remember," It's only a dress".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Season in search of a theme...or a sign of life.

As hard as I search , I can't find one. Have never seen a series of shows that are so ,literally and physically ,all over the place. Not in a good way either......I will have to just take one patient at a time and check for vital signs. Don't think I'm not trying or not caring, just searching for a pulse.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fall collections: Chapter 1

Abaete:(at left) so so. Nothing newsy just some good hair and make up.

Prabal Gurung:(at right) Blass from the past. Better than Peter Som , but not good enough. Same fabrics, no truly new ideas. A quality of craft that was acceptable but not inspired. Looked too much like M.Vollbracht after a face lift. The real problem was that the clothes didn't look very young(particularly this one) so the idea of a fresh take , a message of the modern was left on the cutting room floor. Admirable start but a voice neither clear or his own.

Charlotte Ronson:(below left) the only point of interest was Lindsay Lohans's presence. The front row looked as bored as the clothes looked boring.It's flannel jammie time.

Peter Som:(right) Stills taken that went straight to video(style.com). No runway, just static clothes in the hobo style. This , that and the kitchen sink. Uninteresting self conscious coolness that was the furthest thing from cool. Hasn't he learned anything at Blass or in his own atelier. A perfect example of ego having gone unchecked. Some designers feel that they must show and that their clothes are runway worthy because they've shown many times before. You must look with an objective eye and be your own toughest critic. This collection looks as though no one said anything but ,"YES". I say ,"Not this time...".

Jason Wu: (below left)Well everyone was there to see the birth of the newly appointed prodigy. Was a middling show with a few pretty things . Most of the exits were naive , technically and artistically. Granted, the pressure must have been crushing. In a situation like that , I think he should have done less and what was done should be done perfectly. To big a hurdle in too short a time. You are allowed to walk before you run. In this case , learn to balance standing still before taking steps . People would appreciate it much more . I would have. His pony was jumping a fence that is suitable for a better schooled and more experienced horse. He has obvious talent, as this dress clearly shows. This was by far the loveliest in all 36....this was #30. I'll even be so obnoxious to say that this would have been a much lovelier, alluring and sexy choice for the Inaugural ball, but that's 20/20 hindsight. No overnight wonders have ever been born in this business. They've all paid their dues. He's no different.

Three as four: (right)Who could see it in that gallery space so crowded you could neither enter or see clothes barely visible over the heads of the unruly crowd. What I did see was more of the same. No news. Well actually the news was they can effectively reproduce the same dress about 12 times with slightly different colors and toss in about 4 suits. So there you have it : 16 looks that look like 2.

Rachel Roy(below) staged an elegant presentation, only it wasn't really hers.It referenced other more memorable collections from last season....mostly Stefano Pilatti's for YSL, but even that is a stretch. These were not horrible clothes, just lifeless and ultimately useless. Some unusual cuts gave one or 2 of the cocktails and gowns some interest, but there was a lack of quality in her choices of fabrics. This dress with lace overlay is a case in point. It looks like inexpensive machine made lace from China. Cheap looking fabrics in awkward proportions do not a collection of NOTE make. It was a lovely staging...more elegant than most of the others, it just would have been nice had it been her voice we heard..... More an inexpert Lip Sync.

You may find my criticism curt and overly critical, but with so many showing and so little worth seeing, I feel compelled to cut to the chase. When it's great (to me) I'll say. Meanwhile, I call it as I see it. I haven't seen much yet. For pics of these collections to judge for yourselves , go to style.com.

More tomorrow......

Happy Valentine's Day

a Valentine vers /e
in terza rima
Cupid faced our monetary mess:
a free-fall market and a limp libido.
He tried his tricks: a trickle-down caress,

a plunging neckline Dow, a tiny Speedo,
Botox lips and massive liposuction,
jetting bankers to the sunny Lido,

breast enhancement or a rate reduction.
Nothing worked, not even little pills,
the purple kind, whose chilling, grim instruction

warns us that prolonged tumescence kills.
Four hours are the limit. Such is sex
these days, the body's punch-clock sends out bills

for too much pleasure. Time-accounting wrecks
the fun that primed and pumped up wealthy Cupid.
Is there some way to purge this Wall Street hex?

Something silly, comical, and stupid?
Something that the GOP would do?
That's it! A dance revival starring Cupid!

His band, The New Erotics, like the Goo
Goo Dolls, will tour from Vegas out to Frisco.
Forget the Boss, Cobain, and Motley Crue.

Our loverboy is resurrecting DISCO!
Stayin' Alive with mirrored, spinning balls,
and moves so smooth they seem like liquid Crisco.

Wrap-up Rap and Rock. Travolta calls!
Amor vincit omnia! It's clear.
Bell-bottoms reappear on guys and dolls.

So once again St. Valentine's is here!

love, RR
February 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Saks is playing with a stacked deck.....

Have you heard that Saks Fifth Avenue is planning on a continuing practice of the slash sale pricing strategy? They feel it is the answer to move forward. This means that the designers , suppliers and all others who put merchandise in their stores will no longer be the masters of their own destiny. So that Saks can keep it's head above water , or level with the surface are going to use, abuse and sacrifice the very companies which have made it so great.
When their credit rating was downgraded to "RISKY" , they instituted this brilliant business plan.
Personally, it looks like a huge red flag. Sell merchandise to Saks at your own risk. What is so insidious about this whole deal is that they know how desperate companies and designers are to sell and to sell in their stores. The cachet of selling Saks is so tempting. There are many temptations in life with horrific downsides. This could very well be one of them. One false move and one risks total destruction. It's a gamble with the odds stacked against you.
Saks isn't the only one who's credit was down graded: Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms, Macys and others were too. That means what we knew as the MAJORS have all become risky minors. Companies like Chanel,Ralph Lauren,Dolce and Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, any and all of the LVMH stable are as much at risk as the smaller houses only they have the capital to take some of these knocks. Others will be much less prepared or protected.
Designers: Proceed with Caution.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thank God it's Monday

This is the day most dreaded and always the most rewarding. It's impossible to get out of bed , even with 36 hours sleep. It's even harder to make the coffee, step in the shower and think of something to wear . There's a feeling of doom. Many times I get up, have my coffee and then get back into bed.....for 20 minutes unless I actually fall asleep.

Once showered,dressed and subway bound , the day's magic starts to take hold. The activity and hordes of people are a natural stimulant and I find myself getting slightly excited to get the day going. The office is buzzing when I walk in which allows me to catch the first wave. No wading out to deep water, it's plenty deep the moment I walk through the door.

One thing leads to another, to an appointment, calls, emails, problems, problems solved and some new problems coming up behind for good measure. Before I know it, I see progress and it's suddenly 3:00 pm. That's the real beauty of Monday. It tends to fly. A look at the calendar to see what the rest of the week has in store sets me up for the next commitment to the day. That is going out for a bit of mental exercise. Very important for starting the week. It's a way to order what was last week and make way for this one. Once that's done, I take the train home and walk slowly to my haven of coziness.

Once there, I light some candles, set the oh so important lighting, turn on the Bossa Nova and make a big mug of tea. Off come the clothes and then a bit of stretching and physical exercise before dinner. This is by far the best part of the day. I push myself in ways I never thought possible and surprise myself that I'm capable of such exertions at my age. But the feeling is so satisfying that I wish I could muster the discipline to do the same everyday after work.
After a light dinner, off to bed and my book of the moment, Dorothy Parker Short Stories, and lights out at 11:00. As I drift off, I think about how I dreaded the day, but in the end every inch of me is warm, relaxed and ready for the rest of the week. It's probably exactly the same for you.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

what I love about Sunday morning

I wake up a little early and jump on my Mac to go for a spin. My morning exercise. Before I get far , assuming I've slept in and it's 10:30, I hear a stirring upstairs. I start writing or reading a bit faster because the beast is stirring. This is my cue to head for the coffee maker and whip up a nice strong Latte with Half and Half and 2 Splendas. The footsteps overhead are starting to shuffle at a slightly quicker pace. This can only mean one thing: the door will open and the day will assume it's new shape. What was me and my Mac will shift to WE. Like every morning for as long as I can remember I'll hear,"Guten Tag". A big sleepy smile from my lanky sleepy mate will shine down from above . The New York Times rests on the gravel at the foot of the driveway. One or the other of us will stumble down to grab it . The coffees are nice and warm, the day is ours to do with as we please. If nothing gets done and we just lounge around , it's one of the most satisfying days of the week.
Enjoy it, I will too.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

God doesn't have a favorite Design House

I keep reading that a savior or the Messiah needs to sit in the front row of the collections which debut next week. Many consider that person to be Michelle Obama. Again and again, one reads that if she were to grace the front row it would send a message to the world that she will wave a magic wand and turn around this ailing industry. If only it were so simple. The truth is that it isn't her job, obligation or responsibility to do this. More so, it's not going to make any sort of difference. And most importantly, Mrs. Obama has more integrity and sense of purpose . The job of turning this situation around rests on all of OUR shoulders.

WWD wrote this week regarding the Credit Rating downgrades of several major department stores.This was not a surprise but still shocking. When that list included Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue,Macy's and Nordstrom's, that pretty much killed the concept of their majority. These retailers have been the backbone of the American retail landscape as we've known it. There is a fundamental paradigm shift in the minds of the modern consumer..... they no longer consume.

When you consider this bitterly cold , hard fact you have to question the point of NY Fashion week. What does it hope to accomplish? How will it change and alter the prevailing mood? The solutions to this stalemate are a mystery ,but also very simple. You/we/all of us who can, must make a concerted effort to try to do something.Fashion is just one small facet of this struggling economy. There are many more grave situations that make this seem petty and frivolous. Nevertheless, it is an industry that many of us work in, have given our lives to and have been sustained by. The effort needs to come from us. Those of us who can in some small or larger way must take that step.

Like sit-ins in the 60's , we should stage SHOP-INS. They can be anywhere at any time. Get some friends together, it's more fun and effective in numbers, and go to a store and buy something. Hit the sale racks and get something useful. It could be as small as a lipstick or as big as a great gown that has been marked down to the ground. If we did this in stores of all levels once or twice a month or more and kept it up for a solid year, we might see a shift. That means 25 to 50 purchases over the next year for each of us. If some of those purchases are at full price for the fortunate ones who can afford it, then even better.

Perhaps Michelle Obama's wisest gesture is to make a point of purchasing the clothes she wears whether privately or publicly. THAT would be an example for all ....yes, that includes you too, CELEBRITIES.

Friday, February 6, 2009


ab·re·act (br-kt)
To release (repressed emotions) by acting out, as in words, behavior, or the imagination, the situation causing the conflict.

This feels like a good place to start with regard to the upcoming collections. This season like no other will be the utter definition personified in clothing. Fashion that is a reaction to or against the climate in which we now live. Big word(one I just learned last night) but a very useful and timely one. There is no right or wrong in this idea , only a very compelling picture that it conjures. What will we do? What will we see? And most importantly what will be the end result.

Judging from the menswear collections that happened in Europe , there appeared to be a consensus in the imaginations of many design houses. From artful , even humorous offerings from say Dolce and Gabbana to a more somber and sensitive offering from Bottega Veneta, Burberry Prorsum and Jil Sander. We are looking fort comfort in a cold and threatening climate. I don't think that the fact that it's a fall season or spring, the end result would most likely have been the same. It comes down to a reality check, a correction of sorts. Men will probably look and dress the way they feel:seeking security. The Teddy Bear Effect.
Personally, I think it's brilliant when designers, artists ,writers, musicians and lot of other types cut through pointless artifice and express truths. Honesty is so threatening to most people. The clothes I saw spoke to me of Honesty. There is a humility in this way of creating as it's truly modern, it speaks to the present and it honors the integrity of the craft. Fashion should always reflect in some fundamental way the atmosphere in which it is born.

This in no way negates creative vision or an effort to move the ideas forward. This is more a statement about the nucleus or seed from where the collections are hatched. I felt as though the clothes were a code to be deciphered. They said in so many different ways that we all possess the pieces it's only a matter of putting them together differently. Metaphorically, We all have the knowledge we only need to use it in a fresh way. How great is that? Add here, subtract there and BINGO! you're on a fresh path. So many great images from the streets of Florence, Milan and Paris were taken by that master http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/, a very intelligent blog. His lens captured perfectly this idea. Go to it and see for yourselves. It's like a road map.

The couture, which is it's own abreaction is a story all it's own.It's an even more complex one, but worth dissecting. I'll toss that one around next.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


That term is so apt for our lives/my life . It applies to the rhythm of the world and life in particular. This means even Fashion is included. It is an Alchemical term from as far back and the ancient Phoenicians. The symbol is the dragon or serpent biting his own tail. Life and death, starting and ending, the regeneration of life. I'd go so far as to say "The what goes around,comes around "principle.

Considering the new Fall 09 collections are soon to be upon us , this is an unusually tense moment in the now of now. We're in for an interesting barrage of visions. I'm very curious to see how Fashion will define itself . The Mens collections on the whole were very telling. In a nut shell, it's time to hunker down and wait for what will be a very long and cold winter to pass. We can do it as "Innocents" dresssed as school boys, albeit uber stylish ones or we can chill out as very butch ,nothing scares me types. Even that group has the feeling of guarded bravado and uncertain physical and emotional strength. On the whole I really like it when men are less cock sure and more humanized. It has a romantic, tender quality that is very sexy, appealing and empathic.

Raf Simons for Jil Sander, Burberry Prorsum and Bottega said it best. There was a humility to the fabrics, the cut and a distinct lack of tricks in the styling of the clothes. They had almost an Un-New quality that was hot. Like you went to your closet, pulled out some new and old favorites and mixed it up. That is totally indicative of how I see living life today. We need to take what is treasured and add a dash of freshness, by way of unexpected combinations, a new haircut, a change of attitude or a new pair of shoes and work it like today is the last day to dress up. Face it.....many of us have so much more than we need to get by. Whether it's clothes or toys or a lifestyle that's not totally flushed down the proverbial John, we can still Rock and Roll.
Looking at these collections gave me the feeling I need only to go into my closet or walk outside and try looking at it all with a fresh perspective. It's time to fill the glass, not empty it. Guess what? we can and WE MUST. I'm tired of being bummed out and most of you are too. Broke or not, we can still make our lives count. Getting dressed in a new and clever way is certainly one way to start the day.

So the dragon eating it's tail is just what Fashion and life does daily and seasonally. We RE-GIFT ourselves and everyone around us. We keep it coming because the only other option is to stop. From endings come new opportunities. From last season comes a shot at a new language to learn. Poetry remains just that whether the words mean anything to you or not. It's that sound, that feeling you get when it enters your soul. What you make of it is up to you. But like a circle, and I LOVE circles , it just keeps coming. The door is always there. We only have to open it and pass through.