It's good to be the King....even for just a day. Thanks everyone for stopping by for a visit. Time for this puss cat to get cozy and go nighty. I wish you all a warm and peaceful evening. Tomorrow is just that, another day. night night. ...and this wasn't a half hearted twatter, just a quicky from a sleepy boy. Fluff
...or is it a little bit more than that? FrancaSozzani and posse are the steamrollers of inclusivism. Last years Italian Vogue issue was filled with the audacity of Blackness. The issue celebrated the beauty and diversity of black models to the exclusion of the great white wave. It was a ground breaker and for a couple of weeks even a ground sweller. Other prominent fashion magazines including American Vogue had to stop and think(for a hot minute) about the why and why not of using models of color on their pages and why most designers were not using these girls and guys on their runways. It was a very provocative moment for lots of people including readers to examine this pervasive phenomenon. Talks, forums , discussions occurred thanks to stalwarts of the industry like BethannHardison. As a black cat, I was pretty intrigued with the reasons or lack thereof for this insidious white-out that has changed the face of international fashion. As a kitten in the 80's and one that prowled the shows and couture houses of Paris, Black models ruled the seas. Saint Laurent, Givenchy , Bohan at Dior and Valentino were filling the runways with these exceptional models. Then it just sort of stopped. we were hot and then suddenly not. The displacement was originally a choice of Asian beauties, then it faded to white. It was so subtle then that it was hard to point the finger or even to put one's finger on it. It's very clear now. With last years issue Sozzani struck a very loud dissonant chord. The mute pedal seemed to follow it a bit too quickly and that was that. Diversity flickered on a few runways , but only superstar black models were invited to the feast. This time those girls who filled the pages last year have been replaced with Black Barbies...... A clever play on subjects, but ultimately a flaccid follow up to an idea/topic whose time is very much overdue. Did the magazine decide Black Barbie's rates were more in keeping with the recession? Was everybody else too busy not getting work? Or was it just an amusing way of diminishing the actual message? With this country's first African American President and First family the timing for an issue peopled with dolls whose plastic bodies are "darkened" with much the same features of their more famous fore bearers falls a bit flat. It smacks of tokenism, not what we all used to use to ride the subway, but a tepid response to a world which has changed dramatically since the last issue. I'm a little disappointed that Franca and co. couldn't have expanded more on the trail they started to blaze. Europe has historically been more receptive to people of color than the U.S.of A. That is what stymies me now. Yes, it's nice they did it again, but put the energy and money where it's better invested. Give these models the job, and let the dolls be a clever sidebar. They were very chic, very cleverly styled and I enjoyed the mini spectacle. But it was a snack with one piece of lettuce. Hardly enough to nourish or make one ask," What was that delicious meal?" Tokenism is just that. A tidbit tossed in order not to upset the status quo but just enough to say don't look at us, we're color blind....Black models are the same as non Black models, only they have a hell of a lot harder time making a career of it. The same goes for so many other models and people in the fashion industry who happen to be un -white.
I've just read the latest book on Chanel: Coco Chanel Summer 62. What a beautifully crafted and intimate portrait of the designer at the height of her powers. It's a very moving journal of sorts of a day in the life of the Couturier. The shock of it is the joy and seriousness of the woman. We all know about her sharper edges . The steely determination, the tough broad exterior/interior, but have rarely been given the opportunity to see the person capable of obvious generosity of spirit and just plain joy. This beautiful chronicle of the finishing touches to a spring collection complete with images of fitting , cheer leading , moments of contemplation are all shot by Douglas Kirkland. He manages to take his camera and penetrate the veil that surrounds her. The warmth and love of her craft, her intimacy with the models of her Cabine are all crystallized in these images. It makes one want to be a fly on the wall just to witness magic in the making. I've often wanted to see our own Jackie Rogers, a fabulous designer in her own right, in the early stage of her experience in fashion. So many times I've listened to Jackie talk about the old days with Chanel, but have never seen pictures from this fabled time. Douglas has caught Jackie in this book on several occasions before this beautiful defile. Jackie sparkles. Impossibly chic along with others and with such allure. I was incredibly touched to have a window from a time long passed to see her in her youthful glory. This book is a love letter to a woman who swam against a changing tide like an Olympian. Nine more years would pass and she would no longer be the arbiter of a style whose time had ended. The onslaught of the new guard would emerge and take away the focus and change the worlds eyes forever. The legacy that she left is in its fullest most vibrant glory in this book. I loved every page,every expression and learned just from looking what makes a great designer. The rigor and unwavering commitment she shows for what she sees as correct is splashed through each and every image. Yes, it's a world that no longer exists. You see Baron and Baroness de Rothschild with a sleek young Lee Radziwill in the audience and others who played major roles in high culture then. The appreciation and understanding of what constitutes the art of fashion is so palpable. There is a lesson in this. I think the lesson is a commitment to giving every ounce of one's soul to making clothes the best they can be. Fit, proportion and artistry can never be traded for sleight of hand. We all must remember that when designing any collection. The times may be different as is the playing field, but the game remains very much the same.
Besides men, I love menswear. It's fun to be a guy these days and have so many cool clothes to choose from. The old rules of what goes with what and the mix of serious and fun make getting dressed an event, again. One collection I've fallen hard for goes by the name of Duckie Brown. It's relatively new and is designed and owned by 2 very cool guys: Daniel Silver and Steven Cox. This collection has all the elements a complete wardrobe requires. From an incredibly smart trench in what appears to be black patent, rich , elegant and generous scarves with embroidery are absolutely ubiquitous.An elegantly cut tweed jacket over fluid trousers with a fabulously generous scarf was beyond classic cool, it was worth foregoing the rent payment. One pair of ORANGE pants under an embroidered and quilted parka was the last word in sport luxe. The overall pallette is dark: browns, greys, blacks and that unexpected blast of orange gives the collection muscle. Muscle is an important metaphor for what David and Steven infuse in their work. I like men....not tweens or boys, and I certainly don't want to dress like a kid. The alchemy in this collection are elements that might be viewed as super cool and super young but are achieved in a measured , mature way. Perhaps it's the quality of the workmanship and the richness of the fabrics which make these clothes appropriate for grown ups like me as well as the hipster who lives upstairs. When I viewed the Fall 09 collection I saw at least 20 looks that I wanted to possess. Not 20 I liked , but 20 I wanted to wear.Not inconsiderable when there were 24 exits to the show.... That's unusual for me. Not that I'm so hard to dress or please, but that they are so on target with the times and with an aesthetic that is both of the moment and timeless. Duckie Brown is sold at Barneys on the 3rd floor, ALL 8 Scoop stores around the country, Odin and Kessner,Revolve in Los Angeles, 3 stores in Tokyo,1 in Moscow and Vakko in Istanbul. These guys get around..... There is a spirit to to the collection that is very positive, inclusive and firmly rooted in the world we live in.Inclusive in the sense that you don't have to be an urban warrior to appreciate their work. One would look just as right in Omaha as in London , Milan,Tokyo, Istanbul or NYC. Check out their website and go to the stores that carry them. And shop! We all need something to treasure and the rainbows' end is at Duckie Brown.
I was thrilled to read that a company is seriously bidding to rescue Lacroix. That is some of the best news all week,all month, actually. If this is a company that gives him a feeling of comfort and support , then AMEN! Great things happen for us all, we just need to learn the art of patience. That virtue is in short supply when things are firing at us like atoms in an atom splitter. Most would react with panic. I would naturally duck and run. But the last 8 months have taught me and many others of us that patience is all we have to fall back on. Trying to make things happen and change to our liking has the effect of creating less of what we want and more of what we don't. Things appear to be looking up in a very subtle if not somewhat sluggish pace. Change is the constant now. Change is the one thing we can definitely put our money on. So many of my friends and contemporaries are going through huge changes which none of us ever envisioned. But with that comes nothing but new opportunities and choices that will move us all forward. This uncomfortable evolution will probably look like a blessing from the other side. I'm embracing it and am very excited for the new which is around the corner. As long as we do our best to keep an ordered house and look ahead with wide open eyes, we're bound to see some pretty fantastic opportunities with each of our names on them. Try looking ahead and up and fight the urge to look at the ground, or you just might walk right past that door that stands wide open beckoning you in.
I've asked myself the question this week having filled my plate with images from the Couture," is there room left for fashion?" Realistically, I know one can not exist or even survive without the other, but what becomes the more satisfying choice? Both arenas are filled with delicious morsels that satisfy and excite one's palate. Still, which is more nutritious?
You may be partial to Chanel and still have a sweet tooth for Marc Jacobs. Lanvin may send you to the moon but Lacroix is a one way ticket to heaven. Oscar can make your heart race but Dior will bring on a full blown massive stroke.
Elitism and limitless funds aside, the Couture makes fashion look just like what it is , merely fashion. Perhaps this idea is exacerbated by the gloom of a desperate economic malaise, but the creative force which powers the couture is sorely missing in the mediocrity of the fashion business. Pedestrian is the word that comes to mind. I didn't always feel this way. It's an about face to be perfectly honest. Digesting or choking on what passes as important or news breaking fashion is a sad step child in comparison. Granted, the richest materials in the hands of the most skilled can not compare to lesser technique and materials of a more earthbound quality. The playing field is more akin to an alpine range and a deep airless valley. What is a common denominator in this mathematical equation is design or the effort to fire all of one's engines . Every player in this sacred game has the opportunity to propel an idea forward. To hone that idea to it's most profound essence. What repeatedly disappoints me in the larger world of fashion is that too few take the time and effort to develop an idea and actually look critically at it from every possible angle, in every possible light. So often the results are glorified school projects.The label with it's vaunted reputation is rarely better than the new kid on the block. Both are churning out clothes parading as collections racing to the finish line: Collection Week. What we see is what we get, clothes with a glaze of perceived importance. That perception is the result of editorial crop dusting.
I am not for a moment suggesting that all Haute Couture collections trump ready to wear fashion because just look at this season's offerings from Valentino , once one of the most influential houses in the world. You see it's falseness from beginning to thankful end. If fashion is to survive it's time to get down to serious work. The customer needs to be transported. They need to be seduced to choose what they didn't know they wanted or needed. Passion needs to be reintroduced to the souls of the consumer. Collections need to speak the language of poets .
Like a life truly lived, we need to let go. It's time to step outside and plunge into the unknown. For too long it's been about our heads when it should be about our hearts.
The statement : Elegance is Refusal.... Nothing describes better Lacroix's Fall 09 Haute Couture collection. It was a statement of complete and utter refusal. Nothing extraneous. Nothing frivolous. Every piece , detail,and fabric was meant. I have no interest in beating a dead horse and re-telling the sordid circumstances in which he and his ateliers find themselves. We all know and yet Lacroix and his dreadfully reduced hands (only 12 remain) ,with the generosity of friends and supportive suppliers, designed one of the most exquisite collections of his career. Using existing fabrics, a minimum of embroideries,some created in house by these loyal seamstresses and donated shoes by Roger Vivier all melded together to make a statement about the true art of the couturier. Christian Lacroix gave his audience and the world one example after another of what it means to cut, to drape to combine elements that add up to a unique and completely original view of glamor. The collection appears so deceptively simple and yet is the highest and most technically challenging example of the couture. The fact that it was done so artlessly is mind boggling. Models all in black turbans, a whisper of make up, a bold eyebrow and the quietest step. This elevated the clothes in a pallette which was almost all black, navy and a touch of white. There was a sense of deep introversion to the overall collection though some were suits for day and most were dresses and a rare gown for night. These designs seem to be expressions of his soul, the very essence of shape that made real the poetry that dwells within him. After the first 3 or 4 exits I got this overwhelming sense that I was looking at a love letter to Little Edith Beale. It wasn't the turban at all. It was this idea of taking fabric, in this case a printed silk charmeuse, the design of which was pure Franz Kline ,and wrapping and draping it to create a dress of sorts. Eccentric, unorthodox in it's silhouette, yet completely modern. Several other designs were riveting in their audacious mix of elements, volumes and decoration. Not to take away from Lacroix's vision, but it felt like Edith Beale was his muse in all her beauty,originality and strangeness. Like both documentaries, I came away with an aching heart. This collection ended with a bride , the exact image of Madonnas one sees in roadside shrines throughout Europe. The collection was divine in the heavenly sense. Something greater than all it's parts ; something larger than Lacroix was shared that day. If ever there was a reason to support and revere Haute Couture, Christian Lacroix's collection is that reason. It's not about the surface , it's all about one's soul.
Alexis Mabille , who showed a very interesting and compelling mens collection just days ago unveiled his Fall 2009 couture collection. Much anticipation accompanied this presentation. As I've heard so much about this relatively new couturier I looked anxiously at what he would present. For the most part I didn't so much see a collection of couture but a ready to wear collection with some lovely offerings. There were very beautiful dresses, a suit or two and gowns. To my mind very little of it felt like Haute Couture. Granted , the criteria for what constitutes couture is a very broad one but there was a prevailing sense that this was Pret a Porter. Charming, artful creations were scattered throughout. His leit motif and most used fabric was lace. The shapes were very soft and loose giving me the sense that draping, tailoring, a sophisticated understanding of what constitutes flou was barely in evidence. A beautiful suit in white with double breated jacket, frothy blouse and lace inlaid pants was the most dramatic of the suits. A serrated edge on the jacket and the clever inlay of lace running down the leg of the trouser was very elegant and fresh. Other suits were just that, merely suits.One in pale rose looked like Armani collection, not Prive. Another in a rich brocade was a jacket topping hotpants. Nothing about either seemed hand made or even particularly rich. Dresses ran the gamut of a voile dress in white, better suited for a racy french maid. Some of the lace dresses were just banal except for the artistry of the lace itself. Couture is so much more than just the fabrics, but by their shapes. My favorite pieces were the palest blue satin organza tops over circular matching short organza skirts all trimmed with a tea stained lace trim. As lovely as these pieces were, they were too easy, too simple to translate as more than nice ready to wear. There were one or 2 fantastic dresses in silk drap.One column was asymmetrically draped under one arm and fell as a column. Very chic. Spare lovely. But in the end it felt as though he'd not made the leap yet to the vaunted title of Haute Couturier. Here are a few examples to illustrate my points.
Michael Jackson's Final Farewell tour hits the road today. Millions and millions are watching, witnessing and viewing jumbo-trons here there and everywhere. It is a very sad and sordid ending to what has been an incredible and extremely unusual career. I'm surprised that more hasn't been said in fashion arenas regarding his influence on menswear(similar to Elvis' mammoth influence) the accessories market: sunglasses, novelty gloves, abbreviated socks, black loafers,red leather jackets with epaulets and let's not forget face and nose masks of every sort. Oh.... and also scarves and veils. The biggest recipient of his largess and endorsement would have to be the Swarovski Company. Michael was the standard bearer for all things Swarovski. His tour clothes for the ill-fated tour which should have kicked off this week was rife with crystal studded outfits . NadjaSwarovski is notably absent from all the proceedings which stymies me and probably scores of others, as well. I would be very surprised if he weren't interred with a touch of sparkle. I'd go further to say that Michael probably single handedly did the most for that company. Nadja should do the gracious thing and make some sort of statement or issue a statement from the company to the effect that the 'King of Pop' will be missed and acknowledge the contribution he made to Swarovski's popularity. But hindsight tells me that this unfortunate experience isn't considered 'sexy' in her eyes. She's all for the grand gesture but perhaps this one is a bit too down market. We will all say our good byes today , tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. I would like the fashion industry to talk a bit more about his place in fashion history because he was an icon and a huge influence on many many people outside the radar of the acceptably hip and happening. You won't see 500,000,000 people waiting in line when the King of Polo bids us farewell.......
I wanna go to Michael's funeral. I had a couple of Jermaine's numbers, one a fax (310-555-1234) and the other is changed. Joe obviously is not answering the phone in Vegas because at the family home in Encino, Calif. on Hayvenhurst. Can you help or pass my number along? I'm still waiting to be approved for media creds, but that's for the memorial.
Cindy Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
What's the past tense of Tweet? Is is Twat? Whatever it is, this message I should have Twat , had I been versed in the art of the Tweet. I find it absolutely hilarious. Not the fact of Michael Jackson's death , but that someone out there thinks that I am so well connected to the rich and infamous that I would have the # to the kitchen counter phone at Neverland and hook this person up with an invitation to Michael's funeral and /or press passes for any and all events pertaining to the Jacksons . Jermaine, Tito, and LaToya and I haven't crossed paths in a long time...come to think of it, never. Cindy's need to connect with the Family and share in the world's grief was poignant, but her idea that I had the inside track was totally unexpected. Maybe I should have. Does this make me just another un cool, unconnected plebe? I guess so. More than anything , I pray she gets those numbers and the press passes. Just think about it: Jermaine's fax isn't working...Joe(Daddy) isn't answering in Vegas or in Beverly Hills and Neverland isn't taking calls......The clock is ticking and I'm getting worried for Cindy.
This was a long winded Tweet. Consider yourselves Twatted!
That title came from that fantastic Helen Mirren detective series on the BBC,Prime Suspect. She plays a walking time bomb, a serious alcoholic,with a love life in shambles, a poverty of faith , and her job on some very jagged rocks. In short, she is an English lady cop version of a legion of fashion designers the world over......That said, this was an episode where she sort of fucked up(again) and got transferred to the sticks, a backwater precinct where she proceeds to make yet further mistakes. This season in Milan and Paris , for me, was one of similar errors of judgement. I don't have the studied eye for menswear , or a truckload of references to base my opinions on like a Cathy Horyn, a Sartorialist or the guys from DNR/WWD who's career is built on menswear criticism. I shoot from the hip and often aim wide. But I do know what I like and am clear as to it's value and relevance, part of the time. I can promise you that I won't cop to a sycophantic butt licking form of non criticism as it serves no one. We all learn from objective opinions and analysis , so here are mine.
Givenchy by Tisci sucked John Galliano was silly and way too homo- referenced Dior Homme by Kris von Aasche was pretty cool Lanvin with Alber Elbaz and Lucas Ossendrijver was forced an ultimately false Raf Simons looked pretty dead on , I'd shop lift it! Hermes by Veronique Nichanian was ok , but I only accept equestrian clothing when they come with a horse RickOwens was Rick Owens, an acquired taste I've yet to acquire. I'm not butch enough for those clothes and neither are most men and sorry but Haute Goth is no longer cool for grown ups OR Tweens Commes des Garcons was a quilting bee for the absurdly rich. I don't think most men want to wear clothing that Nana made as she was going blind Kenzo by Antonio Marras was very cool, artless and modern, dressing for your own pleasure and looking like a rock star Paul Smith is always amusing , uptight Englishness without the uptightness, plenty of humor and exquisite cut, fabrics and detail
To illustrate a bit more my short assessments I will say that Tisci is a lamb lost in the slaughter house. His ideas for men are banal, uninteresting and worst of all irrelevant. All those people who fight for his legitimacy are shameless roadies and toadies to his empire of smoke. I don't buy it and wouldn't accept a gold lame t-shirt from that collection if it were a gift including a gift certificate. Lanvin will not convince me that thinly veiled women's wear for men is modern or outlaw-ish in a good way. The day you catch me in modified harem pants, a "blouse" and closed toe "SLINGBACKS" that are NOT CROCS....take me out back and bludgeon me.Kris von Aasche for Dior has marvelous taste and and imagination to create new ways for us to dress. It was an elegant , cool unfussy collection. His eponymous collection seemed to be the typical reaction to having 2 babies by different fathers. One is the epitome of it's Daddy, the wealthier of the two: picture perfect, always spotless and at ease in his skin , knowing that he's not only loved but secure. The other is more bohemian, deliberately left to be his own little terror with no limits , discipline or any clear example to follow. That is the feeling I got from von Aasche's collection. Trying too hard to differentiate his aesthetic from Dior and doing it a dis justice. Not bad, just unruly. Galliano is under the mistaken impression that we all want to be swashbuckling, desert taming super queers. Baron von Gloedden was a brilliant photographer ofcompromised Sicilian boys . He shot them very erotically and aesthetically. To take that sliver in time and that theme of the forbidden(at least as far as the Edwardian sensibility was concerned) and make it a theme in a collection is like fishing at low tide. Perhaps his friends find these clothes 'ravissant', but I think it's absurd. Wrapped as if bandaged returning from the French foreign legion, with a rest stop in Napoleon's tent, is just a riot of themes that all add up to a negative number. I'm not saying it doesn't make for a good show, but am I going to spend my rent money on it ? NOPE. As for von Gloedden, I'd invest in a photograph of his before spending it on clothes that at a certain point reference an International Male catalogue more than von Gloedden. There were so many images from the Galliano collection that I will give them their own individual post. As far as Hermes is concerned the leathers are sumptuous as are the layers and beautiful color, but lay off the equestrian references. They are beaten to death and hold little or no mystique on the runway. On a horse in training or competition or even for pleasure, I say an emphatic yes. To lend a collection glamor, credibility or worse, effete snobbery, I say NON! The big surprise from Paris was the collection by Alexis Mabille. It was artistic, clearly thought out, young , but in an inclusive way. There were clothes for the more grown up of us and things decidedly young and very cool. Quality and craftsmanship pours from his hands. Though some pieces were a touch fay, the overall impression was one of a sure hand and a serious mind. That is the photograph I chose for the piece. Milan will be next, but a little light hearted Galliano to clear the palate , first. A Bientot!
Test run in the woods. It's the weekend of the 4th, actually it's not yet the weekend, but I've decided to start it greedily early. I got the hell out of town yesterday and settled into my hideaway of glass. It's in plain view of chipmunks( I particularly like chasing them) , the occasional box turtle that traverses the garden and lawns headed out towards the woods and secluded pond. The birds, a mesmerising mocking bird , a family of red -tailed hawks and the flock of ravens who come and go morning and late afternoon are my sole company. As you may imagine these companions are a far cry from strollers, pregnant women( this is the new look for this summer, maternity wear in all it's clinging , abbreviated horror)sirens and construction sites. Let's not forget the indiscernible sound of toppling designers in the primeval forest of Fashionland. My hearing is so acute I can hear these high frequency sounds when dogs and editors alike mistake it for the high squeal of devil may care celebutants, and associate celebuterns in training. It's a sound that carries more intensely at night when the birds sleep and everybody else is re booting for the next days festivities. So I'm out here, essentially in a Green Acres state of mind. Preparing to put my furs in storage...this Puss Cat relies on furs in the colder months . As you can see I don't have a strand of hair on my head or body. Not even the nether regions which most are blessed to have at least a strand or 2. Nope , not a weave, extensions, or a toupee. They itch and are so 90's. So my furs will go to storage, the studio with it's gleaming machinery, fabrics of the most sumptuous quality and the collections present and past will be archived, stored and ultimately put aside. Simplicity is my new mistress. Deadlines for collections, market week, editors who come only with threats of death, all those amusements are being traded for a less complicated existence; one at a level decidedly human in scale. Separation anxiety gripped me last night but I'm feeling a bit better today. My nakedness feels so natural here. I don't have that feeling of conspicuousness or difference that was a fact everyday in town. Here I feel comfortable in my skin, which is such a blessing when one considers that that's really all there is to me. Copious amounts of skin, which in the past was too easily for some to get under. I feel it toughening. Toughening in a good way. It's akin to growing up. The decision to take a hiatus from Candyland was a grown up decision and not one of fear and flight. More of a self preservation move. The value of my soul and self esteem went up as the economy tanked. There is a frisson of excitement for the future. Changing tracks at this congested station in life is so daunting, but I'm feeling my way instead of looking. My sense of feel is more reliable than looking and thinking. The instinctual move is for me now the right move. So the track is being laid as I inch along. I intend to share with you some bits and images of what I'm leaving behind. Some of you must be curious as to what I'm about and I was /am about plenty. So after I go for a swim (yeah, this cat likes the pool, especially when it's cranked to 86 degrees) work on my tan, I tan brilliantly!I'll give you something of mine to think about besides my long winded diatribes. I wish you could all come and hang out. I have to tell the truth: it's a little lonely here. Impossibly beautiful but I'm lonesome. That too will pass as I adjust. I'm not finished yet, just testing this new world which will be my new oyster in August. Happy Fourth of July to you all and enjoy every moment. They pass so quickly.....in a Madoff minute they're gone.