Saturday, December 31, 2011

ho hO HO!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and Happy Thanksgiving for that matter. It's been a slow month (or 6) for fashion and I've busied myself doing almost nothing more than passing the days reading, eating and sleeping with a bit of a jog tossed into the mix. The spate of holidays this time around has been very different. The shopping and partying experience was decidedly tame. It was so hard to get rolling and then when I did it seemed so forced. Not much seemed worth paying the big bucks for and the crowds that jammed the sidewalks took even more of the thrill out of the hunt. My mother announced that she wasn't feeling it and was just sending cards with money to my sisters and would pass on the tree. My father's absence was so profoundly felt that none of us could quite rise to the occasion. I went home to Massachusetts to play Santa, a complete role reversal as my mother was the best and busiest Santa since I could remember. I put up the tree, decorated it, went to the mall and shopped for her. I'm not handy or clever with anything technological but found my way setting up new TV's for her with HD cable boxes and DVD players in her bedroom and den. The best idea of all was to buy tons of frames and put pictures of the family and my parents throughout the house. I realized the best gift I could give was the gift of all of our images for her to look upon wherever and whenever she wanted. It was hard to go through the drawers and boxes to find them and decide which ones to mount. So many memories came rushing back. The family we used to have and the traditions we used to celebrate have become memories. I kept busy and kept it together just long enough to complete my mission before returning to the city on Christmas day. The next day I came here to Berlin to meet Anton and relax. Sin city is not exactly relaxing but it sure has been interesting. Culture, history and self indulgent pleasures have filled our days and nights. Fashion has been the one thing that's not particularly apparent or important. This is a city of practical people. There's a confidence that seems to transcend the need to preen. Good food, surprisingly good manners and warmth are the order of the day and night no matter how seedy the venue....People actually appear to still be engaged with one another and not entranced by their smartphones. How last century, but so charming. Hitting every museum in town is a great way to spend a vacation. Stopping for a coffee 2 or 3 times a day and just watching people in cafes is my kind of fun. I took a tour of Berlin's underground world of air raid shelters. That was a huge wake up call. When I compare the gravity of what and how people suffered I feel less broken up over Carine Roitfeld and Emmanuelle Alt's broken friendship. Anna Wintour's lonely reign and the questions of who will carry the torch at Dior or who if anyone will succeed the Kaiser at Chanel all pale in comparison. Don't get me wrong. I still care I just don't care that much. Ralph Rucci's new Autobiography, a most sumptuous coffee table book is a delicious treasure worth the small fortune to take home. I'll be back in a few days and will try harder to pick up where I left off. Have a great New Year and if it feels good, don't wait. Do it!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Go Big or go home...

The blogosphere is buzzing with news that there's no news at Dior. More to the point, it seems that talks between Marc Jacobs and LVMH have stalled. Something to do with his wanting to take the Loius Vuitton team to Dior leaving that house without a floor or a roof. Considering his likely demands for a huge paycheck and the prospect of no engine for that fancy car (LV) Monsieur Arnault is between a rock and a hard place. If in fact Phoebe Philo is happy to sit tight and Riccardo Tisci is satisfied to slowly and carefully turn Givenchy into a wholly irrelevant collection that leaves the track wide open for any number of comers. This is where it gets interesting.

The idea that Bernard Arnault is deepening talks with Alexander Wang, Raf Simons and Jason Wu among others should be a nudge to others to throw in their hats for consideration. Raf Simons is a very compelling consideration if you want to push a modernist's view. Personally, I find it very interesting. The history and DNA of the house has always been about the forward movement of a romantic aesthetic. Certainly, YSL took the house forward breaking new ground with each successive collection. Had it not been for his conscription and eventual breakdown and untimely dismissal the house would have likely gone the way of his eponymous collection. He tore through conventions and layed the paving stones for a truly modern woman. Modern Romanticism is the hybrid he developed. Jason Wu is is perhaps adept at a portion of that equation but not, I fear, capable of any real contribution. That picture would likely be ersatz "Jolie Madame-style" at worst and arch posturing at best. Alexander Wang doesn't register on that radar at all. Plus, I think he's truly happy making play clothes.

So, where does that leave us? There are still other likely suspects who could do interesting things there but the murmurings are so hushed it seems almost as though the question remains an open one. There's no reason for anyone to be shy about this. The market is screaming for someone to take a chance. Risk is something that we face on a moment to moment basis. Fear of failure should be left in your chest of drawers. Surely, there are great imaginations out there just aching for the chance to do something great. The Golden Age of design has given way to a New Age, one that is impatient and filled with nerve. I'm hopeful that something strange and wonderful is waiting in the wings. Here's hoping that the big guys in charge choose talent over talk. We'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Loulou de la Falaise

I saw her getting out of a cab one day on 7th Ave and couldn't help but go up to her. Gushing like a school boy, I told her how cool I thought she was and how much I admired her hard work at YSL for so many years and complimented her on her own work. I told her what an inspiration she was to so many people who worked in fashion and those of us who just had a passion for it and how much her sense of style had helped to reshape the way we dress and look at fashion.

She was so gracious and natural not trying to silence my flood of words or edge away. Loulou de la Falaise was probably used to being assaulted by fans. God knows she'd been at the epicenter of fashion history in the making from the moment she joined Yves Saint Laurent's team. Beyond her creation of the jewelry, which became synonymous with the look of YSL, Loulou was a force behind the styling that we've all come to know as the look of YSL. She inspired the master and worked tirelessly at his side. When Yves suffered from mental and physical exhaustion, Loulou and the team helped to keep the collections coming. What resonates with me is her belief in and loyalty towards her friend. Her commitment to YSL went way beyond that of a dedicated employee. She believed as much as he in the importance of his vision.

Just last week in Qatar I met a man, Monsieur Thierry Thomas, who'd been the Premier d'Atelier in tailleur and flou at YSL the last 22 years of Yves' reign. He came to hear my lecture and introduced himself at the end. We sat talking late into the night as he told me of his years at YSL. He told me how Loulou de la Falaise was largely responsible for his getting the position, the youngest Premier d'Atelier in the house's history. I sat there in a state of awe as he relived those heady years working together with Yves and his inner circle. He shared amazing stories about the preparation of many Haute Couture and Pret a Porter collections as well as the fittings he had with many of the couture clients. That conversation was beyond thrilling and gave me the tiniest inkling of what the atmosphere must have been like.

Another great light has been dimmed with her passing. What a fantastic life she lived. She was a great lady and a designer of immense talent.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Before leaving for Qatar I did something I've been meaning to do for the past 30 years. Get a real job, you ask? No, nothing that responsible or drastic. I may have mentioned once or twice that as a kid I used to skate. To be more precise, I was a figure skater from the age of 10 until the year before I graduated from high school. Like everything in my life I was a passionate skater who trained year round with a coach, leaving school everyday from about 11 in the morning to drive to distant rinks, train and then returning home around 6 p.m 11 months of the year. Now, I can hear some of you smirking and saying to yourself that I'm just a copy cat and that Vera Wang is the only skating designer who may or may not have been a contender for the gold medal or a shoe-in member of the U.S. team if not for her A.P. English class, SAT tutoring classes or ballroom dancing lessons in preparation for her debut.
Well I was another designing figure skater or vice versa. Skating was my life and the thing I wanted more than anything with the exception of becoming the first chair flautist of the Boston Symphony or a member of the U.S. Equestrian team for Dressage, and if those things didn't gel, then a really successful fashion designer who also writes, or vice versa. From the moment I saw Peggy Fleming win gold at the '68 Olympics, I knew that sport was for me. Like Vera, I didn't make it to the top of the podium, have the thrill of international judges holding up scores of perfect 6.0 (the old judging system). Nevertheless, I had the thrill of becoming a pretty good skater with a few medals to hang on my wall. My strength was as a free skater and less so compulsory figures, which is something one never even hears about anymore. I was a jumper with a handful of nice big lofty doubles. Triples were a little beyond me unless I over did things and over rotated a double. I never mastered a double axel but my single had a nice big open delay and covered some serious distance.
The point is that skating was a way of life and still something that haunts me. I think about it and dream about it to this day.
I had a dream just before my trip that I've been unable to forget: There was a group of people I was wandering with through a barren field covered in a dense fog with mounds of snow and reeds everywhere like a bog in winter. Out of nowhere I see the remains of boards around what looks like a derelict skating rink some distance off. Like a magnet it tugs at me and I'm running through the marshy snow to see what's there. At the edge the mist is just floating above a surface that is like dark grey glass; perfect, untouched ice. (every hardcore skater's wet dream...) Next thing I know I've pushed off and am gliding across the surface in skates with blades that just cut so perfectly I can feel and hear them slice with no resistance. The ice opens before me to reveal a huge area without boundaries. I'm skating the way I used to, turning, jumping and spinning. As I look down at my feet I see that breaking the surface of the ice are a multitude of water lily blossoms large and open the color of silver. It gives me such a feeling of joy that I start skating loops around them and spinning in every possible position. Then I woke up.
What does it all mean? I can't say. All I can say is the next day I found myself at a store downtown ordering a new pair of skates. I took my old ones with me to show the man in charge and he agreed they were best kept as a memory. I was fitted for a pair of boots and ordered the blades like my old ones to match. When I got back from Qatar I went and picked them up. These skates are so beautiful and the blades are astounding. John Wilson Pattern 99's with a toe pick that takes no prisoners. If there's anything I wish for in skating again it's to learn how to really center my spin and do another axel. Spinning was always a weak spot for me. I couldn't hold the center like so many others around me. I'm determined to find that center. Even I am not blind to that glaring metaphor. A secret wish is to find a guy who is a strong pair skater. The only time I've ever wanted to be a girl is when I watch pairs do death spirals. The girl has such a cool position in that element and I want to feel what that's like. Wearing a dress or make-up doesn't move me, but being the partner in a back outside ( NOT inside back or forward inside... I'm a purist.) death spiral would be my idea of heaven. This has little to do with fashion or fashion criticism/commentary, but everything to do with the things that make me tick creatively, spiritually and just stuff I LOVE. I will give my new skates a test drive next week and will probably have more to say on the subject then.
For the record I had an interesting week upon my return from Qatar. I was invited to participate in a symposium at FIT on "Fashion Icons and Insiders". As that topic is one that I instinctively bristle it was a lot of fun to have the discussion with Eric Wilson from the New York Times in front of an engaging audience. I was very nervous going into it but it went well and the audience seemed to enjoy it. Eric is such a pro and so intelligent. He's a fascinating person to have a conversation with and I would gladly have continued talking well into the night.

I'll look for you all at Sky Rink or World Ice in Flushing where I hear lies the "purrr-fect" surface!
* Blur: a short film by Mark Dennis

Monday, October 31, 2011

Doha : Dispatch from the Desert

Doha, the capital city of Qatar is part desert and part dream scape. The buildings that are going up, the luxury hotels like La Cigale where I was bivouacked are grand affairs. Every important architect in the world has been commissioned to do something there. The university I visited, Virginia Commonwealth University, is just one in a cluster of about 5 in Education City the complex built by one of the the Emir's wives, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned. That woman is a force behind everything from education for the Qatari people to a luxury goods conglomerate, Qatar Luxury Group. She hopes to build an industry there that may one day rival the PPR and LVMH's of the western world. It's all in the beginning stages but is very interesting to watch. I had the feeling that absolutely anything was possible there. Perhaps the largest challenge they face is bringing people from the west to help develop and guide this nascent group of designers and crafts people. The other schools at Education City were branches of Georgetown, Weill Cornell Medical College, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern University and the University College of London. Each school was housed in buildings that were monuments to the legacy's of their individual architects. I'm talking VAST structures of incredible design. Driving through the complex and seeing one after the other it was hard to imagine why a student wouldn't want to go there to study. The facilities at VCU Qatar for fashion, graphic design, industrial design and other disciplines was unlike anything I've seen in this country. Other than reputation, places like Parson's , Pratt, Savannah College of Art and Design and Otis in Ca. were no match for what students were offered at VCUQatar in large part due to the director of the department Sandra Wilkins, a veritable force of Nature. Just for starters, every student was supplied with state of the art Apple computers, all books and supplies necessary depending on their discipline. The equipment in the classrooms from sewing machines, dress forms, computers for pattern making and grading, knitting machines and other things that print fabric or embroider any possible design on cloth or leather, all was at the student's fingertips. The level of instruction they receive was excellent as well. I witnessed it firsthand when I worked each day with the fashion students and the whole graphic design department. Many students were older than the 18-21 years old range we have in this country. That added a seriousness to their work ethic as many students were more engaged in their work than playing games and skipping class. Due to the culture's dress code the look was markedly different from what I often see here. Very little piercing or completely tattooed bodies faced me in class. In many instance I saw only the eyes of many of the females. The guys were very elegant in their long white robes and white head dresses( Igal) with black corded crowns. (pardon my lack of proper terminology for the guys' costumes but I was running ragged each day) The girls were in abayas (long black robes) and veils that sometimes obscured their faces altogether or just covered their hair. Under the abayas were very colorful long skirts, designer jeans and everything from beautiful sandals to Louboutin heels. The latest in YSL, Givenchy, LVuitton, Chanel and Hermes were dangling from almost every girl's arm. The contrast of black robes and veils and these luxe accessories was striking to see. I took pictures after one of the classes as the students made an extra effort to be particularly colorful for my visit. They sweetly lined up for me to capture the beauty of their concealed clothing but all chanting at once, "No Faces! No Faces!" It was against the rules to photograph their faces. Such a pity as so many were so lovely. Having class after class hang on my every word was daunting and gratifying. For a culture that has so much they have a humility and desire to know as much about the west as they can discover. It was an honor to be there and share some of what I've learned over the past 30 years. I hoped that it might make their journey's a little easier and the process a bit less mysterious. I'll tell you about some of the cool people I met in my next dispatch.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Haute Qatar !

That's not sloppy spelling or the effects of too much rich cat food when the dry stuff or a stray mouse will do. I've just been to Qatar and the experience was nothing short of exceptional. It was about a 8 day trip spent with the fashion department at VCUQ (Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar) where I was invited to speak at their Crossing Boundaries lecture series and to work with Fashion design students sharing my experiences and critiquing their work. Nothing new for me as I've played this role over the past ten years at Savannah College of Art and Design, Pratt, Parsons and Kent State University.

What was unusual was the setting and the beauty of this extraordinary part of the world. The reception I received was so warm, and the students so interesting and interested, that it woke me from my somewhat jaded stupor. The fashion machine that we witness here season after season and the barrage of information catapulting our senses has a dulling effect (on me, anyway). It takes a physical remove to realize that so much of what we see, do, think, consume and aspire to is the too in too much. That isn't to say that Qatar is like a remote outpost on the edge of the Arabian gulf or a hinterland with nothing but sand and roaming herds of camels. Believe me it wasn't. It is a tough thing to describe, a strange mirage in the midst of a vast and arid desert. As one of the Arab Emirates it is oil rich. That's actually an understatement. It is crazy rich with almost every single square meter in a state of construction, irrigation or drilling. But unlike Dubai that is leveraged and buckling under the weight of debt, kind of like us poor slobs over here, the Al-Thani royal family has the desire to create a world for the Qatari awash in art, culture, the most mind boggling architecture and state of the art education. With natural reserves of oil and gas under those sand dunes to last a good 400 years before waning they are well set for the foreseeable future.

Having never been to the Middle East, I really had little to go on other than what I read in the press or see in films or on the television. Sex and the City 2 was of little help. I was relieved not to see SJParker and co. slogging through the desert in heels while dragging douche bags, I mean IT bags. That's not to say that the capital city of Doha where all the action is is subtle and without artifice. It was rife with expensive toys, obviously wealthy Qataris and expats. The cars were only the best on the luxe car market. Jewels, fine watches and yes, the luxury goods that dangle from the arms, wrists, ears and necks of the wealthy are there in large numbers but thanks to veils and abayas (robes) you don't see it staring you down like a stroll down Madison Avenue. Mystery was a component of everyday life that kept things interesting. I'm a visual person and am endlessly fascinated by what goes on around me. I wasn't blind to the darkness in the corners of the blazing sunlight. The place was blisteringly hot and everywhere I looked I saw men working in construction, planting trees, watering sod for miles and all of them looked to be Indian, Filipino and other races that were more difficult to identify. As an honored guest my experience was obviously different from that of those who labor in the shadeless sunshine.

Still, I had a fascinating time and met some very special people. Too many things happened over that week to describe here, so I'll dole it out a bit at a time. It's great to be back despite the cold shower effect of a blizzard and a city almost brought to its knees months ahead of schedule. Its shocking to go from booty shorts and a tube top to a down jacket and snow shoes in under 24 hours. But this pussy cat is a fast change artist when nature comes screaming down the pike. I'll be back with more a little later. Inshallah! (definition: God willing)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Louis Vuitton Spring2012: Paper Dolls

One thing about carousel horses; they may be the hardest workers at the fair but in the end they drop you off right where they picked you up. The same can be said for this cotton candy treat that Marc Jacobs whipped up today at Louis Vuitton. It had all the elements of a high minded amusement with a captivating set, beautiful models and clothes that appeared to be something more than they were. From the first, they had a paper doll feel with couture-ish cut out clothes. Flat, hard and fake come to mind. Even the most seasoned models looked out of their depth with these brittle dresses in Broderie Anglaise and organza. Much was made of the matte crocodile jackets and coats that followed in pastel shades. Editors marveled at the techniques employed to match the scales and create an illusion of uniformity to the skins. Well, that's what one does when working with skins of that nature. That attention to detail and technique was lost on a few of the Broderie dresses with flowers hacked in half an misaligned to others that were seamed to them. The lace collars on many of the pieces had that familiar awkward shape; too round, too sweet and so rigid. They are a hallmark of his oeuvre as they appear time and time again in his own collections as well as LV. It seems even the best hands in the business can not disabuse him of this unappealing detail. Still, the look of it from a vast remove was interesting and even beautiful in one or 2 instances. The Prince of Wales plaid slicker with the navy Broderie invading its surface was choice as were the pale yellow gator pieces. The shoes with their metal banded straps and a bag here and a bag there looked worth the price of admission. It's when the dresses become artsy with scrims of organza covering their surfaces with a pleat here and a fold there that I began to ask myself what point was being made? The same question ate at me with his dresses that debuted here a few weeks back in clear vinyl. The same grab, twist and tuck action marred them over and over again throughout the show. All I could think was that it is Marc's idea of couture technique in draping. Sort of the Lanvin/Elbaz method employed by even more confused hands. When the dresses and tweed suits sprout feathers and fail to fly I start to yearn for the fun house or even the side show. Feathers, like clowns, can scare people and not just little kids. Despite Kate Moss' hankering for the spotlight now that she's an old married woman, her closing number would have looked more appropriate on her kid.
The Dior elephant was hovering to the side of the Merry-Go-Round but not out of view for everyone there and the rest of us filling the cheap seats. If this collection and the Marc Jacobs collection that was just shown here are a job application of sorts for the Big Brass Ring, I for one am not convinced that Marc is the right man for the job. The proportions that were proposed here were odd, unwieldy and amateurish. That they referred to shapes that Christian Dior created but without their sophistication and elan is a red flag in my estimation. It would be a pity to not only alter the course of the house yet again, but to send it down a dark and rutted road would be too modern...and not in a good way.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chanel Spring2012: The Pearl Fisher

85 looks.That's a lot a looks. If the big pebble beach set is a metaphor for the multiplicity of ideas to be found in a split second of fashion's beached consciousness, then why not a collection that is more like 4 rolled into one? Now I feel like Cathy; more scientist/analyst than mere fashion journalist/blogger. Still there was everything in this collection including the kitchen sink. How do you say that in French?
It all looked seductively simple with tweed reduced to a relaxed game of warp and weft on net with a mysterious embroidery of a thin black line squaring off in opposition to itself. I liked the off handedness of it. Luxury can be as simple as a dot or a dash. Models appeared to stroll along this phantasmic beach clutching conch shells or pearl encrusted tiny bags. The bubbles that are left when the tide recedes formed the backdrop of the scene. The suits were so clean in white and putty almost like he took a hint from Ralph Rucci's recent spring collection, with curved cardigan and bolero shaped bodies and round full articulated sleeves over deluxe white jeans or sheared and shirred chiffon minis. With all the recent biographies out on Coco, her lovers, supposed Nazi sympathies and more newly uncovered tidbits Karl perhaps is busy keeping all eyes on himself. The dresses that came early on after the suits in beautifully pleated chiffon prints had a very post-Poiret feel like the tea dresses Coco wore as a young kept woman in the house of Boy Capel. Still he seems to have sworn off of decoration relying on a line of black to underscore an idea. No jeweled buttons and nary a single strand of pearls to be found. My impression was one of luxe sport almost like exercise gear in suits and separates. The models had a freshly showered look to them without makeup or coiffed hair as though they had just come from this futuristic beach. Then the collection began again with another lineup of day suits and tweed jackets over puffed, teased and poufed organza skirts and beautiful pale printed abstractions on pleated chiffon, only pleated horizontally instead of the regulation vertical pleats awash on so many other runways in Paris. Some dresses in this segment had rather odd proportions that he delivers now and again. They propose a new shape but rarely go further than just a suggestion. Still they make you think and they also show Lagerfeld as a unique wanderer on the beach, digging away at some possible buried treasure that we've all yet to consider. The tweeds were more laden with decorative touches by way of fringed strips of the same dividing the planes of the jackets and skirts. The colors like a pale tobacco were so soothing that you felt this overwhelming calm like the center of a vast storm. Then another collection took up where the previous dissipated with fantastic bathing suits like delicious minimally draped cocktail dresses minus the skirt. Then, just like Ralph Rucci and his glorious collection of a couple of weeks ago, he shifted back to white in knit and lighter than air tweed suits, an array of pale pastel short evening dresses and ending with white and black. They looked more like forms from beneath the ocean's surface in random threads twisting over grounds of tulle. Nothing had the look of man-made.
As familiar as the Lagerfeld/Chanel lexicon has become he never stops pushing the boundaries of shape and uses of decoration. He always talks about being unsentimental and leaving behind the past to find the future. This show felt very personal in a way. Almost like he's racing to say in design as much as he does with the spoken word. I think he's aware of the passage of time and perhaps wishes he could control it like he does his various and vast empires. Its ok to value today and yesterday. Tomorrow is not a given.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chado Ralph Rucci S2012 : ∞ and beyond....

Let's start at the bottom and work our way up. If God is in the details, then this experience was like hanging out in heaven for a few moments. The floor was covered as the hordes massed. When all were seated the guys who run the show peeled away the plastic covering the runway to reveal a plexi-glass surface with the shade of nude emanating from below its surface. I can't speak for others but from that moment I sensed I was in for something special. Had there been seat belts I'd have buckled myself in and pulled the strap tight. The lights dimmed and from the far end where the models emerged was a wall of mirror fractured into squares. It didn't so much distort as it presented different elements of the room, the models and clothes with a simultaneity. The room, the runway and the crowd was huge. I almost wondered how one could command a space so vast and then remembered which show I was about to see. The sound system started and Bolero filled the air. Anyone with two eyes, 2 ears and a heartbeat knows that that music takes you from point A to Z and beyond. Knowing that he would in essence play with this audience of devotees by sending out a parade of ideas one building on the other, creating a tension through complexity, easing up on that tension through color, shape, detail and then build an even greater tension. It was not lost on me that the palette was almost all white in the opening with shards of silver in python and crystal embroideries. White is the black of the heavens. The collection was a study in light. From the weight of things, to the shapes and their movement, the surfaces and the overall intention behind them he seemed to be at ease. Ralph Rucci may struggle like many of us to keep the business grounded, viable and alive. At his level it must be very stressful, but you'd never know it to look at this collection. A work this profound must be born in a certain degree of anguish but the result was nothing short of joyous. Here is a man who has discovered many secrets to beauty. His signature techniques with double faced wool, the seaming and insertions that were for the most part clear plastic and tulle were bravura displays of technique. Where they had once been little tension points they now are curving, roaming lines that define shapes, reveal expanses of skin making planes of fabric, exquisite matelasse in particular, appear to be held together by air. The embroideries in crystal were so minute that they were almost microscopic. The surface of things in the world of Chado is misleading. What appears to be solid or sheer is more than likely a combination of thousands of smaller worlds joined together to create positive and negative space. There was magic to the experience with clothes that presented one picture as they approached and a completely different one as they passed by receding into the void. A column of wool in white revealed a cerise paillette gown enfolded from behind. There was as much or more interest in many of the looks from the back view. His Infanta gowns which are heady numbers on the best of days were almost stripped of all of their structure. They were beautiful examples of intricate dress making with none of the stuffing or stuffy about them. In all of the collection's intensity and complex techniques Ralph Rucci made it all look easy. The audience paid close attention to everything that passed in front of them. From his wealthy clients, to the editors and the rest of us, there was an atmosphere of intense interest and appreciation. The chatter was all about the incredible things he shared with us with pointing and audible sighs all around. The music grew to its climax and just like a precision instrument the clothes built to their inevitable crescendo. The lights came up over a room full of dazed and delighted pilgrims. Then the roar of a standing ovation 1000 strong. Pretty heady stuff. I would imagine when one has gone the distance season after season blood and sweat is no longer the issue. Going from A to Z is his warm-up and infinity, his destiny.

* check out, but better go to YouTube. there you see front and back views and the movement is everything.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Victoria Beckham S2012: Season to taste.

I'm reminded of that sure-to-be-a snooze film about to open, "I don't know how does she do it." with Sarah Jessica Parker looking at these clothes. Last season Ms. Beckham had a very singular vision that really, for me, was startling and beautiful. Posh Spice, the bad girl, soccer mom, international clothes horse got serious about her new found vocation as leader. Her days of making a spectacle of herself in every over the top look from the best collections were calmly put aside. These clothes are serious and so is she. I had little faith that she could so effectively change horses so late in the race, and then she did. The accessories are as refined as her taste in fashion. The tarty almost trashy aesthetic she once promoted is now an exercise in restraint. A tit show with hems climbing up her tiny butt is a thing of the past and not just because she's spent the last year in a state of with-childom. She's embraced the mysteries of cut, grown-up fabrics like double faced wool, razimir, grain de poudre and shapes that suggest. So with that said, I was a tiny bit disappointed with this collection. It is again beautifully made, in wonderful rich fabrics with details like luggage straps and accompanying hardware that tells a story of her jet setting life. The colors are cool, clear and fresh. The shapes are at times oblique and at others almost coy. It has the look of a collection for the world stage which is something when you consider that she's only been at this for a handful of years. Today felt a bit like Allspice, a touch of this and a pinch of that. Things felt a bit familiar like her go to looks that have filled her closets over the years. There were some jackets that felt like Versace. Chanel was brought into rotation with those sexy, lithe leather leggings. Gucci and Saint Laurent made an appearance lending some moral support. That isn't to say that they were literally employed only that it felt like she was a little overwhelmed with other things to make the sort of statement of last season. The bags continue to delight as does the general high standard of the make and fit of the clothes. They are clean, clean, clean with little or no distracting details. The satin faced organza bubble jacket, like a sexed up Zoran, in dreamy oyster looks like something she probably wore in the final days of her pregnancy. A number of looks would be ideal for a super model on maternity leave. Now that the baby is baked the nannies can take over and she can resume her role as the world weary, Super Spicy, Soccer Mom. For the life of me, I don't know how she does it.