Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Month of Fashion

After taking a short hiatus and trying to clear my head from a long series of fashion weeks, I thought it only fitting to “muse” on the topic or maybe offer some observations and maybe it is to proffer a litany of suggestions for the next grueling cycle. So read up and let me know what you think….

Aside from the ungodly duration of what was once referred to as  collection, there is now an extra added element of torture.  Collections used to focus on the top tier of designers who showed in the so called 4 major fashion capitals but alas that has changed dramatically. In today’s world of fashion we have supposedly become more democratic and less snobbish which translates to anyone who can pay the tariff gains entree into a once rarefied world.


Shows varied from city to city in terms of production, stature and size and yes they were always regarded as a rite of passage as having “arrived.” Well, that is all changed as we now have such an extreme homogenization  that a “buyer,”  if there are any left, a press person, or any attendee of the cycle might have trouble knowing exactly where they are! Models are robots, the staging is one at a time for the most part and all the clothes seem to just blend together.


Complicating matters even further is that the once rarefied air of collections is breathed by every classification of designers, whether they are at the designer or couture level or at the contemporary level. No matter what strata of so called design that they hail from, the clothes look the same with very rare exception. We have designers who are of the “me too” variety and then we have designers who will do anything to project themselves as “modern” or relevant and lastly we have intellectual designers who need to pass out press releases or as I call then instruction booklets beforehand as to explain or as I see it to justify the collections that they present.


Gone are the days when clothes spoke for themselves. Today we seem to have “critics” who spend more than half their verbiage speaking to the venue and the haughty inspirations of the so called intelligentsia of designers and a lot less time speaking to what they have seen. Once again in most cases, read one review you have read them all. Apparently now that big business has crept its way into hallowed halls of “high fashion” one can’t help but get the feeling that reviews are bought and paid for by advertising dollars. If that is not enough, then consider than if Conde Nast, which now controls a good part of what used to be referred to as  genuine fashion media, is not your ally, well, then you are on the outskirts of the new inner circle.

Where we once had characters such as Hebe Dorsey, Bernadine Morris, Mr. Fairchild, Mr. Coady and a host of  other reality based critics or reviewers, we now get  Suzy Latkes, Shooting Blanks, Feeble Phelps, Cate Horny, Nuclear Winter and car loads of 20 and 30 somethings  who give equally non informative reviews of what is paraded in front of them. Gone are the reviews which actually opined about the collection. Gone are words like ugly, distasteful, monstrosities, jokes, disasters and many such adjectives and nouns that pejoratively spoke about deserving collections. Today we have general bland accountings and only raves are reserved for the so called pets.  Oddly, those raves never really speak of clothes but speak around the clothes providing useless information that is supposedly the justification for usually ugly and ungodly creations that should have been panned rather than lauded.


The system is broken. We have the SEC which supposedly controls big business which SUPPOSEDLY prevents monopolies and yet we have a monopoly or series of monopolies at work here in the fashion business. Whether in media, or ownership of design houses or in retail, we are ruled and subject to the whims of the very few. We have lost what made this business exciting and vibrant. We are devolving instead of evolving and most sadly is what we have lost so much creativity due the search for acceptance.

As Grace Coddington said “I liked it better when fashion came first!”

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Louis Vuitton Spring 2014 Paris Collections

With the rumor mill working overtime and if it is true, the final Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton collection was one to be remembered for many reasons.  First and foremost is the fact that these clothes must be excruciatingly expensive.  Second, I never understood the hoopla surrounding the clothes as they are only sold in LV boutiques and to Saks.  Third, it must be noted that it is Marc Jacobs who ran the distance and converted the sleepy brand into a fashion juggernaut after it languished for years with a logo handbag.


The Spring collection surely appears to be an ode to Cher and in turn Bob Mackie and if in fact that is not the case then everyone better reexamine the “inspirations” here.  The clothes are all black and over the top.  One has to think that it is conceivable that the Dior workrooms have been busy preparing this collection as the workmanship is far beyond anything that this house has ever shown … surely in its breadth.  Workrooms/ateliers that can produce this level of craftsmanship are not to be found on every street corner and keep in mind the 2 brands are under the same corporate umbrella.


Not being a fan of Mr. Jacobs, it pains me to say that it is amazing  that within this extravaganza of excess, the designer has managed to produce some covetable if not staggering pieces.  The level of detail is in many cases rivals that of the haute couture.


Here is an extreme case that the clothes outshine the venue and that the clothes assume the starring role as opposed in the past when they were seen as being supporting cast to the venue.  What comes to mind here is that since the clothes are so out of the realm of reality that the collection might be the best he has ever produced?


In ending, Mr. Jacobs has generated more fodder, more free publicity than LVMH could ever have hoped for, most importantly he has generated HUGE amounts of wealth for himself and the brand.  My hope is that he enjoys his wealth and hopefully he has his health and will just fade out from this brand in great comfort.

PS… if the rumor mill is correct and Ghesquiere is next in succession to the throne … good luck with that!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Valentino .. Spring 2014 .. Paris Collections

Without question, two of the most striking aspects of the collection are the impeccable and flawless execution and the workmanship.  Moving on from that point, the collection, to me, is very wintry with very few exceptions.  Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli  have a very monastic and almost virginal approach to the appearance of the collection but this season that has morphed into a look that is seemingly very close to that of ladies of Dolce& Gabbana.  Yes the models do not look at robotic or as walking dead  due to a touch of makeup but the overall picture is very very D&G!  I am sure it is not conscious but nevertheless it is quite apparent.

The collection is full of silhouettes and some are even new to the house but some are quite awkward as the high low hem with straight across edges, the flounced full legged pant which appears far too many times considering their oafishness, especially in denim..yikes!,  and the keyhole cotton shirt which seems to be at odds with itself and pairings.  There is repetition of shapes that have become part of the brand vocabulary since they took over but the palette is overridingly and overbearingly too moody and too particular for a Spring season.

Complicating my emotions concerning the collection is the almost omnipresent mantra about how the collection is younger than the eponymous collection but I increasingly fail to see it.  For me it is distinctly funereal in presentation, coloration and design.  So somber!  I fail to see any youthful or playful facets here.

The obvious folkloric inspirations/references are a bit over the top when compounded with the fringe and lace and the almost archangel hair ware... this is not my cup of tea at all.  I can only appreciate these clothes, with very rare exceptions, as beautiful pieces of technical accomplishments as well as the previously stated exquisite finished product... as a product only on a visual level!  Paging Frida Kahlo!!

On a fashion level, not so much.

Chanel .. Spring .. 2014 .. Paris Collections

What does one say when one sees brilliance? Okay, I know M.Russell may not agree, but, Karl is just astounding.  This is a man who literally revived the dead horse and still kept its house codes and DNA.  Please take a minute to wrap your head around that given the disasters we have seen at Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Dior, Balenciaga and oodles more.

Mr. Lagerfeld manages to manipulate Chanel in ways that are unimaginable to us mere mortals but then again that is why he is THE rock star of designers.  The “pets” of the media are such amateurs when compared to the Kaiser.  He laughs at them all and rightfully so!

While the “kids” are trying to figure out how to put their imprimatur on collections with fabled names, Karl marches on and still does it better than 90% of what’s out there.  He really stands alone at the top of the heap and seemingly with great ease.  Think about that he can produce more collections in one season and do them successfully than any 5 of the little “darlings.”

When flummoxed by the exasperating hideousness of a collection, my stock line is “rather than blather on about it,” but today I will say it because there is too much to point out in its favor!  90… count them... 90 exits … wildly excessive and uplifting!  Are they are amazing? Not even close, but the entire picture is that Karl is in command and he steers this ship to paradise more times than not.  No, not everything is sublimely beautiful nor does it all work on an esthetic level BUT this is Chanel massaged until there’s a happy ending... if you catch my drift.

Yes, Kiddies, this is an object lesson in how to do it right and how to ‘speak” to your customers.  This is why the Wertheimers are worth 20 billion dollars… literally!

PS.. the cashmere waist/neck sweater ties are destined to stampede out of the stores as are the 2 pearl necks, the plethora of handbag, great bracelets and fingerless gloves .. my take is that they can do more in accessories than most designers can do in full collection!