Friday, March 13, 2015

on reviewing fashion

In late 2013 the press announcement read.. The New York Times lost one of its most recognized and dishy style reporters this year when ….. Announced his decampment to InStyle/ .. where he'll become the magazine's first-ever fashion news director

Her bio reads… Executive Editor …. was so clothes-obsessed in high school she kept a calendar of her outfits and refused to repeat a look more than once a month.
art by Bil Donovan 

One might think that these 2 who are quite accomplished at their jobs, or are supposedly so and would refrain from “borrowing” specific verbiage from other writers who are so called less accomplished and less well read. Firstly, I would like to say that it must be difficult for HER to write about fashion given her so called bio reads like a  high school groupie obsessed with clothes and secondly, I guess HE is not so dishy or bitchy as the world might think . Between the 2 one really has to question HER credentials.

Having penned more than 1000 fashion related articles, close to 200 fashion based book reviews and countless fashion based freelance articles and interviews, one develops one’s own lexicon of fashion terminology. For me, some of it is laced with humor and some if is laced with acerbic wit or just downright bitchiness. The important issue is that I have made these words instantly recognizable to my readers as being distinctly related to me.

Let’s take, for example, my use of the “blah blah blah of fashion” which is used to describe those designers and their output who seem to think that their arcane inspirations and esoteric knowledge matter when it comes to selling clothes (Raffie, Nicky G,Miuccia)… does that sound about right Eric? Then there is this minor little word that doesn’t appear in spell check unless you have included it in your“dictionary” and that would be “monastic” as it apparently is a word that I coined when describing various and mostly Valentino collections ... isn’t that right Nicky? She seems to use my phrases more often than he , generally excerpted directly from my pieces. So my question is .. if your job is too difficult and you feel the need to “borrow” ..  and you think no would mind … yes .. well… SOMEONE does and someone will notice! And BTW readers report these types of transgressions

It’s bad enough that writing reviews usually evokes a great amount of emotion on the part of the reader especially when he or she doesn’t agree with the writer, but to have one’s (author’s) words literally taken out of their mouths ... Literally! …is beyond the pale! I am not a ventriloquist or ghost writer!

PS maybe you would like to help yourself to Donatellamommamia, Pradapuss, Ricky Ticky, Raffie or Nicky G…..

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton fall 2015

Here’s the mindset”: The Owl and the Pussycat (Streisand), Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Loren), The Night Porter (Rampling) and then McQueen, Galliano, Tisci, Lacroix and La Perla! Put it all together and whaddya got …. ???

Sarah Burton once again paid faithful homage to her friend Alexander McQueen, but this time she leaned on the side of commercially beautiful and comprehensible without losing any of the DNA. This is a task that where so many would fail but none are as familiar with the codes of the house as she. What struck me first were the fabrications which were glorious; from the black on black cellophane brocades to the eye lash brocades to the most fragile of lace and then all balanced with embossed leathers, bonded leathers and patent leather.

The razor sharp tailoring of McQueen was front and center as the selection of coats and jackets, specifically 2 blush brocade pieces, were a never ending source of beauty of exhibition of craft. The rigidity of the tailoring balances with the softness of most dresses made for a collection that captured the spirit and essence of the man and his brand. Of course the leather pieces are as amazing as ever as no one crafts skins as this house and with the greatest of ease and endless possibilities.

Of, course there had to be some extraordinary pieces and yes there were!  The “ode to a rose” pieces rivaled pieces from any great Haute Couture collection and the leathers that incorporated the flower in the hems were nothing short of astounding feats of technique and abilities. The last series of gowns was very beautiful but I keep going back to the coats, the tailoring, and those rose pieces.

Romantic? ... Yes… very McQueen? Yes ... Commercial? … Well as commercial as McQueen could ever be… so, Thank You Sarah Burton for a bright spot in the Paris collections and for being so loyal to your friend who lives on through you!

PS it really does help when the viewer is not distracted by the theatrics of fright make up and shoes that defy physical capabilities!

Chanel Fall 2015

I'm wild again
Beguiled again
A simpering, whimpering child again
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered, am I

Corny but true. There are so very few moments when one can actually be gob smacked by a collection... oh, in a good way... but how can anyone really say that this was not amazing just in its breadth alone! What is so out of the ordinary here is that there are no rules for Karl and Chanel. Together they do as they please, they laugh at the likes of the newbies, they do not have the word edit in their heads, and most of all they KNOW that this is a business of selling clothes and boy oh boy there will be vigils set up outside Chanel stores starting soon enough.

Before I ooze on about this, in a rare moment of abandon, the setting needs to be discussed, Brasserie Gabrielle... you just have to love it and even better is that it just made sense. This is an urbane and big city collection that reminds those us who can still recall ... ladies who dressed for lunch and ladies who wore suits and when designers showed collections that actually looked like the season they were showing. Retro?? Not at all, but jeez Louise, this was the international tweed festival.

So with all that being said, there were jackets/suits /coats/ dresses galore … from the classics to the Chanel parka to the Comme des Chanel puffer. There were signature Chanel looks to beat the band and it just wouldn’t be Chanel if there were not the most outrageous of styles that some rabid fan will scoop up and wait for their photo op while wearing it. What is interesting is that even Chanel has offered less evening wear and concentrated more on day clothes which will no doubt prove to be one of the reasons why the season will be a resounding success. There are amazing items, incredible fabrications and even some literal translations of what was like the cap toe sling back which will have waiting lists for months after this and their handbag business will be on fire. Not lot of jewelry was used or really any other stylized gimmicks. The mood was the “restaurant” and its habitués.

All things aside, maybe it is my own nostalgia that fuels my enthusiasm, but I firmly believe that the world of so called designer women’s fashion is not only inhabited by the likes of the Saint Laurent gal or the Dior client or the Gucci nerd. If there is anyone who can genuinely turn the tide and course it is Karl. He is far more powerful than any of the others, singularly or collectively, and everyone knows it. Say what you will, the proof remains that Chanel sells while the others languish on racks and when so many other designers rely on other categories rather than clothes to “make their numbers’ Chanel sells across the board!

So yes, the collection will either be a source of adulation, adoration or of scorn... your call... you know what I think without really taking it apart. Hail to the Kaiser!!

PS you really need to see the collection it its entirety…..

Valentino fall 2015

Let me get this off my chest now... why is it so great to have the Zoolander guys on the runway? Do they have anything association to the house? Was this a men’s show? It evades me and makes me think how much money changed hands to get them on that runway? (Thank you RK for planting that seed)

Okay now that the important stuff is out of the way let’s get to the collection. Apparently there is a memo going around that says you guys need to make/design clothes that are wearable... given the proper situation both socially and financially. The latter in this case is primo as the clothes have now become aspirational to so many and affordable for so few. Oops!! Here I am talking dirty again! Well the clothes are now as close to couture as possible and their selling prices are reflective of the extreme workmanship that goes into them. My question is how can they say that the audience is growing when the clothes are now from mid-4  figures to around $15,000USD… seems odd but the price tags can certainly elevate the sales numbers.. Let alone the shoes and bags! Okay enough dirty talk... back to the clothes

The overall appearance is surely less monsastic and less artsy craftsy than the last few seasons and there were some extraordinary stripe laced pieces which are pieced together in the most delicate of ways. They are hugely beautiful and am quite sure they are hugely in the 5 figure category. There are some sold crepe pieces in black and white which seem to be somewhat commercial... not Macy’s commercial but couture-ish commercial.  Love them?? Not so much. And then the last third of the presentation it is back to the exceptional techniques and workmanship that have become part of what Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have incorporated into the DNA of the present day Valentino. There are pieces that are beyond description and then there are pieces that just puzzle me no matter what it took to make them. Nope... I have no clue what to say about the opening checker board pieces other than stalemate!

No matter ... me thinks the collection is a lot more palatable than it has been and will attract more of those ladies who can afford the price of this kind of beauty!