Friday, December 6, 2019

PRE-FALL 2020... season of words rather than clothes


The newest buzzword for fashion is sustainable. .. sadly  so many of these designers have forsaken the part about selling clothes and prefer to run their mouths on subjects and sound by,tes that will take generations to see fruition instead of designing clothes that might sell. Forget about original ideas as it is much easier to dig back into fashion history and just copy what once was.... after all who will notice when your frame of reference is the last 20 minutes
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“Only those with no memory insist on their originality.”

― Coco Chanel
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Here are some images from some of the most hyped-up collections as well as from collections one has never heard of... Kindly note they are all for the same season and here is some of the bullshit that accompanies the clothes. As I have long ago said,  clothes don’t come with romance cards they hang on a hanger and don’t explain themselves nor the supposed environmental impact they may have other than the offense to the eye. Who cares? Women buy clothes to look pretty or to follow a trend... 
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I defy you to find either here. One more time … pre-fall was never meant to be show worthy, these were supposed to be the clothes that women didn’t think twice about buying for the coming season before the big guns of full-fledged fall hit the rails.

 
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"We need to wear our clothes for longer. It’s the throwaway aspect [of fashion] which is destructive. So the thought process, particularly in women’s, is to have a quieter sense of permanence. And I like the idea that so many of the pieces can be relayered.” 
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“As each brand embraces diversity and inclusion, we can’t neglect the most important factor in our lives: the climate crisis” 
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Designers should be designing clothes and quit worrying about being so politically correct and all-inclusive… nothing worse than faux intellectuals who think they are designers! They need to look at who exactly is their target customer if it even exists!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

CHANEL pre-fall 2020


Well it wasn't exactly earthshattering but it was impeccably undeniably Chanel… complete with Karl clunkers and some rather thick Teutonic looks. The codes and DNA are in place; it was a no-nonsense collection except for  a few transparent pieces  but the most the important thing here is that  these clothes will be gobbled up by the hungry throngs of Chanel clad ladies.
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Yes, it would have been a bit better if some of the girls weren’t so pigeon-toed and that just below the knee length was avoided along with bare midriffs but none of that matters as the shoe is a winner and the handbags and piled on accessories will sate those who collect those categories of the brand. Virginie isn’t deviating far from Karl’s game plan and I guess it’s a case of why fix what’s not broken!
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It was basically clean slick, chic and not exactly pushing the envelope but with over 70 exits, it made its statement… the point being this is Chanel ... take it or leave it… I’m guessing this is a commercial winner that will make cash registers sing!
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Monday, December 2, 2019

the world of LELAND NEFF


Well, here I am sitting at the cool kid’s table again but I’m sitting with Leland Neff this time and this is a man who unintentionally makes you feel that your accomplishments, connections and creativity might be slightly less than you think. Leland is a virtuoso of talents that include everything from fine artist/illustrator to photographer, to advertising consultant, to retoucher (when it was an art form), to real live portraitist, to creative director to equestrian to horse breeder and that’s just part of who he is and who I have the honor of being with today. 
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He is the most soft-spoken of men who has never bragged about his past and his accomplishments, let alone his capabilities and in these times that’s quite a a rarity when this generation seems to think that fame and talent rubs off on you just by having your photo taken with someone. Leland is this incredible smorgasbord of creativity that seems to know no limit and yet you’d never know it from casual conversation or his unpretentious demeanor.

His career trajectory brought him in contact with some of the most famous brands and luminaries from so many walks of life such as dance, theater, movies, retail and beauty. Think Revlon, Sophia Loren, Greta Garbo, Jerome Robbins, Estee Lauder, Bette Midler and the list can keep going but once again his humility is only superseded by his good looks so, yeah I’m a happy camper sitting face to face with him.

So no more blathering on about the how great I think he is; here in his own words is Leland Neff…..


Jeffrey Felner: There aren’t many who can say they have had a succession of illustrious and  noteworthy careers can you speak about them and which one was your favorite and which you might regret and why?

Leland Neff: Ha.  I have had a lot of careers; what is consistent is that they are all about the visual.  As a  Pratt sophomore I advanced to all senior classes and took on three times the workload of the average student except I was a straight A student with 36 credits. 

Pratt started a program called Interarts based on my efforts which gave students the ability to not specify a major until their senior year. Summarizing my early years ….  My first show of equestrian drawings was in grade school, a major gallery show by high school and after graduating from Pratt with the highest honors, a show sponsored by the DuPont’s. 

From Pratt to NYC and was immediately accepted by two top tier agents, asked to be the assistant creative director of Revlon (said no, and began doing cosmetic ads for all the top companies).  I walked up and down Madison Avenue and into galleries without an appointment and rolled out my huge paintings from the Caribbean and was accepted by many but shortly thereafter was my one-man show at a  57th Street gallery.

I literally did thousands of children’s book illustrations, cosmetic ads, book covers and complete books on a variety of subjects.  I illustrated a fashion book that made it to the best sellers list …. Animated a national commercial for Clairol with the amazing director Mary Lambert who went on to direct Madonna’s first videos and Prince’s movies.  Basically, I did advertising drawings for all the major cosmetic companies: Estee Lauder, Revlon, Elizabeth Arden, Clairol, L’ Oreal. 
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I took my drawings to GQ, who immediately gave me a drawing to do and when that drawing came out I was offered a contract with Barneys which was lots of very hard work but the drawings came out on page 4 of the NY Times, Interview, Mademoiselle, NY Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and was recognized for my efforts by Advertising Age Magazine.  The non-compete agreement with Barney’s was that I couldn’t do another store in NYC so… I began doing the Broadway Store cosmetic full page ads which ran all over the country except NYC.  After about 3 years of doing the Barney’s campaign, Paul Stuart and Joseph A. Banks offered me the same space in the NY Times and most of the other magazines at a much better price and without a non-compete.  The door swung open and I did ads for all of them …..  Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Bergdorf’s, Burberry’s, Scandinavian Ski Shop.
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I had already been represented with my drawings by some of the most prestigious photo agents in the world, and had diligently been shooting and working on my portfolio.  My first day in Milan I was booked with L’Uomo Vogue for their magazine Vanity doing a story of drawings and photos.  I took some of my best model friends to the park and shot a series and did drawing and so, briefly I had a transatlantic career where I photographed in Europe and drew in the US.
 My photo work was immediately noticed and I was booked in the US/NYC which I but not by the same art directors or creative directors who had used me for my drawings.  I booked the major catalogs from Bloomingdales and so I rented a daylight studio for the two-week project where a parade of the top male models in the world passed before my lens.
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About the same week I was asked to make an advertising concept proposal for a new designer, Kenneth Cole. In the postcard promotion which was my first work as a photographer using Marc Jacobs clothes, wearing Kenneth Cole shoes, and starring model Victoria Kennedy.  ...  The ads ran and were an instant sensation.
Right off the bat I was booked for the international ads for Swatch Watch which I organized shooting in the Dominican Republic.  Then I was booked shooting Levi’s campaign, Dockers, in San Francisco.

I left the illustration behind and went all over the world with Paris being my home base….  One client would ask me to visually describe my ideas and then they would find a place in the world that corresponded to my vision: Nepal, Tahiti, Patagonia Argentina….
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I was shooting for major magazines and kind of feeling like I needed to draw.  So I made a proposal to a magazine/ newspaper to draw the collections and got it. I was front row center doing drawings for all the major collections. The drawings appeared the next morning in the Parisian newspapers. 
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 I moved back to NYC, but really felt like I’d done those worlds of fashion in drawing and photography and decided to really follow my dream of horses and get back to my painting.  So I made a proposal to Raymond Waites whose wallpapers I’d been doing.  He and especially his wife were great friends so I proposed to stay in their East Hampton home for the 9 months that they weren’t there.  So that got me out to the Hamptons and soon with my own stable of horses, a barn of my own and a connection to the fabulous summer art program The Art Barge.  I showed my work in my own booth at The Hampton Classic, and opened my own gallery in Saratoga.   All of this happening despite many who predicted that I’d be back in NYC within 3 months and that was 20 some years ago.
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I tip my hat to the writer that I’d never met who called Sotheby’s to ask who is the best equestrian artist in America?  Their reply was that I was not only the best equestrian artist in America but the best since Stubbs, and Munnings and comparing my work to paintings that sold for 22 million. 
My life’s real dream has always been to paint landscapes, live in nature with dogs and horses.  Finally with the years adding up I realized it was time to go for the major challenge of fulfilling that dream.
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JF: You came of age during the glory years of NYC; can you relate for us some of the most exciting moments of a life well lived? Anything that might have been life changing for you?
LN: It was the best of times, literally … no joke, I was accepted I think first for my looks then invited in because of my talent.  My nicknames included: BB for Beautiful Boy, the creative director of Revlon said that his best friend was Catherine Deneuve who had the most beautiful woman’s face in the world, and mine was the male equivalent, Click Modeling agency said that I was the best looking guy that they didn’t represent, my agents wanted me to dress to show my body which I refused and only wore custom made baggy clothes.  Navy Blue for my blue eyes, James for Dean, Montgomery … for Clift, were all nicknames.
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It was a whirlwind time and my agents were sort of my social secretaries who would want me to be at major events and dinners but I was really just a loner who worked.  It was an odd dichotomy.  I walked, rode my bike or rollerbladed everywhere to see the sights but to avoid the subway.  All is open in NYC if you allow it to be.  I met and hung out with Greta Garbo; she was very private but we’d talk, hang out in doorways, became friends.  Katherine Hepburn flagged me from her townhouse to meet me.  I’d run into her all over and she’d wave from her bike.  Nureyev, Baryshnikov … Jerome Robbins would follow me when I’d run in the park and told me that I had the best body he’d seen and invited me for Thanksgiving dinner with his wife!  I met Cher, Bette Midler, Lauren Bacall, Richard Gere, Prince Albert of Monaco, Grace Kelly, and Isabella Rossellini.  I went to a book signing of a book by Sophia Loren; ha, I grew up right next to where she did in Pozzuoli, Italy.  Man, did we hit it off!  She asked me to stay next to her to talk more.  Bill Cunningham, the street fashion photographer, would always stop me, called me young fellow, and shoot.

I had private shoots with Gregory Hines for Dance Magazine.  Alvin Ailey … I went in and talked to him for hours, and shot him for hours.  Then he invited me back several times just to talk and it rebounded back and forth the creative energy.
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I was to do a shoot with Brigitte Bardot, running from doing drawings at the fashion shows to photographing Brigitte Bardot and I was running late.  I took the Paris subway after having planned on running home to change but didn’t have the time and I looked down and was wearing suede pants.  I said to myself “Leland, what an idiot!!”  A major animal rights activist and I’m showing up in suede pants.  I didn’t have time to go back and change so I took my coat off and wrapped myself in it and shot her and she never noticed!!

JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why?

LN: First my mom as she was the light, the support, the vision, the dignity, the grace.  I miss that shining light. Her Dad, my grandfather, Mahlon who has truly been my lifetime inspiration.  We spent six months living with him in upstate NY when my father, a naval aviator, was stationed in Naples, Italy.  Mahlon was 6’4’ with the muscular bod of a gymnast in his 70’s; I learned so much from my glorious grandpa. My favorite color teacher, Mary Buckley Parriott; who at one of my openings was speechless for about 15 minutes, an excruciating length of time, and after slowly examining all my work finally said: “in my lifetime I have never seen a living artist with this body of work.”  I’d have to throw in my first boyfriend for comic relief; he is a hoot as he was a native fisherman who at the time could not read or write but sang and danced all day long. His beauty was beyond belief and he could command center stage in any company and bring laughter and joy. One artist that I’m fascinated by his work, have never met, have no idea what he looks like is Nick Knight … I’d love if he showed up.
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JF: What has been your most exciting or rewarding project/collaboration and why? Optional:  and your least exciting or least challenging!
LN: The most rewarding collaboration would be a sweater brand (a Missoni knock off) that I’d describe my vision and they’d find someplace in the world that matched my description.  Magically there would be fun models and the company was very supportive as they enthusiastically believed in my vision.  We went to Tahiti, Nepal, Patagonia, Argentina.  I’d describe: imagine turquoise ice and blue water, flamingos, elephants, Gaugin huts, and we’d be there.
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JF: Lastly, let’s speak of social media: the upside and the downsides of it; do you think it has been a great asset for you or do you think that it has a created a sort of “faux” world of photographers, models and so called influencers?
LN: Um, social media is a new challenge.  My clients are not buying art or booking through social media.  Yet, I’m intrigued to find so much energy, talent and creativity through it.
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