With Fashion's Night Out less than a week away, we're getting excited to see the fall fashions up close and personal. What better place to trend-spot than the September issues of Vogue and Bazaar and the Fall fashion issue of The New York Times' T Magazine? To prepare ourselves, Valerie and I met for brunch on Saturday at Public on Elizabeth Street. Needless to say, Valerie came dressed to the nines, complete with a rubber goldfish and lucite bubble necklace of her own design and a fish bag color-coordinated with her outfit and her T Magazine. [Valerie protests: in this unpredictable weather, I merely came dressed for fun. JEAN came dressed to the nines. The photo does her peaked killer hat no justice at all.] Valerie ordered the coconut pancakes with fresh ricotta, mango salad and ginger-lime syrup while I had the watermelon, feta and basil salad with toasted pumpkin seeds and shichimi. [Valerie interjects: What IS shichimi? It's such a treat for the taste buds.] Delish! And the guava margueritas were divine!
I'm wearing a tissue thin grey long-sleeve cotton top by Lush over a Lillith silk and cotton skirt, vintage straw hat acquired at a flea market and worn back to front (label reads: New York Creation 22) to which I've added a grey felt "mister bones pin" by Meekiyua (www.meekiyua.etsy.com) purchased at a pop-up holiday craft shop last December on the Bowery; black resin Angela Caputi alligator cuff, assorted bakelite and gold rings, Ice Pirates watch, leather and brass neck ring, black coral and brass Kirsten Hawthorne earrings, striped socks from Rite Aid, and black suede strapped platform sandals from Kork-Ease.
Valerie is wearing a Japanese straw hat, a full length shaded linen dress and matching full length jacket by Beitz, five bathtub goldfish with lucite bubbles, and matching goldfish bag by NYCTLT. (People have been asking where to get it, or its hen bag counterpart. Sorry! I don't know! My friend Allan sent it to me from San Francisco.)
As we wandered back to my apartment, we took advantage of this great backdrop for a quick shot. Once chez Jean, we spread out at the dining table and in between visits from the cat, who tried to sit on whatever page we were reading, together we went through all 726 pages of Vogue and 508 pages of Bazaar. We put little stickers on pages that gave us pause - for both positive and negative reasons. Following is the distillation of that experience as we share our reactions.
Now pay attention, kiddies: The fall trends are boots, pantsuits, capes, ponchos, feathers and leathers. Celine's $7,200 leather trench coat is both philosophically and financially out of reach. (Image from www.Style.com.) Camel hair is everywhere, as is fur, and both are on everything from vests, bags, boots and coats, sometimes simultaneously. I confess up front that I am rabidly Anti-Fur. I will therefore restrain myself from commenting more graphically on all of the fur-covered designer handbags. What, is your wallet going to get chilly? I have two words for you: global warming. Chanel is one of several labels that showed huge knee-high fur boots reminiscent of that 1970s apres ski look. Although all of Karl Lagerfeld's furs looked real, I was pleasantly surprised by the specific reference in Vogue on page 626 to very realistic looking trim on a tweed jacket as plush "faux fur".
Michael Kors' collection is the epitome of the camel hair lifestyle. His clientele have caramel-colored highlighted hair and live on the Upper East Side, in Aspen, in Palm Beach and/or Palm Springs. Since I do not, he and I continue to exist in parallel universes.
Shearling coats are also making a big return to the scene. Animal prints are back, especially leopard, on anything (that doesn't move or moves slowly) from purses and scarves to belts and shoes as well as sweaters, coats, skirts and dresses. I confess that I LOVE animal prints and own probably dozens of wool and cotton and fleece articles with leopard, ocelot and cheetah spots as well as tiger and dalmatian prints. (All big cat spots are not alike: Leopard spots are large, hollow circular dark black shapes surrounding a lighter-colored center. Cheetahs and ocelots have smaller, solid black spots.) (Image of Burberry Prorsum shearling and leather jacket from www.Style.com.)
Shoes continue to rule the catwalks! A fuschia pair of these Yves Saint Laurent Palais pumps complete with Mohawk fills a two-page Bazaar spread (pages 452 - 453). At $935, they are absurdly expensive and with 6" heels, they are completely unwearable, but I hate to admit it, the photo is visually arresting. (Image from www.Style.com, my go-to source for photos and reviews of all of the fashion shows.)
I was thrilled to see beautiful Leah C. Couture Millinery cocktail hats in Bazaar's homage to Daisy Fellowes, the 1920s and 1930s society fixture described by Jean Cocteau as having "launched more fashions than any other women in the world". (See pages 413, 415 and 417.) Valerie and I met Leah at the Sculptural Objects and Functional Arts (SOFA) show at the Armory last April and photographed her in one of her creations. To see Leah in one of her designs, go to our 4/16/10 posting of SOFA titled "Samples from our Demographic" and scroll down to the third photo. (Image from otheredition.com.)
Three cheers for Donna Karan who is celebrating 25 years in the business. One of her silver anniverary ads features a model wearing this look -- patent leather hair band, long leather gloves and V-neck sleeveless evening gown - all in solid black. Gorgeous and glamorous! Donna knows her customer - the majority of her 2010 fall collection is black. Reviews of her show last March cited her front row celebrity triple crown: Demi Moore, Susan Sarandon and Brooke Shields. Although neither Bazaar nor Vogue devoted much space to her work, as I scrolled through her collection on www.Style.com, I saw lots of items I really loved. This leads me to believe that there are lots of things out there that would interest me, but they just didn't happen to interest the editors of American Vogue or Bazaar. (Image from Style.com)
We both loved the color-saturated floral-inspired Dior Couture dresses by John Galliano. Headgear by Stephen Jones was designed to look like florists' cellophane wrap. Harpers Bazaar has a wonderful two-page spread on pages 460-461 in which a bevy of models spilled down a stairway wearing the gowns, stiletto heels and impossibly elongated hairdos with Dairy Queen frozen custard-like swirls at the top. Wish we'd been able to download the exact photos from the magazine, but these images from Style.com do capture the blast of color and sky-high coiffures.
Hands down, my favorite ad campaign was Lanvin by Alber Elbaz shot by Steven Meisel. With their slicked back hair, dark rimmed eyes, pale skin and bright red lips, Magdalena Fracowiak, Anja Rubik and Mariacaria Boscons resembled Robert Palmer's famous back up singers. [Valerie interjects: Oh, let's just say it - they STOLE the idea, lock, stock and barrel. But then again, Palmer himself stole the idea from the fashion mags, so what went around is coming around. And after all, it's an eminently theft-worthy concept.] The hard edges and aggressive metal jewely are so eighties. Although I wore that look back then and would not wear it now, I loved this collection - the dresses and the accessories. Both Vogue and Bazaar featured the ads. (Images from style.com.)
Clunker alert! While I adore just about everything Balenciaga designed by Nicolas Ghesquiere, when we saw this look, we both had to ask: What was he thinking? Several of his jackets feature a thick, wide inner tube of fox fur right around the waist. What woman in her right mind wants added bulk around the midriff? It doesn't hide anything and makes even stick thin models look thick-waisted and ungainly. Bad idea, Nic! (Image from Style.com.)
Mad Men alert! Designers, please take note: Just because we like to look at a show on TV does not mean we want to dress just like the characters. (Case in point: I revel in watching the dysfunctional mayhem on "Jersey Shore" [OMG, gasps Valerie. TMI!] but do not wish to emulate ANY of Snookie's sartorial choices.) Likewise, this new Mad Men craze, even when interpreted by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, doesn't translate well and wearing late '50s/early '60s looks can be an iffy proposition, skirting dangerously close to the dreaded Cliffs of Dowdiness.
One doesn't necessarily want to end up looking like a sidekick of Lucy and Ethel in a newly unearthed "I Love Lucy" episode, especially after spending mucho dinero. While there is a shot of this same Louis Vuitton suit dubbed 'the New New Look' in Bazaar (on page381) that makes it look so much more alluring, I fear that if it makes a tall model look short-waisted, it'll make me look like one of Snow White's Seven you-know-whats.
Where's Waldo? Although admittedly, some details may have eluded us in our post-margarita haze, I do not remember seeing any clothing by designers who have their own unique design vision: Yeohlee Tang, Maria Cornejo, Anna Sui, Anne Demeuleemeister, Azzedine Alaia, Gareth Pugh, Norma Kamali, or Vivienne Westwood in either issue. I do remember a Ric Owens skirt as an underlayer and one Yohji Yamamoto photo. It only left me wanting more. At this point in my life and in their careers, I'd rather see more coverage of these designers than Valentino, Oscar de la Renta or Carolina Herrera (no offense). While all the usual suspects coincidentally (?) appear in the ad pages AND in the editorial pages (Gucci, Fendi, Prada, Dolce and Gabbana, MiuMiu, Chanel), and their clothes look beautiful, I'd really like to see more of the minimalists like Francisco Costa's architectural designs for Calvin Klein.
Guilty Pleasure? Cheating? Although these gorgeous turbans are technically from Lanvin's Resort 2011 collection, they are featured (pg 231) in Bazaar's Fashion News item announcing the opening of Lanvin's long-awaited Manhattan boutique on Madison Avenue. Turbans and sunglasses are a combination I find irresistible.
Leave it to Jean Paul Gaultier to provide the necessary frisson! Sharing the page (462) with three other designers (Galliano's Christian Dior, Armani Prive and Valentino) in Bazaar's Couture Report, JPG holds his own and grants no quarter. His jewel-toned evening wear and glorious headgear (twisted in more ways than one) really caught my eye and captured my imagination. Exactly what couture is supposed to do!
Going into this exercise focusing on the two biggest American fashion magazines, I really thought Vogue would be the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, and not just based on its extra 218 pages. But, after I looked over my comments and photo selections, Bazaar's issue had more influence on me. It spoke to me more often and more forcefully. In future postings, I'd like to explore designers whose work really affects me and where and how they get explosure.
Although I wanted the magazines to show fashions that would challenge our concepts about silhouette and/or gender and/or proportion, I chalk up their presentation of so many examples of safe, classic looks to the current state of the economy and pray for a recovery sooner rather than later. Not all of us want to look like Grace Kelly or January Jones or one of the Gossip Girls. And those Fabulous at Every Age articles: Puhleeze. I read them every month and have never seen anything I wanted to be seen in let alone purchase. [Valerie chimes in: Don't get me started on Fab at Every Age. Fab at every age if you have a personal trainer, publicist, make-up artist and hair stylist, a job with oodles of free time between spates of work, and an expendable income that exceeds the tax revenues of many towns in America.]
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Well, despite our high profile in the fashion world, we were inexplicably not invited to any of the runway shows this year, so we’re forced to give you our opinion based on what we saw in the magazines. But it's all good - we didn't have to stand on any lines, take any bad seats at the back, or wait hours for any shows to begin. [Jean says: Methinks the lady doth protest too much. If anyone wants to give us free passes to any of the shows at NY's upcoming fashion week, don't worry, they would be graciously accepted!]
Jean noted a number of new trends, but I was blind to most of them. Passing through H&M the other day, I noticed that animal prints are HUGE, as Jean said, but that escaped me in the magazines. And, importantly, I didn’t notice any NEW trends. To me, everything was just a rehash of something else - with the exception of the big gapped tooth look, which really is a completely new trend. Hudson Jeans (who ever heard of them before they snagged a big gap-toothed spokesminx?), Miu Miu, ck by Calvin Klein and Dior are just some of the brands using the 21st century’s version of Chaucer’s bawdy wife of Bath to flog stuff that we otherwise wouldn’t pay much attention to. [Jean says: Finally, the Big Gapped Teeth link is revealed! With Georgia May Jagger as your model, who's actually looking at her teeth?]
ck’s Lara Stone is the counter-Brooke Shields for the 21st century.
But if there aren’t any significant new trends, isn’t that something to be grateful for in this lugubrious economy? How could we possibly pay for all the things we’d want?
I gave myself the assignment of choosing only one item that I really, really wanted from each of T, Vogue and Bazaar, and looked forward to winnowing out numerous scrumptious also-rans. As it was, I found nothing at all to winnow out in Vogue.
My favorite item from Bazaar was this wonderful pink costume, something I doubt I’d ever have the opportunity to wear. In the magazine it's a far more vibrant pink, and the fluffy, fuzzy mohair fiber shows up better there than it does here. But trust me - it's like wearable cotton candy! What fun! I'd have to wear it over something else, of course, but so what! I loved the wonderful purple confection, too. (See Jean's photos, above.)
From T I loved this Donna Karan blouse, whose marvelous layered collar frames the face so beautifully. To be honest, I can’t imagine this lovely thing standing up so springily after its first washing or dry cleaning, but it is an absolute joy to behold. This would be my one T choice if I had only one. (Please tell me there's a button a few inches higher which is not visible here.) [Jean says: In all fairness, the Donna Karan ad appeared in all 3 magazines, so theoretically, Ms. V found something of interest in all 3. Just because it happens to be the same single item is what we in the judging busines call a "technicality".]
I also coveted these Babette boots shown in T. The black leather looks buttery soft, and has a delicate understated luster to it. The way the boots only lace about half way up is intriguing, as is the slight increase in the volume of the leather where the lacing leaves off. Of course, if it turns out not to be low heeled, I can’t wear it, but I just love the look!
And more shoes still in T. These are designed by Gaetano Pesce for Melissa. (Teaser: shoe fanatics should look for Zaha Hadid’s Melissa shoe. Brazil-based Melissa is doing a lot of interesting things for shoes.) [Jean says: These shoes are a terrific concept: the wearer can customize the cut and the look with a pair of scissors. One could wear them as a full bootie look throughout one season and then trim them down to an oxford look or a low cut slip-on ballerina flat. Way cool.]
In all fairness, some of my disappointment in the 2010 fall line-up may have to do with age and reality. I have most of what I want or need, so I automatically ignored black dresses or pants, anything tight-fitting, and most (but not all!) things that I couldn’t conceivably wear to work. I can't wear see-throughs anymore (sigh...), don’t need any more coats, and generally I find leather apparel too warm and heavy for me now, much as I appreciate its qualities. I think designers have to appeal to me by giving me something I didn’t know I wanted, such as anything I’ve extolled in this post.
That said, however, I was very disheartened by what looks like – shall we say – the LVMHization of the fashion industry. Where were the smaller names? Hardly any Vivienne Westwood at all. Where was Zac Posen? Jason Wu? Issey Miyake? Where were Blayde, Ann Demeulemeester, Rick Owens, Gary Graham [Do I hear an echo? Didn't Jean say the same thing?], and any of the other countless independent designers who pull in less than a gazillion dollars a year? And with all the wonderful shoes out there now, where are United Nude shoes? (See fab photo above, from their website.) So many very good designers were unrepresented or underrepresented. It looks like Vogue and Bazaar now represent conglomerates, and not designers, fashion or trends, (except perhaps trends of their own making).
Jean mentioned the fur trend, which seems so odd, given global warming. I particularly didn’t like the Vulgari ad (oh, sorry – the Bulgari ad) with a nude Julianne Moore flogging a hand bag in the company of lion cubs. Hopefully, she did this so she can use the money to make an exquisite independent film that will take half a year to finish and will only pay scale. I have no trouble with her flaunting her great looks, but I have a problem with the cubs. They should be home with their mother. Why does a stunning nude redhead and acclaimed actress need any props other than what she wakes up with to sell a bag anyway?
And execrable mention to Christian Louboutin, he of the wonderful shoes, for his tasteless coyote fur bag.
Just to see what was out there, I looked at a number of other fashion magazines. This is not, to be sure, the best year for inspiration, but I’d like to share a few things that interested me.
In Gap Press, a Japanese magazine, I found the work of Nao Yagi, whose line is called Mintdesigns. She's a little hard to find on line, but worth the hunt.
British Vogue, which had a generally more upbeat selection, and a big layout on black leather, noted a trend in minimalism that we’re not seeing here in the U.S. There I found this Ter et Bantine piece. The wonderful sculpted leather belt (I’m hoping it’s not crocodile) would be ridiculous on me, but it’s a fabulous design. (French Vogue, not surprisingly, had much more nudity and also showed a lot of sensual black leather.)
Finally, Surface, not even a quarter the size of Vogue or Bazaar, introduced me to Franc Fernandez, who makes very original hats that you should take a look at. Not everyone can – or would want to – wear them, to be sure, but he is new and original, and very interesting. Not surprisingly, he's done work for Lady Gaga.
When an admirer is looking for a way to give the highest possible praise, expressions like "You've outdone yourself this time" and "How can you possibly top this?" are bandied about. So we are eagerly looking forward to next season's fashions and magazines, because it should be easy for many of them to top this.