As Kiran has already pointed out, this blog is in desperate need of a comeback
Kiran's been in the UK studying for her law degree
I've been seriously slacking with no such excuses (in fact, I probably blogged more WHEN I was studying for my masters. Alas.)
I think the serious drought can be attributed, partially, to the fact that I've since relocated to a town where couture is actually defined by how much a) Carhartt gear and b) real-tree camo a person is wearing. Gross. It also doesn't help that in the past year I've become a fitness fanatic and can often be spotted wearing Reeboks and well-structured hoodies. Don't worry about me though--I'm ashamed enough for the both of us.
This morning, however, I was perusing Glamour's online fashion and beauty blogs. It made me realize how much I really MISS picking up a new fashion magazine and poring over it. I've been cheating on newsprint with Pinterest. Still, in the vein of online fashion finds, today I discovered (and it probably isn't an amazing discovery, maybe everyone knew about this gem except ME), the ChicFeed app for my iPhone. With each swipe of the finger, I can see a new street style photo from different fashion blogs around the interwebs. I was pretty entertained while not actually doing real work while at work (time theft is pretty much my bread and butter.)
So, if you haven't already heard of ChicFeed, you can check out their site here, which gives links to some pretty swanky blogs (hello Sartorlist, I've loved you for so long.) You can also download the app and waste away hours and hours at work while getting paid to do nothing. Like I do.
So, it's good to be back, and hopefully Kiran and I can be good little bloggers and make something happen.
**NOTE: I am aware Carla has done a piece on Zoe already (see here). But we have differing-ish opinions. So here we go....***
Over the years, our culture has shifted away from the 'celebritizing' of supermodels (refer to the heyday of the 1990s and prominence of Turlington, Brinkley, and Campbell) and turned towards the sculpting of our actors and singers into new fashion icons. Noticeably, nearly all the covers of prominent mags now feature these stars, as opposed to the models that once graced the pages and adverts inside.
People like Jessica Simpson, P. Diddy, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West and Rachel Zoe have taken their celebrity status a step further, and actually begun designing.
I'd like to talk about Rachel Zoe. Yes, she has an advantage--already being a part of the fashion industry--but her job was always to pull looks together, not to construct them from nothing.
My love for her is illogical to say the least. I wish I could sit her down and feed her bagels until the bones were no longer visible through her leathery, orange skin. But once I began watching her show The Rachel Zoe Project, I was hooked.
For a girl that loves clothes, designers and accessories as much as I do, this show is equivalent to porn. Zoe has a studio full of haute couture, bags and shoes and gets to play dress up not only with the A-list clientele that she styles, but herself. She rubs elbows with the best designers in the industry, and sits front row at every major fashion show in New York and Paris. The last episode I watched featured Prabal Gurung, Michael Kors, and Oscar de la Renta. Drool.
The show is now in its fifth season and the stylist has come full circle in her fashion journey and turned towards designing.
Although nothing in her collections has been innovative or daring, the clothing is made for a chic woman looking for wearability. It is young and cool...a successful venture in the foray of fashion. While others are still putting cork wedges on their runways (*cough Jessica Simpson cough*), Zoe has managed to translate her fashionista sensibilities into a successful multi-million dollar business venture. As Zoe would say, that's pretty 'maj'.
Check out Zoe's latest offerings for Fall/Winter 2013: F/W 2013
I realize that Carla, being the tech-savvy one that she is, prefers tumblr to our old literary stomping grounds of blogger.com. BUT I am a terrible nostalgic and have old woman tendencies, so I think that, like our dear departed Heath, I must accept that I just can't quit you blog.
Back to business.
I have to say, I absolutely love when fashion and affordability collide into the perfect sundress, or a pair of sunglasses that scream $400 but really say $15. The recent trend of high fashion designers allowing themselves to mingle with us ordinary folk is one that I am wholeheartedly behind. The latest visionary to follow suit where Versace and Vera have already gone before is Jason Wu, a red carpet fave who makes women feel like women with his creations. He has put together an amazing line for Target, which is available THIS SUNDAY, Feb. 5th. Mark it in those calenders ladies. And the best part?! Not a single item is over $59.99. View the entire lookbook here.
One of the cool things about getting paid to write fashion blogs is, well, getting paid. And seeing my name on someone else's website AND knowing that at (probably) more than 2-3 people will read what I write.One of the cool things about having my own blog (that I share with the lovely Kiran) is being able to write what I want. Even if it's a little depressing.
Upon the arrival of the Nazis in Paris in 1940, Jewish hat designer Fanny Berger was forced to sell her business to an “aryan." She evaded arrest until September 1942. She spent 9 months at an internment camp at Beaune-la-Rolande before traveling to Drancy and finally to Auschwitz. She was killed upon arrival in July 1943. She was 42 years old. Even more tragic is the fact that Berger was estranged from her family prior to her death because they did not approve of her independent lifestyle and career choices.
Very little information on Berger is available other than a 2008 documentary made by her niece, entitled "Murder of a Hatmaker." Indeed, only a few photographs remain as visual proof that this woman ever existed.
"Some of these details are related in a chillingly detached account by two French archivists, who, as the official custodians of the Vichy regime's census data and Nazi records, bear the burden of history with a disdain that seems equally directed at the Jews as the Nazi occupiers. It is an attitude that provides the subtext for much of what unfolds in the film, including the bizarrely self-reproaching admission of an elderly aristocratic acquaintance of Odette's, who claims he has no recollection of serving as a witness to the mandatory sale of her business to a gentile 'Aryanized' hatmaker, because, as he says, 'to send a person to her death, I think I would remember.' "
What's more than tragic, or depressing, is the infuriating fact that so little remains of this particular member of the Parisian fashion industry. Coco Chanel slept with a Nazi and a bottle of her perfume is sold every thirty seconds. Fanny Berger committed the crime of being born Jewish, and we've all but forgotten her. Sometimes depressing is necessary.
I've still be thinking (perhaps too much) about this concept of people designing under the names of someone else. I neglected to mention in my last post how this can sometimes go shockingly right instead of dismally wrong (or artistically into left-field.)
In the case of Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, the act of taking over a name and continuing to design under it has gone as smoothly as Burton could have dreamed. But what's interesting about her takeover after the death of McQueen is how much she has been able to adhere to his previous aesthetic. This, I believe, is the key. There is no point is carrying on a fashion name when the new designer creates clothes that have nothing to do with the clothes that made that name famous. That's not to say that designers are without artistic license-- the very point of art is to innovate, but if that's the case, why not (as I mentioned previously) just start designing under your own name instead? Of course, this is much easier said that done, especially when a name like John Galliano carries the weight that it does.
At the same time, does this mean that Burton is resigned to design collection after collection that looks just as McQueen's last works did? No. Her work has moved in new directions, but what she has held onto is that eerie elegance, the evidence of a haunted genius that permeated McQueen's work. Not a problem, the pair worked together for over a decade before Lee's suicide. And, its pretty important to point out that this is only Burtons THIRD stand-alone collection. With the genius she displays, it seems like there have been many, many more before this. So why am I quick to dismiss Gaytten's work for Galliano but embrace Burton's work for McQueen? Because Burton's work oooozes McQueen, while Gaytten's work could be anybody for any name, but it's not necessarily Galliano. (Cue Enid telling Carrie "This isn't VOGUE!")
Burton described the line as "a collection about excess--an exploration of ideals beauty at their most extreme." McQueen's official twitter described the line as "hyper-feminitity." It's as though Burton has explored the boundaries of femininity to test how far it can go, how it can be emphasized. It makes use of feather and bird motifs as well as the ocean, sea shells, anemones, (the entire underwater theme is explored expertly by Vogue's review.) This mingling of the strange with the ordinary creates looks that are haunting and mysterious in their effortless beauty. It's pointless to fit McQueen (really, ever) in with the other trends of Spring. It isn't like anything else.
The Spring John Galliano collection differed from past lines when it was presented in Paris today. It was far less over the top than we might expect from a Galliano show, but the main departure was due to the fact that this this was the first John Galliano show with someone other than the brand's namesake at the helm. Bill Gaytten, who stepped in for Galliano when he was ousted at Dior and Galliano after his antisemitic tirade earlier this year. Dior has since been in the talks to find a new creative director (perhaps even Marc Jacobs) while the Galliano house seems to be sticking with Gaytten (despite a few less than savoury reviews.)
It's difficult to help but wonder, in a line named for Galliano, can anyone do what John does? We've already mused the inherent problems of his genius when mingled with the fact that his actions have been, frankly, intolerable. But when we view art, and we know its been created by someone other than the man we've all lauded as a genius, can we still take it seriously? In a tangible sense, reviewers have noted that Gaytten's collections are simply not as outrageous as Galliano's, and that lack of ballsy genius is what makes them so much less exciting. Wall Street Journal blogger Christina Passariello muses that the less-than-lengthy legacy of Galliano's own brand (vs. Dior) allows Gaytten to branch out from what designers (in this case, Galliano) have done in the past.
When viewing Gaytten's work, I almost find myself prejudicially dismissing it, because I know it's "not Galliano." That doesn't mean it's not good, but why, then, does the Galliano brand not just end with the demise of the shamed designer's career? Why doesn't Gaytten just strike out on his own, especially now that he must know he will never fill Galliano's shoes the way we want him to? In fact, it seems to me that Gaytten would garner more positive attention designing under his own name, because that "Galliano"-sized expectation would not exist. Indeed, it's not as though the two are strangers: Gaytten has been working with Galliano since his Givenchy days. And, obviously, there are millions of dollars to be made in Galliano's name, which is a shame, because this is not how art should work.
Looking back at the designer brands that have survived from the early to mid 20th century, when international trade and fashion were flourishing, we still see names like Balmain, Rochas, Nina Ricci, Lanvin, Chanel and Christian Dior. But how many of the current creative directors of these companies design along the lines of the original Parisian creators? When Theyskin's took over the revived Rochas, he might not have known that Marcel himself was a reputed anti-semite, but what's more important is that articles discussing this revival said nothing about Rochas' original aesthetic and why that might be important to Theyskins (hence absolving him for overlooking Rochas' ideological shortcomings.) Sure, Olivier Rousteing is lauded for being a 25 year old design prodigy recently taking the reigns of Balmain, but what do his (albeit gorgeous) designs have to do with Pierre himself?
Does it matter what designers create in the name of someone else? Does the name stand for an aesthetic, or is it like fashion, changing with each day and season? Is it just about money? Is it as much an art form as we would like to argue or believe? Unfortunately for Gaytten, stepping away from John Galliano the brand, the name, and the man might be a bigger challenge than he can handle.
This morning, my mum dismissively commented, "ugh, '80s shoulder-pads are back." I replied, "Mum, check out thisss collection," and pulled up the slides from Haider Ackermann Spring/Summer 2012. She wasn't impressed. She told me to Google "Dynasty" and that'd show me the REAL 1980s. I still haven't bothered Googling. I watched Degrassi Jr High. I know what's up. The problem is, looking at legitimate 1980s clothing in its natural habitat--I can't tell who actually is supposed to look good and who isn't. However, 1980's inspired clothing lines work much better for me.
Ackermann's latest collection in a string of warm critic responses presents saturated colourful silks, chiffons, and shears. Ackermann's use of menswear inspired lines is explained by the thought of women who steal their clothes from their lovers and apply those lines to make an outfit that's effortlessly chic. Along for the ride are slouchy pants and scarves, oversized garments and boxy tops. Still, the styling works, translating into 41 incredibly fierce looks.
One of my favourite bits of university research has been reading snippets of Pierre Balmain's autobiography My Years and Seasons. Balmain wrote about designing through the Occupation, working for Lucien Lelong and meeting another budding designer, Christian Dior. He talked about how they would hang out with Christobal Balenciaga and how he eventually decided to create his own fashion house. Balmain and Dior worked together at Lucien Lelong, and during Balmain's going away party, Dior had to leave because he was so upset. Nearly 70 years later, the House of Balmain is still going strong.
I feel as though I've said this a few times but Olivier Rousteing's Spring 2012 collection might be one of my favourite collections of the season. It was only April of this year that the 25 year old Rousteing was named designer at Balmain, replacing Christophe Decarnin. At this young age, Rousteing already had 5 years experience at Roberto Cavalli under his belt (as well as 2 years working under Decarnin.) Among others, New York Times magazine demonstrate some apprehension as to whether Rousteing would experience as much success has Decarnin has done as head designer at Balmain, but this Spring collection shows that Rousteing has the talent and the guts to pull off a well-tailored and ambitiously adorned line of women's clothing.
At the same time, Rousteing isn't taking any huge steps away from Decarnin's previous aesthetic. Both are masters of cutting a fierce jacket, have a propensity for edgy rocker style, and Rousteing seems to be carrying on the smatterings of gold that Decarnin's made use of for a few seasons. (We all remember that infamous gold bathing suit that made covers on at least 3 international women's fashion magazines, yes?)
Rather than give into the omnipresent colour and floral trends popping up all over spring runways, Rousteing seems to have instead opted to display a number of different textures and techniques. His work demonstrates an amazing amount of detail, rich use of gold, minimalist yet elegant use of blacks and whites, and even denim and quilting. Decarnin and Rousteing's Balmain lines have often been described as "rock and roll," but for some reason, both seem to have the ability to make rock and roll look effortlessly rich and put together.
It was incredibly difficult to choose favourites, but here they are: