Thursday, July 21, 2011

Clothes Before Hoes

The great thing about boys is dressing them. I lovelovelove when a guy agrees to let me pick out some clothes for him to try on (bonus is when they actually purchase said clothes.) It must be engrained in girls, stemming back from our paper dolls days, but there is something about the male body that begs to be dressed and dressed well.

Hence, I was very excited today when I stumbled upon a super-wicked male fashion blog called Clothes Before Hoes. It gives news on style, culture, art and entertainment and is run by two dudes. Although their content is for the dudes, there is certainly nothing wrong with doing a little window-shopping trendswise as I lie in wait for my next guy friend to agree to go shopping with me.

If you don't have time to check out the blog, you can also hit these dudes up on Twitter.

So much love.

Posted by: Carla


Fashionistas living off of ramen noodles rejoice. Alexander McQueen is set to release a collection of pencils (yes, pencils) based on McQueen's Savage Beauty motif. The pack of 12 will set you back about $50, but really, that's nothing compared to the $1200+ you might expect to pay for, say, a pair of shoes. Not too shabby to say you own an authentic McQueen.

Posted by: Carla

SJP: It Woman

I feel weird calling Sarah Jessica Parker an It-Girl. She's the woman that It-Girls look up to. I feel as though, in many ways, she's the ultimate fashionista that we all look up to. I certainly have a photo of her on my wall. This is strange because every time I obsessively re-watch all six seasons (and 2 films) of Sex and the City "I can't help but wonder" why some of her outfits are so hideous.

But, really, the hottest feature of what people wear is how they wear it. You never see Carrie Bradshaw walking down the street without completely OWNING her outfit, and the same goes for SJP. Its neither woman's fault that in 1997, I was only ten years old and was probably wearing some truly atrocious concoctions. I thought my blue leopard petal pushers were fabulous.

It should also be mentioned that Parker covers the August issue of Vogue, her sixth cover with the magazine. I think this is a well deserved achievement for SJP, mother of amazing fashion and even better and fiercer attitude.

Posted by: Carla 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Emma Watson: It Girl (AGAIN)

I've been trying to avoid talking about Emma Watson and her (amazing) Bottega Vaneta gown. She wore it days ago. It's no longer newsworthy. But still. I feel as though its a very love it or hate it look.

I'm on team "love it." Girlfriend looks fucking fierce. Thoughts?

Posted by: Carla 

Tommy Ton Street Style

As a (wannabe) fashion photographer, there is little I love more than street style (that should have been made obvious by the ridiculous pre-amble to my last post.)

So, I will make this one short and sweet. Check out your boyfriend and mine, Tommy Ton's, newest street style pics, straight from the Motherland. (Russia, duh.)

So much love.

Posted by: Carla

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Go to the record store, and visit your friends

Mikhail Baryshnikov (actually it was him playing Aleksandr Petrovsky, my all-time least favourite of Carrie Bradshaw's boyfriends) once said that Paris is the most magnificent city in the world.

He was right.

I've spent collectively perhaps 12 hours walking around Paris--Christian Dior once said the only wartime deprivation he didn't mind was the lack of fuel, because it meant people began to stroll around the city. It was like walking on a cloud. And I don't say this from the perspective of a wide-eyed Canadian girl who "loves" fashion. It was more than that. Being in a city like Paris reminds you that you will never hope to know all the legends who've walked those streets. Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior used to design in Paris together for Lucien Lelong and then they'd go spend time at Balenciaga's apartment. It was in paris that Chanel insisted on living throughout the occupation, to keep one eye on her #31 Rue Cambon boutique and another on a handsome German officer. Louis XIV visited Paris only a handful of times during his entire reign, but Margeret de Valois and Henry de Navarre were married there, at Notre Dame in 1572. It was a wedding that helped spark the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre. Mary, Queen of Scots was married in the same cathedral to Francis II. Paris is also where Napoleon I held his coronation, where he (and Jim Morrison) have been laid to rest, and where Hemingway liked to chill.  Gertrud Stein called it, simply, her hometown.

When the Nazis invaded and occupied the city, they planned not to squash Parisian culture, but to co-opt it. They wanted not to feel inferior to Paris but to call it their own. Oddly enough, I got to stand in the same spot as Hitler stood for his famous photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. For better or worse, this is a city full of history, culture, beauty and tragedy.

This long pre-amble is essentially my way of saying that since leaving France, I've experienced a huge jones for this city. The friends I went with were slightly less impressed (what can you expect from a group of 25 year old [straight] guys?) But I couldn't move past the fact that Paris is so old, and like a person, its lived a beautiful, long, complicated and often haunted life. Its cobblestones hold a million stories of the famous people who've walked along them, as well as those unknown people who call Paris home.

To aid both my Paris-jonesing and my poor French, I've been checking out a pretty great blog on Parisian street style. Thankfully, it isn't all always in French, but it has some pretty great street style shots (reasons we love Tommy Ton!) and if you look close enough (past the fabulous clothes) you can see tiny snippets of my favourite city.  So, Style and the City is pretty worth checking out, but then again, so is the real thing.

Posted by: Carla

Learning is Cool

I've spent the past few months studying fashion history (which is essentially the merging of two of my favourite things.) I wrote a paper on fashion in New York during the Second World War, and learned that it was because of the war that designers in New York finally got notoriety for their work and, for the first time, they were able to design clothes without having to depend on Parisian trends.

This semester I'm writing about the collaboration of French fashion designers in Paris during the Second World War. One thing I learned is that in the 1920s Coco Chanel signed a contract that had two investors, Jewish brothers named Wertheimer, pay into her perfume company, but it soon transpired that they made a lot of money off of the sales of Chanel No. 5.  When the Nazis occupied Paris in 1940, Chanel took advantage of the anti-Jewish laws and attempted to retake her company from the Wertheimer brothers. She didn't succeed, however, because the Wertheimers relinquished their shares to an "aryan," Felix Amiot.

More than this, however, I've recently learned that despite Chanel's less than honourable dealings with those she believed screwed her out of her own perfume company, she also had an affair with a Nazi named Hans Gunther von Dincklage (actually, this I had read before) but, none of this really mattered. Chanel closed the doors of her salon during the war, believing that no one would be selling couture during the war (they did) but the sales of Chanel No.5 continued to thrive. When the Nazis first occupied Paris, German soldiers lined up outside of the #31 Rue Cambon boutique to buy a bottle of the famous fragrance. When the stock sold out, they simply bought display bottles to have something to send home to their wives and girlfriends as souvenirs from Paris.

When the Allies retook Paris after the D-Day landings, American GIs took their turn to line up outside #31 Rue Cambon to buy Chanel No. 5 for their wives and girlfriends. Chanel's wartime lover was forced to retreat back to Berlin and, having lost touch with him, Chanel allegedly paid a German-speaking American GI with a duffel-bag full of Chanel No. 5 in exchange for the promise that if he heard anything of a von Dincklage or happened to come across the man in a camp he'd have him write Chanel a postcard. With a bag full of perfume, the GI essentially carried a fortune around with him--he could buy nearly anything on the black market with this unlikely currency.

So, despite her wartime dealings, Chanel's brand became bigger than she was. She put herself into exhile in Switzerland until 1952 and was not greatly loved when she returned to Paris, but her brand sold well all around the world. Chanel meant more than just Coco.

The questions I'm looking at with my current essay include first, what constitutes collaboration? Does Chanel sleeping with a German mean she collaborated? Did Lucien Lelong holding meetings with Nazis in order to keep the Parisian fashion industry in Paris rather than allowing it to be moved to Berlin mean he collaborated? Did Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior (allegedly) crafting gowns for the wives of Nazis mean they collaborated? I don't know. It's hard to say what we might do in those situations and there are a lot of factors to be considered.

Perhaps even more interestingly, this also speaks to the memory of the war. Do we judge Chanel more because she actually slept with the enemy, and do we judge women differently than men? In the context of the Second World War, women who slept with Germans were paraded through the streets having had their heads shaved and often their clothing taken. They were humiliated or even killed. The French have a difficult time in remembering their wartime experiences because collaboration was so widespread, and when we talk about fashion within that context, it leads to the question of whether we remember people like Chanel or Lelong more because they were famous, or less because collaboration was somewhat common. At what point do we begin to see collaboration from their point of view, within the contexts of their lives?

Anyways, that's what I've been working on lately.

Posted by Carla

Elie Saab Fall Couture 2011

Even the most devoted followers of fashion flip through the slides of couture shows and tell themselves that the garments they don't like are simply pieces of art, and that our opinions of them are subjective. We move onto those pieces that we do like, and our devotion of couturiers remains intact.

This was not the case for my viewing of Elie Saab's 2011 Fall Couture collection. Rather than seeing any looks that I didn't like (but was willing to look past) I would be hard pressed to find a single gown in this collection that was less than amazing. Each gown makes use of light, shear fabrics juxtaposed with Saab's experimentation with texture and embellishment. He makes use of different plunging and more conservative necklines while mixing high leg slits with shorter hems.

Saab's first couture collection was released only 8 years ago in 2003, and his work has become a red-carpet favourite. At the same time, his aesthetic has not differentiated much from previous collections (think Mila Kunis' purple Oscar gown.) This raises the question of whether sticking to a good thing (read: great) is what artists should do, or whether they should try something new.

Either way, this collection is fantastic, and sure to pop up all over red carpets in the near future.

Posted by Carla 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Giambattista Valli Fall Couture 2011

After having designed under his own name for only six years, Giambattista Valli has cracked into the world of couture. He has worked for notable designers in the past--fellow Italian Roberto Capucci and as art director at Emanuel Ungaro, but he broke away to create a solo line only in 2005. From Capucci, he states he learned how to make use of color and volume. The success of Capucci's tutelage is apparent in Valli's couture collection.

Although this line opens with "nice" looks that would be perfectly acceptable in a ready-to-wear collection, Valli slides a few more couture-esque looks into the mix as it progresses. The show ends, however, with about a dozen elaborate gowns--all of which deserve the title of "showstopper," and all of which demonstrate how much Valli deserves to be an oft repeated name during award season. Still, I'm a little hesitant to grant this collection the title of couture--the work remains a little tame, a little lacking in the theatrics we come to expect. 

At the same time, Valli's work shows incredible progress, and as a first couture collection, his is by no means a failure. 

Posted by: Carla 

A new day at Dior: Fall Couture 2011

Bill Gaytten has recently attained the job "a million girls would kill for,"--he's been named the new creative director of Christian Dior, after John Galliano was ousted this spring. The problem with landing what is no doubt  Gaytten's dream job is that he will undoubtedly be compared to Galliano for a long time to come. This appointed did not arise out of nowhere, however. Gaytten and Galliano have worked together for over a decade, and this is evident in Gaytten's Fall Couture 2011collection.

Both Gaytten and Galliano have taken their cues from Dior's own "New Look" silhouette, branching back from Christian's first major collection in 1947. This hourglass silhouette reaffirmed Paris's position as the fashion capital of the world and has continued to make its mark on Dior collections to this day. 

Gaytten's line opens with this look, but he introduces mixed prints, textures and colours. The garments make heavy use of material, sculpted in deep reliefs. At the same time, other looks have a floaty, dreamlike aesthetic. There are bold geometric shapes (especially in the form of headwear) alongside soft pastels. There are elements of typical fall colours: warm corals, bright reds and other earth tones. However, we also see deep emeralds and those aforementioned pastels. Basically, this collection is all over the map in terms of colour and texture.

Not unlike a typical Galliano show, Gaytten's Couture 2011 has its own theatrics, closing with a number of movement-friendly gowns. This is what we expect from a Dior show, and it looks as though Gaytten, although perhaps lacking the creative genius of Galliano, will be able to pick up and carry the house with success. 

Posted by: Carla