Archive for September, 2009

The Hardy Boy
September 30, 2009

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I was styling a fashion shoot yesterday in a photographer’s backyard in Venice when somebody happened to mention those two little words – “Ed Hardy.”  Suddenly there was a lot of hissing on that particular summer lawn. The healthy disdain of the cool kids didn’t refer to the person Ed Hardy but rather a glitzy and gaudy line of clothes – I feel bad calling them clothes, OK? – that bears the name of a once-revered tattoo artist (a lot about tattoos this week, right?) No, when people out here say Ed Hardy, they really are referring to Christian Audigier, the glitzy and gaudy designer/entrepreneur behind the line – our own little Count of Three-Card-Monte Crystal.

Audigier first made his dubious mark on fashion earlier in this decade by putting seemingly every straight guy looking to get laid in a Von Dutch trucker hat.  And, along the way, a truck-full of celebrities too, in those crazy Justin and Brittany salad days. In fact, he cheerfully takes credit for inventing celebrity marketing and just about everything else that’s happened since, in a devastatingly detailed profile in this month’s GQ that’s worth the price of the entire issue.

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When it came time to re-up, Audigier and the Von Dutch owners had a spat about putting his name on the label too, so off he went and either seduced or swindled Mr. Hardy (there was a lawsuit later) and now Ed Hardy by Christian Audigier is known across the land. His gold-foiled and rhinestone bedecked T-shirts covered in snake-and-skull-and-bleeding-heart tattoo motifs reached critical media mass this summer – for several tabloid weeks running – as the preferred apparel choice of one Jon Gosselin, the runaway “Plus 8” TV dad.

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Then came Michael Jackson’s untimely demise but never more than too timely for Audigier. I was driving home then, past his little cluster of boutiquelets on Melrose and BAM!, on the eerie electronic billboard looming large over the stores, was a gigantic and glowing image of Mssrs. Jackson and Audigier. TOGETHER. I wasn’t sure if it was real or photoshopped (Audigier is so fake-baked that he always looks a little retouched), though in fact Jackson did drop by the 50th birthday bash last year of the man who sports a tattoo across his back that reads, “Christian Audigier Est. 1958.”

Real or not, I didn’t know what to think then and I don’t know what to think now. Neither do the retailers who sell his clothes, who seem embarrassed by him, though they happily share in his $80-million T-shirt and accessory biz. Neither did the GQ writer, who didn’t want to believe that bling-y (there, I said it) vision of fashion goes so deep in American culture. But that’s Audigier’s genius. He doesn’t care what we think.

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Trending: The Lady-stache!
September 29, 2009

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Is it just me or are the ladies having a mustache moment? Saturday I was idly shopping in a candy shop in Long Beach, during a break in shooting, and turned the corner and came across a girly pink set of mustaches, one for every day of the week.  Since I was headed to a party that night and it was the birthday girl’s favorite color, I surrendered (to) the pink.  Well my little novelty was quite a hit eparty_2069_26288700and the other girlguests kind of looked envious. Who knew? ‘Course I only had to think back for a minute to remember comedienne/provocateur Sarah Silverman’s appearance at the Emmy’s recently, and her moment of hirsuit hilarity while Justin Timberlake read her name as a nominee for best comedy lead actress. Poking around Sarah’s website, I found she has a stash of ‘staches – she rocks her fake facial hair in a series of candids taken on-set to hysterically plaintive effect and seems to have made it her itchy identifier.  I’m not a gamblin’ man, but I bet if there’s anyone it’s Ms. Silverman who can make the (hairy) lip stick.

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A Neck of a Time
September 28, 2009

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This photo may seem like a little shameless pandering to male admirers of all sexes out there but is there any better way to bring up the subject of neck tattoos? I was standing in line at California Chicken waiting to order my Primavera Wrap the other day and the woman in front of me was sporting big cartoon-y tattoos all over her body including one that I swear looked just like a big blob on the side of her neck.  Then I ran across pics of the fitness model above who wasn’t content with chest and sleeve adornment and expanded it up the side of his neck too. I’m the first to admit I’m 2385048032_360b78b42aconflicted about tattoos, even large ones – they can be hot – but that day at the cafe I was beginning to feel, shall we say, neck and neck with the creeping signs of old-fogeydom. And I do live in L.A., where there most be more tatted skin than anywhere on the planet, short of some tribal enclaves in Borneo. But, to borrow from judge Nina of Project Runway, I’m afraid I don’t find neck tattoos aesthetically pleasing. Nonetheless, they’ve gone mainstream – a site called eHow.com even gives you seven simple steps to getting a neck tattoo. After noting in passing that they are dubbed “job blockers” and sometimes require a premium for the tattoo artist, the advice ends with step 7: “Be prepared to defend your neck tattoo.” Duh.

But back up a minute, maybe even that admonition is outdated, judging by the number of them around these days. I don’t really care, I guess, that a lot of people don’t worry about getting a job, or going to a funeral or flying in to visit dear old mom without giving her a heart attack just so they can look like a bad-ass, at least in their own mind. Remember past-season designer Jeffrey from the aforementioned 219111722_096c6fa3a5Project Runway, who got a lot of his dirty-rocker-trash-talking-villain-of-the-season cred from his big ole neck tattoo (which sported his son’s name as a kind of motley milestone). But every time I saw him on screen I just thought it was ugly. And a little sad. And maybe that’s why I’ve been obsessing over them lately.  This is what people will spend not a little amount of money, effort, time and even pain to achieve? This is their dream? This is what they think looks good? And don’t even get me started on eHow.com’s follow-up article, “How to Get a Breast Tattoo.”

Cover Me…and Me…and Me!
September 24, 2009

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Gee, it’s getting a little crowded on the newstand. I don’t mean the number of magazines, but the number of people that seem to be crowding onto each magazine cover. If you’ve looked around lately, you can’t help but see plenty of heads among cover_self_100the headlines and sometimes it’s hard to understand at a running glance what they’re doing there, all smooshed together. Redbook offers Melrose Place’s Ashlee Simpson, movie actress Alicia Silverstone and Friday Night Light’s Connie Britton (who at first I mistook for the slimmed-down Nia Vardalos!) as their candidates for “hotties” of any age this month. Self also offers a trio, of Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis and Malin Ackerman of the movie rom com Couples Retreat, which I guess you could call a post-wedding He’s Not That Into You … Anymore. And then there’s Ladies Home Journal, which supersizes the concept by cramming all five of the ladies of The View into one shot. Besides having to share that precious cover oxygen with all of her pink-clad cohorts, poor Barbara Walters looks like she’s about to be strangled by the bottom headline deck. I’ll bet Babs would like to Refresh Somebody’s Life, once she stops gasping for breath.

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Even fashion magazines are getting into the act with the sorta-sapphic coupling of dewy Drew Barrymore and a glamorously wenchy Ellen Page on the cover of the current Marie Claire. This duo has been getting the most bang for their media buck – first they frolicked with their other roller-derby-saga Whip It cast-mates in the fashion pages of V magazine before they “got a room” on their MC cover. Of course we’ve all seen group covers before, like Vanity Fair’s annual movie issue or Vogue’s random model-stacked anniversary numbers. And obviously some of these October-issue ladies of the month are no doubt overjoyed because otherwise they would never get a cover on their own. Conversely, someone iconic like Drew enhances her good-natured “one of the gals” image by sharing her cover “candy” with her co-star – most actresses in insecurity-laden Hollywood aren’t that generous, to put it mildly.

But this new cover oversharing seems like something else – a desperate grab at something, anything, as magazines flail about in the new-media seas, looking for any port in a storm. And I think these cover multitudes are working against their interest most of the time – the monthlies are starting to look like the tabloids, with all those little faces. Is that what they really want? A single cover subject somehow embodies what a magazine is really about, what it endorses, what makes it unique. A crowd? Not so much.


Call Her Anna
September 22, 2009

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The September Issue, the documentary about Vogue, Anna Wintour (seen above in a scene with photographer Mario Testino) and the making of the magazine’s largest-ever September 2007 issue, brought with it a ton of publicity, culminating in her appearance on David Letterman’s show just before Fashion Week. Finally the film has opened in LA (and it expands across the country this coming weekend) and, for all you Anna-philes out there, the movie reveals some amusing and arcane remnants to ponder about the legendary editor.

1. Anna doesn’t like black! I had never realized this before but think, quick, have you ever seen her photographed in a little black dress? And she isn’t very partial to it in the pages of her magazine either. In one segment, Anna’s palpable gloom is hilarious as YSL’s designer Stephano Pilati determinedly tries to assure her that the muted morass of his new collection includes some murky green and red. She doesn’t see it (and, really, neither do we).

2. Anna lives in a cottage! Or rather, a ersatz cottage inside a Village townhouse with goldenrod decorator-sponged walls (so ’90s!), pretty painted pottery and a jumble of coats hanging in the entryway. I don’t know why I was so surprised – her ex-husband was an academic, not the corporate type like Miranda Priestly’s withering spouse in The Devil Wears Prada. But in contrast with her chilly, walk-the-plank office….

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3. Anna loves prints!  You can take the girl out of England but you can’t take England out of the girl, apparently.  Her uniform is unvarying – a print dress (often Prada) worn with or without a cardigan.  Add fur at the slightest hint of a breeze. Delicate Manolos in summer (no lumbering Louboutin platforms for her!) and sleek boots in winter. More often than not, she accessorizes only with what appears to be a very fine vintage citrine necklace. Customarily a floral print gives your run-of-the-mill fashionista the worst kind of the heebie-jeebies so it’s kind of perversely wonderful that they’re the unvarying uniforn of the queen.

Off – and Farther Off – the Runway
September 21, 2009

Courtesy of the hilarious Tom & Lorenzo of Project Rungay blog fame, I thought these pictures of some of the Emmy gowns from yesterday next to shots from their original showing on the runway give a hint at what their stylists, both rightly or wrongly, might have been thinking.

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Project Red Carpet
September 21, 2009

For me, the Emmy 2009 fashion parade was a lot like Project Runway – there were a lot of looks that yelled “Safe!” Let’s also note in passing there were still a lot of girls dressing way too old for their age and red lipstick plus bright California sunshine never works.

Herewith, my favorites:

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1328672223_12394849588I honestly thought there’d be a few more short dresses, especially after talking to people for my LA Times piece Sunday. Maybe some ladies chickened out in the end. And I’ve skipped over the red-carpet low points – those girls know who they are and why rub it in? They have to live with those pictures forever. One last thought – though black is synonymous with high chic, there wasn’t one killer black dress on the red carpet last night.

Addie’s Ashes?
September 18, 2009

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Brother, can you spare some diamante?  That might have been the refrain as Ralph Lauren showed his version of dust-bowl chic yesterday, complete with faded blue satin workshirts and factory jackets, thin little dresses right out of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, and riffs on that legendary American piece of gothic iconography, the overall, in smooth renditions from satin to silver metallic.

225395And denim, a Ralph staple, was patched, torn, weathered and eventually shredded and distressed to a threadbare fare-thee-well and then completely overbeaded. My friend the New York Stylist wondered about the propriety of recycling one depression’s duds in the midst of another downturn.  I didn’t see that thought in any of the reviews I scanned – most gave Ralph the usual hurrah for his take on Americana (except in those seasons when he’s figuratively off to Ascot or Apthorp, of course). But I think it’s a valid point, especially when you compare it to the upoar that followed John Galliano in 2000 when he turned Les Clochards, the Parisian street-dwellers, into couture fodder. It might be just a talking point – I doubt we’ll see Lauren’s silvered overall gown or shredded beaded jeans outside the runway (and maybe it’s because I just read a profile of Christian Audijier, but I kind of have nightmares about how those jeans would be worn in real life in a “Real Housewives” world). In the end it brought me back to Addie Pray, the crafty con kid from Paper Moon, clad in her workaday overalls, ever trying to work the angles. But of course all she really wants is a little love.  Hey, maybe she could find a job on 7th Avenue.

Update: Somehow I missed Cathy Horyn’s salvo on her N.Y. Times blog.

Skorting the Issue
September 17, 2009

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It’s spring again for 2010, at least on the runway this week, and a young man’s fancy turns to…halter tops. At least that’s the view from designer Thom Browne, he of the signature shrunken jackets and shin-baring trousers.  But with his runway boys sporting oversize polka-dots, lipstick rosebuds and those halters (along with mini-skorts and cuffed gaucho pants), Browne hit a nerve that seems awfully close to the surface. Women’s Wear Daily couldn’t wait to pounce: “The clothes were ridiculous…add the lipstick and its officially a drag show…to make unwearable art that takes no account of the wearer’s dignity is only dodging the challenge.”

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I don’t know for sure but I think WWD might be feeling their masculinity’s a little threatened. Ya think? But have they stepped outside lately?  When every twenty-something man around seems to have waxed his eyebrows, how far away is lipstick, really?  And the neoprene mini-skort?  I picked up a Barneys fall catalogue recently only to find on the cover a swell Raf Simon’s double-breasted suit, topped not with a smart topcoat or trench but instead with a “neoprene shrug, $375.”

And then there’s the skort, which actually might be the garment of the future, combining shorts in back and a skirt panel in front – intersex styling that’s functional, non- patriarchal and anatomically neuter.  And people used to think we were all gonna run around in spacesuits in the 21st Century! One early-adopter has already made the skort his uniform and he’s pretty influential – top-o-the-heap designer Marc Jacobs lives in his, day in and day out, only changing his shirt from black to white, accessorized in summer with a sandal and winter with a combat boot.

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Sometimes when he’s out and about, he adds a smart black leather envelope bag – a clutch really.  I’m sure it’s all about utility to Jacobs  but there’s probably a Women’s Wear editor somewhere breaking out in a sweat just at the thought. It’s all right, because this week’s fashion issue of the New Yorker has just the answer:

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Good ‘n Panty
September 16, 2009

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I’m not at Fashion Week this season, but from the looks of things for next spring New York designers have got their creative wad in a panty. Whether tight-y and white-y, a step away from nude, or in blazing color, the high-waisted  granny-underwear shape is no longer just an unseen foundation. This panty stands alone, whether in Alexander Wang’s sheer-sided party version paired with a sparkly sweater, Derek Lam’s sophisticated off-the-shoulder Park Avenue playsuit or Marc Jacobs’ satin-paneled shorties,

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layered over another emphatically high-waisted panty in sheer swiss. And he adds a matching bra layered over the shirt in his Rei Kawakubo-inspired collection – Good Things Comme To Those Who Wait? This may have all started back in July at Dior Haute Couture when John Galliano, inspired by photos of post-war models half-dressed in their cabine, sent out his models in just part of a look, a tailored “Bar” jacket here over a hand-made lacy-garter belt or a beaded lantern-shaped skirt there shown with an exquisite brassiere. But that was an arch concept for the Paris salon; here is New York we’re seeing the playful side of the panty raid.