Archive for the ‘TRENDS’ Category

Mad Mien
December 17, 2009

Tell us how you really feel David Colman! In a story for the New York Times style section today (with delightful photo-illustrations, by the way, shot by Douglas Friedman), he celebrates the ’50s- and ’60s-style of young men these days – seen mostly in New York, natch – and lowers the sartorial boom on their elders:  “Young men are embracing the “Mad Men” elements of style in a way that the older men never did, still don’t and just won’t. The result is a kind of rift emerging between the generation of men in their 20s and 30s and those in their late 40s and 50s for whom a suit was not merely square but cubed, and caring about how one looked was effeminate.”

Whoa there, boy. Colman makes some convincing points about young men becoming entranced with the sartorial bounce of Rat Pack style as well as the dreary conformity of casual wear that has been adopted wholesale by our society because “it’s comfortable.” But his undisguised scorn for anyone older than (horrors!) 45, who Colman says, is always “the worst-dressed man in the room, wearing a saggy T-shirt and jeans,” permeates the whole story to the point of absurdity.

Equally absurd are some of his conclusions, starting with the one above that boomers find caring about fashion “effeminate” – his word, not mine. I don’t know where he’s been the last 20 years or so, but men of that generation have been as exacting about their style as they have been about their wine, their coffee and their cuisine – and somehow remaining secure in their masculinity at the same time.  And yes, young men may have rediscovered the suit, but the “olds” somehow spent millions of dollars on suits from Armani, Prada, Gucci, Ralph and Dolce & Gabbana since they came of age in the ’80s.

Colman also cites blogs like A Continuous Lean and The Trad to bolster his case but that works both ways – even a casual reader of the grandaddy of style blogs, The Sartorialist, will come away with a renewed appreciation for the often-dashing style of men in their middle years – and beyond.  Next to images like the one below, some kid rocking a ’60s sack suit in the name of “irony” looks like a rank amateur.

Colman does have one good point – yes, there are lots of men who couldn’t care less about what they put on in the morning, but unfortunately that malaise cuts across all ages. Here’s hoping his precious vanguard of hipster suit-wearers has some effect on the rest of their own generation outside of Brooklyn and Manhattan. But I’m not holding my breath.

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Some Liked It Hot
December 14, 2009

There’s a funny article in The New Yorker this week about what the audiences – mostly women – have been wearing to see the off-Broadway play Love, Loss, and What I Wore, by Nora and Delia Ephron, adapted from the memoir by Ilene Beckerman. Though the audience members mostly favor “sober chic” ensembles of cashmere  sweaters and dark wool pants, some of them take a walk down fashion-memory lane. My favorite, Jill Leider (identified as a classmate of Nora Ephron’s at Beverly Hills High), laments over the way people dress these days, including her own wool pants in the bargain: ” ‘From Banana Republic,’ she said with disdain. ‘I should have today the clothes I had then.’ ”

From what she told the writer Rebecca Mead, her closet must have been something: “The hot pants! I remember going to La Grenouille in our shorts and boots. At one point I had thirty Courrèges,and as many Puccis. We all did. I wouldn’t have gone to the supermarket then in what I wear to a restaurant now.”

The hot pants! That made me really laugh out loud. For those too young, or pretending to be too young, to remember, these couture shorts were all the rage circa 1971. Not only for the young, but as Ms. Leider accurately remembers, for society ladies who definitely lunched in them as well as danced the night away in evening versions (often with some kind of front-slit overskirt). It was a brief (no pun intended, really) but worldwide phenomenon, from New York (a Kennedy sister or two), to London (Twiggy, duh) to Paris (the sublime Jane Birkin, seen above).

I was a kid in school then and remember a girl in my class – the daughter of the local junior fashion shop owner – who wore a different hot pants get-up every day for the entire spring term – in Omaha! Of course, Americans were quick to see the commercial possibilities of the leggy trend and several airlines in those “Fly Me!” days adopted them as stewardess uniforms, including Southwest. Ready for takeoff!


Leather and Repeat
October 19, 2009

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“Six thousand dollars? And it’s not even leath-uh,” exclaims Joan Cusack’s bridge-and-tunnel Cyn to Melanie Griffith’s Tess in the ’80s classic Working Girl. Well, working girls as well as ladies who play all day will have a generous bonus of leather options come spring, since plush plongé and couture calfskin were all over the recent runway shows.

I’ve talked about the Celine collection from Phoebe Philo before but her luxe minimalism was a game-changer in fashion – in nearly every exit she worked leather into a series of stark shapes – effortless T-shirts, cropped pullover “shrugs” and gently shaped dresses like the one above. On this side of the Atlantic, Michael Kors’ tastes were decidedly more vanilla as he put a ’80s spin on a white leather shift.

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Donatella Versace reaches back one decade more for her ’70s-centric yet thoroughly modern spring coat, intricately worked with pretty pastel trim, in a standout collection that also included candy-colored leather minis, sweet even with their studded spirals.

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If you just want a little something-something to ward off an early spring chill, Londoner Giles Deacon offered a zipper vest in (with apologies to Tom Wolfe) kandy-kolored tangerine flake. Baby!

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You’d expect the house of Hermès to have the last word, and its “Tennis, Anyone?” collection did not disappoint. Leather master Jean Paul Gaultier’s ingenious pleated skirts of strips of leather and chiffon made for adorable little tennis dresses that will probably see plenty of action – just not on any court. Game, Set, Match!

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Fashion Flock
October 2, 2009

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You know, sometimes things are just in the air – like runway trends, even though insiders like to say it’s because designers go to the same European fabric shows or their assistants all talk to each other. I was reminded of that when I picked up last week’s New Yorker and saw Susan Orlean’s article, “The It Bird.” Though once scorned, a lowly farm animal is in vogue again – I’m talking about the chicken!

Of course it all started with Martha. Stewart, that is. Her first book, Entertaining, “featured her flock of rare-breed chickens and their pretty pastel-colored eggs,” Orlean writes. “The photographs of Stewart with her flock were a revelation.” And Martha stayed loyal to her girls when she started her magazine, “and often featured her chickens in Ford-model-style head shots that made them look ennobled; she also introduced her first paint collection, which was based on egg colors from her flock.”

buo_1_sI just about fell over when I saw the article, and here I’m getting to my point about things being out there in the either.  In July, I had spent my annual and awaited East Hampton weekend at the home of my dear friend George and his partner Norman. George is an avid rose gardener (his beds stunningly planted at the edge of a forest!) and one day we paid a call “in town” to an elderly gardening friend of his who had been a bit unwell.  There in the village of East Hampton, “Camellia Jim” welcomed us into his historic home and out to see his yard, shaded by tall hedges and ringing with show tunes emanating from the neighboring summer house of a Broadway star.  But what caught my eye and stayed long in my imagination was the flock of exquisite chickens running to and fro underfoot, which I later learned were Buff Offingtons, prized for their deep gold color, winter-proof thick feathers and stately disposition.

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Reminded of that sunny afternoon by Orlean’s article, I started seeing the spring collections in a whole new dappled light. New York’s young Turk Joseph Altuzarra had taken a detour from his sharp-shouldered draped minis to a collection of buff browns, surprisingly combined with delicate white dimity. Where some thought Woodstock, I saw an updated take on Green Acres, barnyard-born style for the city street.

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Over in Milan, Alberta Ferretti got buff too by working a similar color scheme and topping her little dresses with aprons, just the thing for gathering up some farm-fresh eggs early in the morning. And 00730mKarl Lagerfeld at Fendi also seemed to have been hanging around the coop with his delicate buff gown. He even complemented his country-girl collection with go-to-market burlap handbags with a button-off floral-embroidered cover, as the humble but I’m sure equally expensive successor to the Fendi Baguette. At this rate, how long can it be until we see delicately-hued Buff Offingtons and Buff Cochins clucking around the feet of models in Vogue? (As it is, the random photograph I found on online at the top of this column of an English lad, his pet chicken and a buddy, is barely a step away from a fashion shot.)  Right now, the fashion flock is in Paris, and I’m hoping feathers will fly on the runway. C’est chick.

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.

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.”