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.

The September Issue: Elle
August 27, 2009

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Elle, Elle, Elle…was it just last year that your fall fashion issue featured Jessica Simpson on the cover in jeans and a flannel shirt? Well this year, you’ve stepped up with a major “get” and give us Jennifer Aniston in black strapless leather (provoking a WHO-WORE-IT-BEST frenzy in cyberspace since tabloid rival Angelina Jolie, who likes to wear the same things over and over on the red carpet, has donned the same look at least twice.) There was also an artyJennifer-Aniston-Photos_inmagblock black-and-white subscriber cover with a tighter shot of her in down-home  jeans and biker jacket and a Sharpie-scrawled “JENNIFER!” headline.  I guess the leather dress shot was just a fashion tease, because the portfolio inside is just the usual “dressed-down” T-shirt, jean shorts and work shirt. But back up just a minute, because way before the feature “well”, Elle does what it does best – distilling current trends (all 25…numbered!) and the myriad ways you can find them across all price points. These pages are succinct and placed in the front of the book, not shunted to the back pages like Vogue does. Even if you don’t buy their exact suggestions, the pages are so crisp that the mental image of number 9. Deep V-Neck Blouses or whatever is seared on the brain for handy reference later when you’re in the mall. Elle also has a sense of humor – in their full-on ’80s trend pages they cite “The People’s Princess” with witty houndstooth shoes and a tartan Bo-Peep jacket alongside more-often seen memes like “Pretty in Pink” and “Brat Pack”.

So the front-of-the book pages are loaded with “merch” but it’s all so festive it comes off as great reader service not overweening commercialism. Farther along things get more problematic, when in the middle of endless bucolic outdoor portfolios (not one fashion shoot was done in studio), you linger over a beat-of-the-city-chic story and then notice all the clothes in the entire 10-page spead are by, um, Tommy Hilfiger.  This is directly followed by a four-page Marc Jacobs”beauty” portfolio touting Lola, his new frangrance, which includes the requisite portrait of Jacobs as well as a model dreamily lolling around in a blanket of roses with an oversized version of the perfume’s bottle.

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I guess it’s like those irritating pop-ups for this weekend’s rom-com when you’re just trying to read the LA Times online or like more product-placement wedged into your favorite sitcom since most people speed through the commercials when they get around to watching them on their DVR.  I know it’s tough out  there for magazines but I hope Elle at least got Tommy to chip in on the production costs of the “feature.”