Monday, November 23, 2009

Hollywood and The Green Theme

Natalie Portman was wearing some cute purple shoes by Aldo at the Brothers premiere in NYC Sunday night.  Her comments regarding the fact that the shoes didn't have the normal celebrity price tag... "but they're vegan!"  That should surely get the creative juices flowing and the flood gates open in the fashion community.  

I have one question though, can you really give up a great pair of leather shoes for synthetics?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The New Luxe: An Era of Seduction

As I search to understand what 2010 is going to look like I realize that I just can't get enough of the lingerie and kitten heals that were all over the Spring 2010 runways.  It makes sense of course.  If conspicuous consumption is so 2007 and diamond studded iPods are now on auction going to the highest bidder, then 2010 must be about what's discrete, yet lavish, and caters to the privileged few.  What better way to do this than to adorn yourself with incredible underpinnings that will most likely be for a private show only.  Think burlesque and you've got the luxe 2o10 formula...... what's best is that it is both priceless and classic.  The last time we saw this genre get so much attention was in the late 40's/early 50's.

For guidance on how to interpret this trend you could wear your breaches out in public like Lady Gaga, but for the discerning fashionista I believe Dita Von Teese is a more suitable style icon.  Or, we can wait for Kristen Bell to show us how it's done in her upcoming movie Burlesque (2010).

Jean Paul Gaultier and Dolce & Gabbana are at the top of their game in this arena.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gothic Lolita

My new obsession..... Japanese street fashion. To be even more specific..... Lolita. Take this look, let Karl Lagerfeld work his magic, and you have a great Spring 2010 runway show for Chanel (picture top right).

The Lolita style was born out of a reaction to current fashion in search of modesty sometime in the 1970's and is still a sub culture today in Japan. The genre looks to Victorian and Rococo clothing styles for inspiration. The idea is to be sweet, demure, and pure rather than sexy, although the name may suggest otherwise. Some common elements to the style are the headdress, blouse, petticoats, knee highs, Mary Jane platform shoes, ringlet curls, doll-like makeup, bell shaped skirt, and vintage hats. The Lolita look is then divided into subdivisions such as sweet, classic, punk and goth (picture bottom right). There are so many variations of the style that they cross over to suit the wearer's personality.

To get an even better understanding, watch Gossip Girl for a
Western interpretation of this increasingly popular
look. Blair Waldorf's style is a mix between sweet and classic Lolita and Little J's
went from classic to punk throughout the second season. It's becoming so common that the style popped up on Chanel's Spring 2010 runway as shown in the picture above.

If you want to get the look here is an informative web sites to get you on your way:

Fall 2009 Trend Recap

Style | 80's Bondage Vegas Baroque Biker Babe Flemish Masculine Toy Story Art Deco Oriental New York Boudoir Mongolia | Color | Silver Electric Blue Avian Blue Purple Red Cantaloupe Plastic Pop Powdery Faint Tones Emerald Petrol Ochre Brown Brick Red Brushwood Smoky Grey Black Square Shiny | Details | Reptile Jewelry Animal Print Retro Provocative Velvet Sequins Knits Lace Rhinestones Crystals Diamonds Fringe

The more decorative, romantic, mysterious and daring the better for Fall/Winter 2009. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Public Face of Fashion

This latest fashion season, like no other before, truly opened its arms to the public and broke down the walls of the pristine and mystical world of fashion.  There was no other way to move forward for the fashion crowd partly because of the great recession and partly because of the advancement of social media.  Elite brands can no longer ignore the use of social media such as twitter and facebook as a means to market their brand.  Forbes Magazine points out that if the brands don't do it, other people will and they won't be in control to manage their own public image.  With so many people pretending to be famous fashion designers or editors on-line, the once allusive personalities had to come forward and take control of what is being said and shown to their fans and customers over the internet.  

This change in how consumers communicate doubled with a sour economy gave us a spectacular 6 weeks of parties and fashion shows that we could all participate in.  Fashion's Night Out, organized by Vogue as a means to entice customers to spend, kicked off the fashion season with stores open until 11 p.m. all over the world and places like Bergdorf Goodman, where the Olsen twins were serving drinks, had lines twisting around the block to get in.  What made it successful is that people who are not in the small circle of fashion could get a glimpse at the fabulous parties that go on in this world.  As for the actual fashion shows, many streamed the runway shows live such as Louis Vuitton and Alexander McQueen.  Once you had to have a personal invitation, now everyone can watch in real time as long as you have an Internet connection and computer available.  

Although bloggers and tweeters are heavily influencing consumer's purchasing decisions, I believe the traditional gatekeepers are still in charge as long as they are in step with the times.  Transparency keeps these companies relevant in today's world.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What Were They Thinking?

While most trend research these days points to sustainable fashion, Ungaro went in another direction and appointed Lindsay Lohen as artistic director.  Most designers endure years of schooling, interning, sweat and tears to follow their passion.  It is difficult for any fashion designer to accept that a Hollywood starlet can go to a beautiful Parisian atelier and claim such a position.  Clearly Ungaro is trying a commercial angle to revive a brand in these very troubled times.  The most disturbing aspect to LiLo as artistic director is what this says about our society.  Are we as a culture so caught up in fame for fame's sake that it takes a celebrity without any outstanding qualities besides her scandals to revive one of the finest fashion labels in history?  Only time will tell and the measure will be Ungaro's success in sales.  

On a positive note, Ungaro made a fabulous choice in hiring the emerging designer Estrella Archs.  Her work is beautiful, she is a graduate from the most prestigious school in fashion and has worked for some of the top brands.  I look forward to seeing how she evolves with the brand and am confident that she can lead the Ungaro team to fine fashion.

P.S. I'm guessing that the heart shaped pasties under the blazers on the runway was a LiLo choice.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Red Is The New Fuschia

Since the year 2001 I have been wondering if pink and it's various hues were ever going to go out of style and they haven't yet!  Marc Jacobs put hot pink bows in his model's hair last week for his Spring 2010 runway show.   Sugar and spice and everything nice is what we think of when we see precious pink.  It's still here and it's still sweet but now many designers have decided to remove the white from the formula and give us RED!  Usually a new trend in color arises from the need to distinguish and express ourselves in new ways.  Red seems to be the popular color that will usher in our new decade.  With its associations like courage, energy, fire, and love, to name some of the positive ones, it seems that designers are preparing for a thrilling new beginning.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Is Trading Up Flushing Out?

As a fashion designer I am constantly searching to understand where we are today and where we are going to be tomorrow.  We are always on the cusp of something wonderfully new and now is a particular moment in history that we are all trying to understand.  Some insightful information about where we are today highlights the latest news concerning Christian Lacroix.  He's in financial trouble and may be liquidating.  

An article in the New York Times by Suzy Menkes, Lacroix Files For Bankruptcy, explains that 20 years ago we idealized the haute couture designer and his royal following and would purchase perfumes and such to buy in to the brand representing the highest craftsmanship, creativity, and allure.  This is no longer the case today.  As a society we want to buy in to celebrity pop culture and royalty is not as bankable as Hollywood anymore.  We don't seem to be as interested in the prestige of birth, but instead how good we look and how hard we rock while we are here.  Therefore, why would we buy a perfume by Lacroix when we can get J Lo's at a similar price?  

The once popular philosophy of marketing the high end and then putting a lower priced product on the market for revenue is no longer the winning formula.  We've changed, we have become savvy to the marketing tricks of "trading up".  As Menkes describes, Giorgio Armani is doing great, but Armani has been investing in Hollywood for a long time.  When was the last time you saw a red carpet without an Armani gown or tux?  He didn't focus just on the women, but also the men and his name is synonymous with Hollywood. 

The conclusion is this:  In order to be successful in today's design market you must focus on fame.  Both fame of the designer and fame of the wearer determine the success of a brand.  This doesn't mean that tomorrow will be the same scene, it only reflects how we have been living up to now and the recession is flushing it out.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

David Lachapelle: Retrospective

David Lachapelle's work is so clearly articulated through images that words are unnecessary to explain his point of view. While in Paris last month, I had the wonderful experience of visiting the largest exhibit Paris has put on for the iconic fashion photographer. Unique and ironic, David Lachapelle pushes the envelope in his photography often using religious motifs in art history, with a particular interest in the Renaissance. He exploits the persona of pop culture icons recognizing that image does not necessarily correspond to reality. He got his start along side of Andy Warhol and it is no wonder that he is a genius at giving us a clear reflection of our society.

Lachapelle will relate religious scenes from the past that are relevant today and searches for contemporary references to correlate our place in time. He photographs the influence of pop culture often portraying a decadent scene that is about to be washed away by a great storm or explode into emptiness where we can start over and rebuild. Society's celebrity fascination, superficial logo aspirations, media driven culture appears unsustainable when seen through the eyes of Lachapelle. In order to be a leader today, one must attain fame. In order to to attain fame one must distinguish themselves from the masses and there are no societal boundaries today where scandal and gossip have created highly influential individuals.

In a land where wearing brand name logos is how we define ourselves, celebrities are our gods, and retail space is our temple, it will be interesting to see what David Lachapelle has in store for 2009 amidst our financial crisis and the dramatic changes we are witnessing. Is it a time to rebuild?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

80's Rule

The Oscars were last Sunday and there were some phenomenal films presented.  Best picture went to Slumdog Millionaire and best achievement in costume design went to Michael O'Connor for his beautiful work in The Duchess.  What the Oscars missed was an award for most stylish and directional film for fashion of the year.  Had that been the case, We Own the Night (even though it's from 2007) would have taken home the statue.  Seeing Eva Mendes rock a look from 1988 and the vibe that director James Gray created is driving us to crimp our hair and pull out the miniskirts, sheer black tights (leg look du jour), and big hoop earrings.  Kate Moss, the trendsetting goddess, was photographed last week at Another Magazine's dinner during London Fashion Week dressed in an 80's state of mind (see for photos).  There are still another two weeks left of the catwalks, but one thing's for sure after reviewing the fashion shows from New York, London, and Milan......  the 80's craze is in full swing.  It's a great time to get excited about style.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Berge'

Yves Saint Laurent
Pierre Berge'

Paris 23,24, 25
February 2009

Today marks the most valuable art auction session in European history thanks to the Yves Saint Laurent/Pierre Berge' art collection on sale from February 23rd to the 25th at Christie's Auction House in Paris.  World records were set for Giorgio de Chirico, Matisse, Mondrian, Duchamp, and Brancusi.  YSL and Berge' were great art connoisseurs using passion as their approach to their choices.  They were open to all different art forms and eras and never placed a stronger emphasis on one over the other.  The collection of art they acquired is a work of art in itself.  This is clearly being recognized by the world today, and surely will continue in the next two days to follow.  As seen above, Matisse's "Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose" from 1911 (a YSL favorite) sold for 35 million Euro  and Mondrian's "Composition avec bleu, rouge, jaune et noir" from 1922 (the inspiration for YSL's famous 1965 shift dress) sold for 21.5 million Euro.  Thank you both Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge' for sharing such exquisite taste with the world.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Motorcycle Jacket

With impeccable fit and the highest attention to detail, motorcycle jackets must be custom made in order to allow it's wearer the freedom and protection that these pleasure seekers need to achieve comfort and speed while on the open road.  These jackets that represented rebellious youth in America in the 1950's and 60's are not only a means of protection from serious injury, but a fashion statement as well.  They have been a constant inspiration for designers from the high street to haute couture.  While designing menswear in Florence, Italy, I would often reference these jackets to create cool looks.  Because of their visual message of risk, speed, and dangerous activities, icons have been made.

Short, fitted black leather jackets starting becoming popular during World War I when they were worn by aviators.   They represented speed and adventure.  After WWI, leather jackets were inspired by the military wear of soldiers and pilots.  They emulated the A-1 jacket used by the Army Air Corp and were styled with a mandarin collar and button front closure.  This 1920's silhouette was adopted by motorcyclists.  In 1928 Schott Bros of New York designed the first double style leather motorcycle jacket with a zipper up the front and named it Perfecto after the designer's favorite cigar.

In 1947, Ross Langlitz of Langlitz Leathers in Portland, Oregon developed the "classic" rocker style jacket that was similar to Perfecto (you can still get these bespoke pieces today).  In the 1950's and 60's the rocker jacket became the uniform of the unconventional wild ones.  This was epitomized by Hollywood first in the 1953 movie The Wild One starring Marlon Brando who portrayed Johnny Strabler, a young gang leader who wore a cool leather jacket and rode a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird 6T, and then by James Dean in the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause.  Because of the nonconformist ideals that these Hollywood icons represented, the motorcycle jacket created a stir in society that made a timeless statement about it's symbolism of youth and change.  

The motorcycle jacket has proven its staying power as a source of inspiration for artists and designers alike.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pitti Filati

The 64th edition of Pitti Filati was held last week at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence, Italy.  Upon entering the yarn fair, we found ourselves submerged in an urban setting conceptualized by Angelo Figus and Nicola Miller.  Their research of colors, yarns, and trends for Spring/Summer 2010 was revealed to us through a cityscape entitled HUMANIZE-ME.  Starting with a sporty street and graphic inspiring area, we then moved our way to a city spa, a city park, a gaming area, and finally to the workforce.  Of these area's the most directional inspirations were from the following categories:

Monopoly - the 1935 board game published by Charles Darrow after the Great Depression is a strong source of inspiration for 2010.  It was developed in the early 1900's in order to explain the world of finance and taxation which has again become our global fascination today.  For further affirmation of this societal movement, in recent years McDonald's ,Hasbro, and most recently Shell have been using McDonald's Monopoly as a sweepstakes advertising promotion.

Men at Work - think stimulus plan and bank bailouts.  In this area the trends are directed towards workman's clothes as well as corporate suits.  We are already beginning to see this trend with the return of the jumpsuit in women's wear.  Recycling, deconstruction, and heterogeneous materials are an important part of the M.A.W. mix.  

City Spa - a place of zenful ease and luxurious self-indulgence from the frenetic city dweller's lifestyle.  This is the area where inspiration for materials in high demand can be found such as linen, organic cotton, milk, and bamboo. 

The direction for Spring/Summer 2010 is about global and self awareness.  A strong interest in the environment is ever present in the demand for organic materials and a soothing color range with an emphasis on pastels in blue and green.  At the other end of the spectrum, Spring 2010 is influenced by pop culture and the decisive colors in shades of yellow, orange, and red.  Overall, there is a continuation in crystals and sequins, pleats and origami, and feathers and fringe.

Looking forward to 2010!    

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Men's Runway Shows Winter 09/10

If the men's runway shows in Milan and Paris are any indication of the future of the economy, it looks like we are in for more rough times despite all our hope in the next coming Fall.  Gone were the glossy fabrics, big logos, and brash colors.  Classic cuts, sober hues, and trends leaning towards elegant and understated were everywhere.  It sounds dismal, but the world of luxury design will be anything but boring this Fall.  It's a buyers market and the conscientious consumer may choose to stick to basics, but that doesn't mean that basics can be stale and still sell.  On the contrary, designs better be fabulous in order to survive this global economic meltdown.  If you love design and have some spare change, it will be a great time to invest in pieces that will surely be stylish throughout the years.  Collections to check out:  Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Moschino, Prada, and Burburry. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hero of Rome

Above is the latest advertising campaign for Miu Miu starring Katie Holmes.

The source of inspiration for this stunning photograph is the legend of Gaius Mucius Scaevola, dating towards the beginning of the Roman Republic. He was a noble Roman citizen, famous for his bravery. When the Etruscan king Lars Porsenna besieged Rome, a young Gaius Mucius attempted to assassinate him. He mistakenly killed one of Porsenna's secretaries instead. When brought before Porsenna, he thrust his right hand into the flame that was meant to be his punishment. Having shown no sign of pain, Porsenna was impressed by his courage and freed him. Upon his return to the city, he was given the surname Scaevola, or lefty, because his right hand was maimed. The Senate then granted him the land Mucia Prata, or Mucian Medows.

Ancient Rome is a great source of inspiration in women's wear today. Women's garments at that time did not usually have elaborate construction, but were often very decorated by the use of dying, printing, and plise'. Thin belts were then tied around the waist to give shape to the dresses.

Miu Miu's advertising campaign represents the strength, courage, and loyalty that they see in their muse as well as the inspiration they used for their collection of beautifully pleated garments.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Golden Globes

Drew Barrymore hit the nail on the fashion head at the Golden Globes following the three G's:  Gorgeous, Glamorous, and Goddess.  She pouted for the cameras in this John Galliano asymmetrical gown and her best accessory was a sultry Monroesque pose.  She gave the public exactly what they were looking for in these uncertain times.... glamorous escapism.