Auntie Fashion

I’m the fashion world’s most-enduring muse.

Archive for April 2008

I Adore Diane Keaton . . .

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Annie Hall

Annie Hall

I remember walking through a department store in the autumn of 1977, not long after Annie Hall premiered.  Every prominently-featured mannequin was dressed like Diane Keaton.  I felt the “shift” in fashion at that moment.

70s fashion, to that point, was defined by two distinct movements.  There were hippies, and there were those chic people who wore American sportswear.  American fashion had really come into its own in the early 70s.  Both movements influenced what the world was wearing, just as London had done in the 60s.

Then Diane Keaton strolled into the spotlight.  In one fell swoop, she obliterated both trends by merging them into one look.  She was as modern as a Fortrel suit, yet free from the shackles of fashion’s oppression.  She was a feminine feminist clad in clothing that straddled the gap between double-knit comfort and political commentary.  Charlie’s Angels owe her everything!

It always amazes me when one person comes along and changes the course of fashion.  Diane Keaton did that when she wore her own clothes in Annie Hall.  Since that time, her fashion choices have been ridiculed by a lot of people.  The tabloids seems to enjoy picking on her.  Still, she’s one of the most influential women in modern fashion history.

I love what she wears today.  She’s kooky and chic and relevant and irreverant.  I’d rather see a hundred Diane Keatons on the red carpet than another boring prom queen styled by Phillip Blech.  Sure, she’ll never make the best-dressed page of The Star, but I don’t believe that’s the sort of goal she’s interested in achieving, anyway.

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April 23, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Posted in I Adore...

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Tim Gunn’s Guide to Pasty Makeup Application

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Tim Gunn

I hadn’t seen Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style until last night.  In fact, I still haven’t seen a full episode because I tuned in about halfway into the show.  Nevertheless, I did see enough to notice that the format of the program is highly unoriginal.  It’s What Not to Wear meets Queer Eye.  Frankly, I expected more from everyone involved.

Sidebar: A few years ago, Auntie Fashion made a TV pilot that was shopped around at the premiere non-fiction television festivals.  Although the producers who convinced her to do the show were enthusiastic, Auntie Fashion was never optimistic about the potential of selling the show.  The makeover show trend had — in her opinion — already been beaten into the ground.

Despite the show’s format, there was one thing about TGGTS that bothered me even more than the crappy content: Everyone was wearing the pastiest foundation I’ve ever seen.  Veronica Web looked like Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her.  The makeover victim looked like Goldie Hawn in the same film.  There was something almost eerie about their maquillage.  Even Gunn himself didn’t escape the show’s makeup artist.  He was exceptionally pasty.

At first I thought that my new High Definition cable package was showing me something that I had never noticed before.  Then I realized that I wasn’t watching an HD channel.

It’s sort of sad to see the great lengths people will go to in order to appear inhuman.  Would it be so terrible if America noticed that you have pores?  Would your career in showbiz crash and burn if your audience saw a bead of sweat develop on your forehead?  Are a couple of freckles standing between you and the road to superstardom?

Don’t get me wrong: I love makeup!  I love the beauty business!  I see a tiny line developing on my face and think “In the name of Zob, what’s next?”  No one wants to look worse.  What I don’t love is this trend that makes everyone look like airbrushed mannequins.  It’s too bad that someone with Tim Gunn’s diplomatic skills isn’t trying to promote a healthy compromise between the people who sell pasty orange foundation and the people who market Dove soap.  There has to be a middle ground.  Beautiful people still need to look like people.

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April 22, 2008 at 3:31 pm

Posted in Random Reviews

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Seriously . . .

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Upside Down Shoe

I have to admit that I don’t really pay attention to what Marc Jacobs is doing.  Ever since the Evil AntiZob first directed his evil gaze toward me, I’ve been afraid of him.  I know people who feel the same way about other things.  Some get anxious when a bird flies too close to their head.  Others may shriek in horror when a spider appears out of nowhere.  I have my own phobias.  For instance, I tense up when I hear the name of the so-called designer, causing a little line between my eyebrows to deepen.  I know that if it keeps happening, I’m going to develop a permanent crease there.  Oh, the horror!

Anyhow, I was checking out the competition on WordPress, and I came across the most hideous thing I’ve seen in ages.  It seems that the Evil AntiZob has designed this monstrously ugly shoe.  I guess he figured it would be clever to create a shoe with the heel in the wrong place.  However, to me it looks like something that the freaky girl who crawled out of the well in The Ring would wear as she was contorting her way out of the TV set and slithering across the floor towards you.  In other words, this shoe would be the last thing you would see before you died a horrible death.

I can’t think of a more frightening way to go.

Marc Jacobs Site

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April 21, 2008 at 4:39 am

Posted in Trend Warning

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Prêt-à-Porter

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I had high hopes for this movie.  What could have been more exciting than seeing cinematic legend Robert Altman put the world of high fashion under his lens?  And the cast!  Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Julia Roberts, Kim Basinger, Lauren Bacall, Tracey Ullman — just to name a few!

Frankly, I’ve never been to a worse movie.

Let me rephrase that.  I’ve never been to a bad movie that I’ve enjoyed less than Prêt-à-Porter.  At least Showgirls had me saying to myself “Just when I thought they couldn’t stoop any lower.”  At least Glitter had that psychic songwriting scene and the marvelously wooden Mariah Carey.  At least From Justin to Kelly had dance moves I could mimic in my living room while the neighbors watched through the window.

Prêt-à-Porter has nothing.  If Altman’s talent for naturalistic film-making was made to spoof anything, it should have been the world of fashion — that’s a no-brainer.  Getting the fashionista to be comic is like shooting fish in a barrel.  Following the fabulous around with a camera and expecting magic to happen should have been the easiest gig of Altman’s career.

Most movies about fashion try too hard.  The Devil Wears Prada is so eager to provide scathing social commentary, it comes off as an After School Special or a very special episode of BlossomZoolander is so eager to parody the conventions of the modeling business that it forgets to avoid every hackneyed convention of the formulaic Hollywood comedy.

Still, these movies have one thing that Prêt-à-Porter never had: They remain watchable.  Even if you’re just watching to see what Meryl Streep is going to wear next, or to laugh at Ben Stiller’s Blue Steel, at least there is something.

Again, Prêt-à-Porter has nothing.  I’m not sure if Altman tried too hard, or if he didn’t try hard enough.  The only thing that I can compare it to is a fluorescent green, neoprene dress that Donna Karan designed in the late 80s.  Sometimes you just have to admit that you’re completely out of your element and move on.

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April 20, 2008 at 3:29 pm

Posted in Random Reviews

Designer Handbags

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Cowgirl Purse

Cowgirl Purse

Simon Doonan and I are kindred spirits.

I’ve been over designer handbags for quite some time.  Don’t get me wrong: I love handcrafted leather goods and a stylish bag.  Nevertheless, it’s awfully silly to spend a ton of money on something that says “The person who designed me is soooooo stylish!”

That’s what most bags are like nowadays.  The entire point of carrying a bag is to advertise your allegiance to the aesthetic of a designer.  If you worship at the altar of Miuccia, you carry a Prada bag.  If you’re a disciple of Dior, you’ll carry a Dior bag.  If you’re a minion of the Evil AntiZob, you’ll spend your rent money on a Marc Jacobs bag, then call your parents back in New Jersey and make up some story about how you were mugged on the subway so that they’ll send you a check before you get kicked out of your apartment and have to quit your job as an intern at Teen Vogue.

Your bag should say something about you.  It should reflect your sense of style.  In his book, “Eccentric Glamour”, Doonan suggests that women get in the habit of carrying a signature bag.  I believe that’s a great idea.  Unfortunately, we live in a society where most everything is disposable, so people don’t care for their possessions like they used to.  For that reason, Doonan’s advice might not translate to the rabble.  However, for those of you who would like to elevate yourselves above the artless rabble, it’s advice you ought to consider.

And if you don’t want to carry one bag, then get in the habit of carrying a wardrobe of bags that don’t advertise your loyalty to a luxury goods conglomerate.  Visit the site I posted above and order that cowgirl purse for forty bucks (and wear it with the fringed pants I blogged about yesterday).  Or buy a bag online that isn’t normally distributed in the country where you live.  Try to find a new bag that no one else has, and carry it because it’s you.  Don’t become a billboard for anyone else’s agenda.

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April 19, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Things I Loathe

The Disco Cowboy Trend

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Sometime between Saturday Night Fever (1977) and Urban Cowboy (1980), the three Wilson brothers started calling themselves The Gap Band.  Soon they were charting R&B hits and making performance videos like the gem I posted above.

Like anyone who has an enduring sense of style, The Gap Band had conviction in their own aesthetic.  Unfortunately, their aesthetic was starting to look a little tired by 1982, when this song was first released.  While the rest of the world was moving towards a Duran Duran/Miami Vice look, the Wilson brothers were making their disco cowboy outfits more sparkly than ever.  The fringed pants in the video are especially wonderful (I think I’ve worn the same slacks to Sunday brunch).  Nevertheless, fashion had left the Wilsons behind.

I don’t suggest that anyone becomes a slave to the trends, but sometimes you have to play the game and keep up with the times.  Otherwise, you may end up in disco cowboy duds when you could have been primping in an onstage mirror while wearing a Zoot suit, like Morris Day of The Time.  Perhaps The Gap Band should have made “funk fusion” their singular style, rather than hitching their wagons to the disco cowboy look.

It all sounds so simple in retrospect.  But when it comes to style, having a signature look is the greatest thing you can do for yourself.  Just don’t bore anyone with a one-note repertoire.  Besides subscribing to InStyle, I don’t believe there’s a bigger crime against fashion than being boring.

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April 18, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Rome, if you want to…

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Group shot

ANTM Group Shot

Last night’s episode of America’s Next Top Model almost had it all!  Fatima was nearly disqualified because she didn’t have her travel documents in order.  Lauren almost cut her thumb off.  Anya won another challenge and pissed off the rest of the girls when she was paid $10,000 for a modeling job.  Whitney got told to cut the pageant performance.  Katarzyna was finally seen in a confessional.  And best of all, Stacy Ann was shown the door — finally!

However, the episode was missing one crucial element.  When Tyra announced that the remaining girls would be traveling to Rome, she simply got on a plane, and that was that.

What happened to this show?  I was expecting her to be dressed as a pizza chef — or maybe as a pizza — while delivering the news of the upcoming trip in a butchered Italian accent.  Or maybe she could have pretended to be Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita, or Sophia Loren, or Cicciolina, or Mussolini.  Perhaps she could have dressed as one of the Super Mario Bros. and been chased around the set by Donkey Kong.  Something would have been better than nothing.

Don’t tell me that this show is attempting to cultivate some good taste.  After nine-and-a-half train-wreck seasons, that’s something I wouldn’t be able to bear.

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April 17, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Posted in A Soupçon of Je Ne Sais Quois

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