Auntie Fashion

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

Archive for April 2008

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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The Simon Doonan Interview

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Simon Doonan

I had the pleasure of interviewing Simon Doonan about his book “Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You.”  Rather than giving that book the glowing review it so richly deserves here on my blog, I’ve decided to sell my review to a newspaper syndicate.  Auntie Fashion needs a new pair of shoes, and she’s been shopping at Bottega Veneta again.

Nevertheless, I felt terrible leaving my faithful readers out of the loop, so I urged Simon to answer a few questions for my blog, as well.  He graciously consented to my demands, but only after I promised to bear his children.  Men — they’re all the same!

Auntie Fashion: How and when did you first meet Prunella Crudsworth, aka Zob?

Simon Doonan: I first met her right after she was discovered.  She was smoldering with arrogance and self confidence.  “You look great!” I said, wanting her to like me.  “What makes you think I give a flying f**k what you think, you horrible gnome!”  Being insulted by Zob was like being air-kissed by Naomi or Linda. I was high on it for weeks.

Auntie Fashion: Did you immediately know that she was possessed by the spirit of Zob: The essence of fashion itself?

Simon Doonan: Everything about her screamed couture — even when she was huffing glue.

Auntie Fashion: How has knowing Zob changed your life?

Simon Doonan: Knowing Zob has taught me that some people are just more fabulous than others.  Zob is more fabulous than everyone.  Next to her I felt like a creepy weasel turd.

Auntie Fashion: In your book “Eccentric Glamour” you describe three types of eccentrics: The Gypsy, The Socialite and the Existentialist.  Did it blow your mind to see all three types embodied in one fabulous woman at the same time?

Simon Doonan: Totally!  Zob is not a supermodel, she is a giga-model.

Auntie Fashion: With the Zobpocalypse looming, do you have any advice for the style-challenged so that they don’t end up spending the rest of eternity getting spray-on tans, fake boobs and cheap, acrylic hair extensions?

Simon Doonan: Zob may be an egomaniac, and a bitch, but she would never doing anything fake.  Keep it real girls!  Zob it!

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April 16, 2008 at 5:51 am

Posted in Friends of Zob

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Fashion File: Part Two

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I first found out that Tim Blanks was leaving Fashion File when the CBC began to advertise that they were jumping on the reality show bandwagon with Fashion File Host Hunt.  I wasn’t concerned that they were going to choose a new host on a reality show.  I figured that it would be a good way to search all of Canada for Blanks’ successor.  Without the Host Hunt, Fashion File would have likely posted the job within the CBC, hiring one of their own (as is the custom at Canada’s most sycophantic organization).

So I had high hopes for the show.  But I knew that something was amiss when the first episode of the Host Hunt premiered.  After crossing the country and spending Zob-knows-how-much money to conduct a coast-to-coast talent search, the hunt began.  There was a brief montage of a few auditions, and that was it.  They conducted American Idol-style tryouts, then declined to share that footage with their viewers.

However, that wasn’t as alarming as the cast that they had chosen.  After dragging their so-called fashionable asses across Canada, they only managed to choose three candidates who didn’t hail from central Canada’s largest cities.  One of those candidates was a Maritimer living in Toronto.  Two others were from the west, and remarkably unqualified for the position.

A few of the hopefuls showed some promise.  The fabulous Henrietta Southam ate her competition alive in challenge that quizzed the candidates on their knowledge of the fashion business.  Other wannabes fell to the wayside when their substandard performances proved that they never should have been selected in the first place.  Southam asked to be eliminated when it became clear to her that the judges were looking for someone who could stroke the egos of designers when she thought they were looking for a reporter.

Eventually, only Mary Kitchen and Adrian Mainella remained.  Despite Kitchen’s annoying habit of wrinkling up her forehead until she looked like a Klingon whenever she was nervous, she was approachable and enthusiastic.  Mainella seemed competent, even if he lacked in joie de vivre.  I was satisfied with the outcome when Mainella won the job.

Then I waited a few months for the newly retooled Fashion File to debut.  I couldn’t believe what they had done to my favorite show . . .

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April 15, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Random Reviews

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The White Stuff

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Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein

Here’s a lovely photo from Francisco Costa’s 2006 Spring Collection for Calvin Klein.  It only took Costa about three years to get into a groove at CK.  By his sixth season, he was dictating the trends.  This collection in particular influenced mainstream fashion far more than almost any other New York collection of the past decade.

The white-on-white trend, the over-sized geometric print trend, and even the trend to move fashion back toward simplicity were all presented during this groundbreaking show.  It was a beautiful show at its time.  In retrospect, it was visionary.

The one trend that has really hit the streets in 2008 is the white-on-white trend.  Unfortunately, that trend seems to be poorly executed by most women who are jumping on the bandwagon.

White is the most unforgiving color a woman can wear.  It amplifies most figure flaws.  It washes out various complexions.  It shows every bit of wear and tear.  Still, it’s everywhere this spring.  All it takes is one warm day, and legions of women are walking around outside in white pants and shorts with their panty-lines visible for the whole world to see.

Yet the worst thing about white clothes is how they can remind you of utilitarian garments.  I mentioned the Bebe store in my previous post.  I noticed two white dresses in the boutique’s window when I walked by this past weekend.  Each of the dresses was better suited to a transvestite’s Slutty Nurse Halloween costume than to a sultry summer day.

Neither dress was going to have any place in a modern woman’s wardrobe, unlike the hot, little number in the photo above.  Yet the one thing that I still need to mention is that Natalia Vodianova could make a burlap sack look gorgeous.  Mere mortals might want to think twice about making either that dress or the white-on-white trend the cornerstone of their summer wardrobe.

EDITED TO ADD: Wow!  I just got into Simon Doonan’s book (the reason I was at the mall was to buy it), and it seems that Mr. Doonan shares a few of my opinions concerning white clothes and slutty nurse’s outfits.  I believe I’ve met another friend of Zob!

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April 14, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Things I Loathe

Overworked Boobs

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Vintage Bra Ad

I remember a time when brassiere ads were a lot of fun.  Before women started burning their bras, advertisers attempted to market bras in an empowering manner, as if they were saying “You’ve got boobs.  Why not take care of them?”

After the bra-burning era, Jane Russell became the face of bra marketing.  Although she was a relic of the previous era, she was also a potent presence: Aware of her power over men, yet strong and independent.  She wanted a bra that could support her breasts.  She wasn’t wearing it for your sake.

Now bra marketing is all about how little a woman can actually wear while still wearing a bra.  Victoria’s Secret commercials are the gold-standard of the genre, featuring supermodels writhing around in a state of orgasmic bliss.  Nevertheless, if fashion didn’t demand such unobtrusive undergarments there would be no need for those undergarments.  I blame the skanky clothes women are buying.

For example, I walked by the Bebe store yesterday in the mall.  It seemed like every article in the window had a ridiculously-overworked bodice.  A Gaultier cone bra would have been more subtle.  A tube top on a trampoline would have been more inconspicuous.  A T-shirt with two iron-on fried eggs decals would have been more demure.

Are women so desperate for attention that they need to wear clothing that screams “Check out my rack!”?  Enough with the ruching and the pin tucks and the sequins and the appliques and the empire waists and the smocking.  Enough with the breast implants, too.

I’m all for sex appeal, but women need to realize that they’re more than just the sum of their parts — it’s 2008, for Zob’s sake!  When you measure your success in life by how many times a stranger stares at your boobs in a day, you have no life.

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April 13, 2008 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Trend Warning

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The word “effortless”

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Rachel Zoe

Rachel Zoe

“Effortless” is one of those words that gets on my nerves like fingernails on a blackboard.  Fashion isn’t effortless.  Style doesn’t come that easily.  Looking good takes a lot of work.

First of all, you need to put some effort into those things that many people take for granted, like washing your face or brushing your teeth.  Occasionally, the pendulum swings the other way, and being smelly and gross becomes de rigueur, but that’s usually a short-lived trend.  Smelly, gross people might look good in a Nylon editorial spread.  In-person, however, it’s a different story.

Next, you have to put some effort into maintaining your body.  Fashion always favors the fit.  Take Karl Lagerfeld, for example.  Now that he’s dropped a few pounds, he’s even more iconic than ever.  Yes, heavier people can be fit and gorgeous, too — don’t start posting nasty comments on my site because I mentioned that weight-loss can be healthy.  Still, vitality is one of those things that never goes out of style.  Whatever your body looks like, clean-living and a healthy lifestyle do begin to supersede style as you age.  Living that lifestyle takes plenty of effort.

Finally, there’s fashion itself.  People who live and breathe fashion have put a lot of effort into honing their craft.  If they get out of bed looking gorgeous it’s because they’ve put in the time to look gorgeous.  That good haircut didn’t just happen.  Those eyes look fresh because they’ve seen some sleep.  That walk to the closet to get dressed was graceful because someone was listening when they were told to stand up straight.  And that outfit is drop-dead gorgeous because the woman wearing it has been reading fashion magazines for twenty years, and she knows how to put things together innately.  It might be second nature now, but it sure took a lot of effort to make it look effortless.

So, when you hear an over-processed piece of work like Rachel Zoe mention “effortless style”, do me a favor and tell her to shut her fat hole.

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April 12, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Posted in Things I Loathe

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Eccentric Glamour: The Preview to the Review

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Eccentric Glamour

I haven’t read this book yet, so I really can’t review it.  But Fashion Wire Daily posted a story about it.

I love FWD.  It’s like Fashion File, only with 99% less Adrian Mainella-style ass-kissing.  Like her cohort, Godfrey Deeny, Renata Espinosa reports on fashion when she’s supposed to be reporting on fashion.  She reviews collections when she’s supposed to be writing reviews.  There’s no fawning over designers and stroking of already-inflated egos.

The story she wrote about Doonan’s book launch was exactly that: A story about his book launch.  Doonan is exceptionally clever.  Nevertheless, Espinosa was able to squeeze a few memorable quotes out of the author, including this one:

“The goal is really to say no to ‘ho, and yes to eccentric glamour,” said Doonan in between air kisses and photographs. “It’s about saddling the porno trend. The slut trend is so ubiquitous and so huge, that people don’t even see it anymore. Dressing like an eighties porn star is like the norm now for women who have a makeover.”

You wouldn’t read this review anywhere else.  I’m not sure what delights me more, though: Simon Doonan’s way with words, or Renata Espinosa’s way with the wordy.  Don’t make me choose.

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April 11, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Posted in Random Reviews