Auntie Fashion

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

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Prada: A Few More Words

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Prada

Prada

Last year at this time I posted that I had a feeling the American west would soon start to influence fashion. About six months later, Etro put on a menswear show that was rooted in classic fifties and sixties cowboy clothes: the kind you would have seen worn by Faron Young at the Grand Ol’ Opry.  This season, Versace has already staged a cowboy-themed show and now Prada is dripping with the details that defined this style.

The patch pockets, piping, sharp shoulders, sculpted lapels and the occasional stacked-pockets on the jackets take me back to the time when the gentleman cowboy was an archetype of pop culture.  As usual, Miuccia Prada managed to obscure the commercial elements of the collection with some horrid quilted vests that no one will want to wear, but she always does that.  Nevertheless, the bones of the collection were there.  I always see her influencing the shapes of fashion more than the themes of fashion.

It’s interesting that cowboys are showing up on the Milan runways first, but I guess it’s the land of spaghetti westerns.  On that note, I’m craving spaghetti.  I’ll get back to reviewing the shows soon.

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January 13, 2014 at 5:56 pm

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London Menswear: A Few More Words

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Diesel Black Gold

Diesel Black Gold

Words cannot express how pleased I was with the F/W 2014 London Menswear shows!  I’m just about to dive into Milan, but I have a feeling that no other city is going to be able to one-up London this season.

Three shows in particular stood out for me because they made me want to get into stores to see the clothes up close and in person.  The only other outcome better than that is when I put down some cold, hard cash to buy the clothes I see on a runway.  Forget all the nice words, all the cultural relevance, all the so-called “art of fashion,” if no one is going to drop a dime on these garments, what was the point?

And that takes me to Diesel Black Gold, as seen in the photo above.  That’s one terrific rock star look!   It’s too bad that’s who is going to wear it: whatever member of One Direction gets it given to them for free.  It looks like Balmain’s bastard cousin.  Maybe it’ll generate some interest in the label, but it won’t pay the bills if it doesn’t sell, sell, sell.

But I digress!  Back to my three favorite shows.  I loved Casely-Hayford for its strong tailoring and odd details.  I loved E. Tautz for its dandy presentation that will still manage to have major hanger-appeal when it makes it to retail.  And I loved KTZ because Marjan Pejoski virtually slapped Rick Owens across the face and screamed “THIS IS HOW YOU PUT ON A FASHION SHOW!”  And that came from the guy who made Bjork’s swan dress.

London, you never fail to surprise me!

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January 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm

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New York’s Best Show

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Anna Sui

During the F/W 2010 show season, I named Anna Sui’s presentation as New York’s best show.  I’m going to do it again this season.

Anna Sui is a national treasure.  In his review of the 2010 show, Tim Blanks of style.com called Sui “New York’s most underrated designer.”  I agree wholeheartedly.  Not only was the organized cacaphony of the runway show a reminder to critics that maximalism wasn’t dead, it was a precursor to the organized chaos trend that every single fashion magazine has been hyping like crazy throughout 2012.

During the same season, Marc Jacobs presented this collection.  It was a dud to me then and it was a dud to me now.  Yet Jacobs, as usual, elicited the highest praise from his so-called critics.  “He’s always directional!”  “He sets the trends!”  Give me a break!  That show was terrible.  And unlike Anna Sui’s collection, it went nowhere.

Now I don’t hate everything Jacobs does.  I’m actually going to name his presentation for Marc this season as New York’s second-best show.  Like Sui, Jacobs had his head in the early 80s.  His was a little more “Cruel Summer,” though, whereas hers was more “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.”  I’d normally not gush over a couple of shows with such a retro vibe, but in this case both gave me what I wanted to see: fashion-savvy downtown girls who don’t run around in high heels and cocktail dresses.  It was a refreshing change of pace.

The greatest thing about the show, though, was that it provided a unique twist upon styling that will resonate with young women everywhere while still providing a vast assortment of individual pieces that have the hanger-appeal necessary to sell a collection in today’s marketplace.  I can see girls I know engaging in hand-to-hand combat to be the first to own the jumpsuit that Karlie Kloss wore to open the show.  I can see every jeanswear manufacturer looking at the fresh, unworked denim and thinking “this is where we need to go!”  And I can see the 3/4 mesh T-shirts and 3/4 tights becoming the rage on the street.  Even with Sui’s trademark baby-doll silhouette making several appearances (a shape I would personally avoid like the plague), it read as a completely novel, necessary change of pace.

It was a brilliant, distinctive moment in an otherwise dull season where almost every other designer showing in New York wanted to be Mary Katrantzou, or Michael van der Ham, or Christopher Kane, or (insert London Designer here).  Except for a few shows where a hint of modern athleticism caught my eye, I couldn’t have been more bored.

Thank Zob for Anna Sui!

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September 15, 2012 at 4:30 pm

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Girl Panic: The Review

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Girl Panic

There’s nothing more your old Auntie likes than (A) supermodels and (B) saying “I told you so.”  So let me start off my review of Duran Duran’s much-hyped video for “Girl Panic” by warning you that I’m going to use this opportunity to wax nostalgic over the glory days of supermodels while explaining how this review is actually the culmination of everything I’ve been telling you for the past few months.  Vindication is mine!

“Girl Panic” stars Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigova, Helena Christensen and Yasmin Lebon.  The concept was clever: have the models pretend to be the members of Duran Duran while they’re being interviewed documentary-style by a crew that even includes real members of the band.  Unfortunately, the director of the video beat the concept into the ground.  It wasn’t clever enough to sustain the epic length of “Girl Panic” and the novelty wears thin long before the video is over.

Where the video really fails, however, is in its attempt to recreate any of the magic of George Michaels‘ iconic video for “Freedom 90.”  What makes Michaels’ video stand alone more than twenty years after its debut is its insouciance toward the business of fashion itself.  It became the most-fashionable music video in the history of the genre without trying to sell its audience anything more than style.  Where “Girl Panic” becomes a commercial for the clothes, “Freedom 90” celebrates the ability of the artist to remove himself entirely from the world of fashion.  Sure, the most fashionable women in the world were featured in the video, but as representatives of timeless beauty rather than fashion.  There’s not a single recognizable garment in “Freedom 90.”  I lost count of the runway clothes I recognized in “Girl Panic.”

The differences between these two videos represents the huge gulf between me and the fashion-world-at-large in 2011.  I see style in every frame of the film of the “Freedom 90” video, and I see fashion in every frame of “Girl Panic.”  The former is the Venus de Milo of its genre; the latter is the star-studded, Superbowl half-time commercial extravaganza.  The former is Diana Vreeland for “Vogue“; the latter is Hal Rubenstein for “InStyle.”  Need I go on?

I’ll stick to the classics, thanks.

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November 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm

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A Few More Words . . .

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Kenzo

I’m breaking from my three-word runway review format for a moment to discuss the Kenzo show.  It was like watching a retrospective of all the greatest hits from this week’s previous menswear shows.

There were rolled-up jeans, brightly-colored leather shoes and nautical stripes ca. 1983, like at Band of Outsiders, only better:

Kenzo

There were floral print blazers like at Moschino, yet shown in a context that toned down the kitsch a notch without dropping it altogether:

Kenzo

The dark socks with shorts and campy bowling shirts from Prada were on the runway, too:

Kenzo

The retro Versace prints from D&G were present, as well, only at Kenzo they spoke of a time in the mid-eighties before Gianni Versace had become a parody of himself:

Kenzo

Even the tropical prints from the Givenchy show made an appearance, only this time displayed in a way that a man might wear them without appearing as if he was an extra in Debbie Gibson’s video for “Electric Youth“:

Kenzo

The entire show was fun, lively and — above all — masculine enough to sell to men and fashionable enough to appeal to non-men.  It took me back to the time of Willi Smith when I needed a healthy dose of optimism and a reminder that fashion doesn’t need to be serious to be taken seriously.  There are still a few more shows to watch, but I doubt I’ll see a more current, more exuberant menswear presentation this season.

In just three words, it was delightful.

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June 26, 2011 at 3:47 pm

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Resort Shows Over: Vacation Needed

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Giorgio Armani

Well, I haven’t been reviewing that many resort shows because THERE ARE TOO MANY OF THEM.  No wonder most fashion writers look so haggard: schlepping around the globe following the shows must be exhausting.  While I’m constantly complaining about not having the opportunity to see the shows in-person, I should be grateful because I don’t have the undereye bags of many of my critical counterparts.  Whoops — did I type that?

Anyway, my favorite presentation of the 2012 Resort season was the gorgeous lookbook that Giorgio Armani used to reveal his collection.  At first I thought I was looking at an homage to 1950s fashion illustration.  And then I clicked on the image to discover that I was looking at photographs of the actual collection.  Kudos to whoever put some of the sharpest, most-modern silhouettes I’ve seen in ages in a context that first made me believe that they were sketches.  I love to be challenged by fashion without feeling as if someone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes, and this graphic collaboration was pure genius.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to forget about fashion shows for a few days.  I’m going to get drunk.

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June 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm

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Hell Freezes Over

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Louis Vuitton

Earlier today I posted a three-word runway review (as is the custom on my blog) of Marc Jacobs’ Resort 2012 show.  I was so amazed by one spectacular ensemble that I didn’t really discuss anything else in the show.  However, readers of my blog might remember that last year at this time I gave the designer’s resort collection a relatively glowing review.  This year I also thought that I was viewing some of Jacobs’ best work.  Shocking, huh?

Yet nothing could prepare me for the shock when I clicked onto the vogue.com site just a moment ago to view the Louis Vuitton Resort 2012 presentation.  The clothes were lovely — not only flattering the model who wore them, but also appearing to be prohibitively expensive.  It was almost as if a designer for a luxury brand had sewn his name onto the labels!

In my last post about Jacobs I joked that I was going to start liking him just because he’s not as cool as he used to be.  With two collections that actually put a smile on the face of this old sourpuss in the same day, maybe I am going to start liking him.

Yes, hell has frozen over.  You read it here first.

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June 9, 2011 at 2:25 am

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