Saturday, January 31, 2009

even coutouriers are desperate for job security

I'm currently getting away from it all, spending the weekend in Lutsen, MN, just off Lake Superior. The view is breathtaking. Our cabin overlooks the water, and the surrounding fir trees are white with snow, a regiment of icy stalagmites. This morning I ate breakfast while looking out over the rocky shore. And as I gazed out of the enormous picture window, snuggly wrapped in a cashmere cardigan and holding a hot mug of freshly brewed coffee, I couldn't help but wonder...
What the eff is going on with Valentino?

After Valentino Garavani's retirement, Alessandra Facchinetti took over, designing only for two seasons. I loved her fresh take on the classic brand, referencing its origins while moving in a new direction. But Valentino Garavani thought she had strayed too far from his original vision, and she was unceremoniously outed in one of the most dramatic dismissals in the fashion industry in recent years. She was replaced by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, Valentino's long-time accessory designers. This week's couture show was the pair's much-anticipated debut, and though Valentino himself praised the collection, I found it completely underwhelming.

Probably afraid to rock the boat after Facchinetti's dismissal and Valentino's petty jabs at her in the press, Chiuri and Piccioli stuck closely to the classic Valentino look, creating a collection that was almost a recreation of the house's archives. Bows? Check. Rosettes? Check. Multiple shades of red? Ladylike coats? Inoffensive evening gowns? Check. Check. Check. Though the collection was refined and well-made, it seemed a step backward for the house. The presentation lacked the drama of a couture show, which begs the question: If not for drama, why do couture at all? As for Chiuri and Piccioli, I think they have a lot of talent and a great point of view. The question is, will they feel that they have the freedom to express themselves, or will they be too worried about the shadow of Valentino Garavani?


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

fuck the economy

I will not let you ruin couture week, stupid recession.

Christian Lacroix Spring Couture

karl's paper garden

Chanel Couture Spring 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

sew buttons

as american as pomegranate pie

Marc Jacobs Spring 2009 featuring Raquel Zimmerman and shot by Juergen Teller

fashion mixtape: volume 3

It's time for another edition of Fashion Mixtape, in which I take on the tremendous challenge of picking out an outfit, guest blogger Kate makes a playlist to go along with it, and I try to say something clever. Usually, failing miserably.

Marc Jacobs. In a man skirt. Though it wasn't on Kate's playlist, I'm going to have to throw out The Kinks "Lola," because it's one of my childhood favorites, and I think gender bending in any shape or form demands a few plays of that song. I kind of love the man skirt with gladiator sandals (or tailored suit with high heels!) thing Marc's been doing lately. It's not exactly the most controversial idea anymore. I mean, Dear Abby has embraced it. But even if I weren't a fan, it's Marc Jacobs. As long as he keeps producing mouse flats and Juergen Teller ads, he can wear whatever the hell he wants.

Blur "Boys and Girls"
Amy Winehouse "Addicted"
The Proclaimers "500 Miles"
Warren Zevon "Lawyers, Guns, and Money"
Babes in Toyland "He's My Thing"

it's the most wonderful time of the year

It's couture season! Recession de damned!

The underskirt of this Dior gown is a perfect match to an antique porcelain bleeding bowl that I almost bought two years ago. For those who haven't seen Sense and Sensibility, a bleeding bowl is a porcelain, brass, or pewter dish that was used in the highly scientific process of blood letting. You know, when you cut someone's arm open so that they can bleed out their pneumonia. Pretty high on drama. Questionable success rate.

a pretty example, courtesy of l'internet

The bleeding bowl is a round shallow dish with an indentation along one side for the patient's arm to rest. The blood would then collect in the bowl throughout the process, and I assume would be disposed of afterwards. Though those crazy Brits really love their blood pudding. I really wanted a bleeding bowl to hold jewelry or candy, so that whenever people asked me about the strange indentation on the side, I could let them know it was for bleeding out winter colds. I just thought there was something so wonderfully morbid and sick about that. I'm currently hunting for one, and this couture gown will always remind me of the perfect one that got away.

Monday, January 26, 2009

behold the reign of the one-shoulder gown

Oh, SAG fashion. Not as boring as this year's Golden Globes fashion, but still, a little boring. Seriously, how many one-shoulder gowns can show up on the red carpet in one day? I know that Michelle Obama's inaugurational dress was beyond awesome, but that doesn't mean we all need to step out tomorrow in the exact same cut. Let's try and have a bit more variety, shall we? And since everyone in Hollywood seems to use the same five stylists, perhaps a little more communication between the stylists before the event?

January Jones was one of my favorites at the Golden Globes (though I wish she'd worn the belt that was shown on that dress on the Versace runway), and she was my absolute favorite last night. The embellishments on her Andrew Gn gown are gorgeous, and I love that she wore a black gown that wasn't in any way basic or boring. I just wish she'd worn her hair up. I think that a dramatic, voluminous upsweep would have been very Cleopatra-esque, and shown off the details on her dress even more.

Anne Hathaway's Azzaro gown is kind of the reverse of January Jones' gown. I love the column shape and the gathering on the bodice. The draping of this gown isn't the most forgiving (no matter how in shape you are), so I'm going to go ahead and use this dress as a celebrity endorsement for proper foundation garments. Namely Spanx. Hopefully Beyoncé will get the message.

I'll admit that the David Meister gown that Viola Davis wore wasn't my favorite--there's nothing wrong with it, the one shoulder-dresses are just starting to blur together-- but I had to include her because her styling was amazing. Her hair and makeup were flawless (even in the tight close-ups), the butter hue of her dress looked phenomenal against her skin, and she had such a radiant smile in all of her photographs. It's amazing how much a genuine smile makes people stand out on the red carpet. The Renée Zellweger pinch and the Olsen twin duck lips just don't do it for me.

Freida Pinto looks amazing in this Marchesa gown. I don't find the cut or the style particularly exciting, but the color. Wow. Freida wore an amazing mustard shade at the Golden Globes, so I'm curious to see what color she'll settle on for the Academy Awards.

Evan Rachel Wood: still embracing the pale and gradually moving away from SWFing Dita von Teese. These are good things. I'm usually not a big Monique Lhuillier fan, but I love this deep navy gown. I've tried to explain to a few friends how for me to truly love a navy, it has to contain a little bit of green. And I never have a handy reference. Now I do. This is exactly what I was talking about. It's also the only one-shoulder gown of the evening that I truly loved.

Katie Holmes looked classic and sophisticated in this Jil Sander sheath (the cutouts were modified, so it's a little different from the runway version). It's far more casual than the other offerings, but I don't think that she actually walked the red carpet. She presented the Outstanding Actor Award to Sean Penn. Which leads me to my next question: Why was Katie Holmes presenting the Outstanding Actor SAG Award? If it's just because she looks great in Roland Mouret dresses, then I demand that Posh gets to present an award next year.

It seems that I'm as bored of Angelina, as Angelina is of trying. She wore this (already kind of boring) Max Azria dress backwards. I guess the plunging neckline was too risqué for our Angie. I miss pre-Brad Pitt Angelina Jolie. Remember the vial of blood? The controversial sibling kiss? Those extra ten pounds? Pre-Brad Pitt Angelina would kick Current Angelina's ass, hold a knife up to her throat, and then make out with her. That's how I like my movie stars. With a great big side of crazy.

le gossip

One of my best friends works at the National Gallery in DC. She has one of those amazing jobs in conservation and restoration that requires her to fly out to Italy for a week so that she can escort a few paintings back to the gallery. Not only does this mean a behind the scenes tour when I go out there for the Cherry Blossom Festival (I'm still despondent that I didn't visit her in Los Angeles to take advantage of the same treatment at the Getty), it also means that I'm occasionally privy to juicy bits of gossip from the national and international art community. So with her permission, I'd like to share a story that confirms what many already suspected: Mrs. Cheney is kind of awful.

The National Gallery is constantly lending out paintings to federal buildings. Nothing first-tier (they'd like to keep their da Vincis in house, thank you very much), only second- and third-tier paintings. So a pretty great perk of being elected to executive office is that you'll be provided a pre-selected list of paintings, and you get to choose which you would like to bedeck the walls of your offices during your term. The last few months of my friend's job have been spent cataloguing and examining paintings returned by the Bush Administration, and helping to provide the same service to the Obama administration (who, apparently, have great contemporary taste).

There was a particular painting of a young girl by Lydia Field Emmet (an American artist best known for portraits) that Mrs. Cheney had wanted to hang in her office. For conservation purposes, all the paintings that the National Gallery lend out are covered in UV-protective glass, and the locations where they are hung must have the gallery's approval (avoid indirect sunlight, exterior walls, etc). Mrs. Cheney made such a fuss about the glass that they finally broke down and let her hang the Emmet piece without protective covering, as long as it was hung in the safe location that they'd approved. Unbeknownst to them, Mrs. Cheney later moved the painting into another room IN FRONT OF A WINDOW. For years the painting was exposed to sunlight on a daily basis. When it was returned to the gallery, the canvas was slack, the corners were drawn, and paint on the edges was beginning to flake. A mess. Mrs. Cheney (who'd already been difficult enough when selecting the piece) refused to take any responsibility. So now, let's just hope our nation's finest conservators can save this historic piece.

Please, treat art with respect.

Friday, January 23, 2009

some like it not

Yes, I just made that ill-advised Marilyn Monroe movie title pun. Some Like It Hot is one of my all-time favorite movies. ("Nobody's perfect." Best closing line of a film. Ever.) And I've practically worn out my VHS copies of The Seven Year Itch and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, marking myself as a pretty big Marilyn Monroe fan (Jane Russell, too, but I digress). And I get why celebrities, advertisers, and stylists want to channel her. She's a beauty icon and screen goddess who met a tragic end, securing her status in film and pop culture mythology. But how many Monroe-inspired ad campaigns and editorials do we really need?

I loved the Kate Moss editorial "Performance" in the April 2006 issue of W, but was it really necessary for Drew Barrymore and Katherine Heigl to attempt her famous hairstyle on the red carpet? It just aged them and made them appear horribly dated. And who thought it was such a good idea for Lindsay Lohan to recreate "The Last Sitting" for New York Magazine (and to design a line of leggings named 6126, for Monroe's birthday)? Madonna and Nicole Kidman have gotten a good run out of "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend," and Anna Nicole Smith's Guess ads practically exhausted our Monroe fascination in the 90s. And now Scarlett Johansson is starring as a Marilyn replica in the new campaign for D&G Cosmetics. Is anyone else underwhelmed?

I mean, it's pretty, but it's been done. Throw in the D&G/Giorgio Armani drama, Johansson's unnecessary album of Tom Waits covers, and my exhaustion of celebrities mistaking "looks like she's on Percocet" for "sultry" (Doesn't anyone pay attention to Tyra Banks? Dead eyes are the enemy!), and I just couldn't care less about the advertising images from D&G's cosmetics line. You bore me, Domenico and Stefano. And I grow weary of your posturing, Scarlett.

And I'm pretty sure Marilyn Monroe wouldn't have been caught dead in this lipstick.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

i buckled

Or perhaps I should say, I snapped. Ha, see what I did there? Because the hardware is a snap, not a buckle? Sorry. Anyway, after Chloe mentioned that the Hayden-Harnett bag in the color I wanted was out of stock online, I got more than a little nervous. So on a recent Target run, when I saw a last single Double Flap Bag in brown hanging precariously from a display rack, I panicked. I grabbed that sucker, clutched it to my chest, and ran for the register as fast as my slushy slippery Vans could carry me. And now it's safely tucked away on a shelf in my bedroom, where neither my pet cats nor my pet rats can get to it. Sadly, I cannot say the same for my favorite Miu Miu dress, which Bunnicula and Forest Whitaker (the aforementioned rats) totally ate. Sometimes I use its tattered remains to wipe away the tears. Sniffle.

So a big thank you to Chloe for the heads up, as well as for mentioning Inauguration Beyonce's distracting lack of appropriate foundation garments. When I first saw the video and photographs, I was like, I can see nipple, right? I'm not being crazy, am I? Am I only seeing nipple because I'm looking for nipple? Maybe just incredibly unfortunate shadows?

Seriously, dude. Nipple.

fashion mixtape: volume 2

Bienvenue à la deuxième édition de la Fashion Mixtape, in which I select an outfit that I like, guest blogger Kate creates a matching playlist, and sometimes I write in French for no reason!

Actually, I have a good reason to be writing in French. And his name is Karl. I'm still in love with this Chanel Haute Couture cocktail dress that Keira Knightley wore to a screening of The Duchess last year. The details of the dress are interesting enough on their own, so I'm glad she went minimalist with the accessories. Add some black peep-toe heels, a few layers of black eyeliner, and a sleek chignon, and she could do no wrong.

Outkast featuring Kelis "Dracula's Wedding"
Kim Carnes "Bette Davis Eyes"
The Church "Under the Milky Way Tonight"
Nouvelle Vague "The Killing Moon"
Hot Chocolate "Emma"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

mcq for target

good-looking couples

I really appreciate that Michelle Obama's been wearing so many pieces by less established designers. Because of her influence, Thakoon, Isabel Toledo, and Maria Pinto are becoming household names. And now CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist Jason Wu has his name attached to what will be one of the most visible dresses of 2009.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle in ivory Jason Wu

That is a gorgeous couple. I love a man that can pull off white tie.

And I'm now inspired to share my favorite photo from 2008:

This photograph was on the front page of the Omaha World-Herald's Election Section after Obama's presidential victory. That lovely pair on the center-left is Doris and Gus Shoffner, two of my oldest family friends and neighbors. Look at those smiles. Couple of the year!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

i refuse to make a "holy toledo!" headline

Michelle Obama in Isabel Toledo

something to sing about

What gets random guys to send me drinks at my favorite gay bar's Sunday afternoon musical revue? Knowing the lyrics to all the songs from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Once More With Feeling." Apparently, my rendition of "Something to Sing About" is AMAZING.

fashion mixtape: volume 1

Welcome to the first edition of Fashion Mixtape, in which I select an outfit that I like, and guest blogger Kate creates a playlist (5 or 6 songs) to go with the look.

This photo of Kate Bosworth inspired me to go on a two week Ebay hunt to find an inexpensive pair of red flat leather boots. Unlike Ms. Bosworth's, mine aren't Chloé. But I love them just the same. I also covet her Chloé Saskia Patchwork Pouchette, a bag that I won't be incorporating into my budget anytime soon. The Topshop acid-wash skinny jeans are cute and current, and the overall look is relaxed and casual. Even when wearing multiple of-the-moment items, Kate Bosworth never looks like she's a slave to trends. She makes the trends work on her terms.

Ladyhawke "Back of the Van"
The Promise Ring "Red and Blue Jeans"
Feist "When I was a Young Girl"
The Beach Boys "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times"
Adam Ant "Kings of the Wild Frontier"
Gogol Bordello "60 Revolutions"

kimora lee simmons & djimon hounsou to have very attractive baby

Friday, January 16, 2009

what i'm loving right now

Layers of Feathers: Anne Hathaway in Chanel at the 2008 National Board of Review Gala

Scalloped Edges: Thank You stickers from Mod Farmgirl's Etsy Shop

Loose Waves: Amanda Seyfriend at the Big Love season premiere

Industrial Sparkles: Andréa Stanislav's exhibition"Holiday in the Sun," opening tonight at the Chambers Burnet Gallery