Friday, January 30, 2009

Mrs. Mia Wallace

Mia Wallace is one of my favorite cinematic characters of all time.

If I were to judge by the white-shirted, black-bobbed models backstage at his show, it looks like Armani may share that sentiment...

Photo by Greg Kessler for

Yes, It Is True.

Maira Kalman's beautifully illustrated storytelling of her inauguration day memories finally made it all sink in. We have a President named Barack Hussien Obama. That President is biracial. He is a realisitic optimist. His intelligence is broad, used considerately, and palpable. He can dance. I look at him dance with his wife and believe he loves her; can feel that love and hope for it. We have a new President that I, as a young person in America, can be proud to say is the leader of my country. We have a President who is the frequent subject of street art, really good street art. We have a President named Barack Obama who is not an old, white, man. Wow.

And, he looks damn good in a suit. There, now that revelation is fashion-related. Read Maira's entire, amazing piece over at The New York Times website.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

One/One-Thousand: Steven Meisel

The word iconic doesn't even cover photographer Steven Meisel's status in the fashion world. He's a legend; a slightly mysterious, super-talented legend. He's launched a thousand models' careers via his work, especially the covers he's shot for Italian Vogue. He's also been one of Madonna's most significant image makers and a consummate industry tastemaker. His style is varied but has a flair for the dramatic. His shoot for Vogue which filled an oh-so-chic rehab center with beautiful models was brilliant. Here's a taste of his past work and examples of why he's still going strong:

Click any image for source information.

Monument To A Shoe-In (The Head)

Iraqi orphans in the war-torn city of Tikrit helped sculptor Laith al-Amiri create a monument to the journalist who threw a shoe at FORMER (Yay!!!!) President Bush's head last year.

It's a bronze-looking, giant replica of the actual Turkish loafer that was tossed at that strange, empty-seeming noggin. I sort of wish they hurled a six-inch stiletto with a spike heel. Check out more details over at a fave site of mine, Guanabee.

Photo from

Beauty, Writ Large

Jean Paul Gaultier is an institution and his recent collections have felt historic--in a way. They've seemed a bit stuck in his hey day of the late '80s/early '90s. But this season's couture show is phenomenal. The flourish of the calligrapher's pen, with it's inky black lines and unfurling curls is the clear inspiration behind his gorgeous dresses and pantsuits. From the minute crisscross of a frequently used netted material, to the grand swirls of neck pieces, the designs go from sharp lines to loops and back again. The lines also seem to reference the black tape that couturiers use to establish the draping on dress forms, bringing the designer's process to the surface. Gaultier's corset-minded wear has always been showy about its underpinnings, but seeing these dresses with their structures and bustles and stuffing on clear display is like an education in dress building. But nothing is too technical, there is a nice balance of romance to center the pointed stiffness. I love this show. Here are some money shots (I swear couture closeups are practically pornographic to me. TMI? Hope not...):

Love it. I wish the hair and makeup were a bit more flattering and a little less concepty, but the garments are both interesting and gorgeous. This is shaping up to be a strong couture season. Just when you think it's down and out, up it comes!

Photos by Alessandro Lucioni/ Imax Tree and Mateo Volta/ Imax Tree via

Proud Tina Keep On Burning

I love this video. This is actually a favorite dance routine of mine to bust out at parties. There's never a dull moment with this one under your belt.

How hot do Tina and her dancers look? You know what? She still looks that good.

Sally Sells Shoe Shells By the Couture

I'm loving these white bead encrusted heels from Valentino.

They remind me of these gorgeous white domed sea shells I found on the beach in Rincon last week. So pretty.

Photo via

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mine too...

When I was five I wanted to be Madonna's best friend, accepting payment in lace gloves and rubber bracelets only. That, or I wanted to finger paint professionally. Seeing as we're in the middle of financial Armageddon, maybe I could get back to those childhood dreams. I hear the Objective section of my resume calling...

Click the shirt to get one of your own from

He Rocks The Paper And Scissors

In couture there is this paper thin line to be walked between spectacle and serenity, between indulgence and restraint, between luxury and elegance. The ability to tread that thread of a line is what separates the brilliant from the rest. It is the same process in any successful artwork: make something beautiful, make it interesting, push some boundaries, and reach a level of newness that creates space and thought. Do it all in a way that makes the finished product look effortless and simple; natural and approachable, yet impeccable.

Karl Lagerfeld's collections for Chanel couture do that. They do that thing that makes even the most classic, time-proven shapes and pieces come alive anew again season after season. In pop culture terms, he keeps a storied house's main lineage visible enough to qualify as timeless, but makes it innovative and fresh enough to slide right onto the backs of the hottest young things in the flashbulb saturated entertainment world. He's got the game down and he manages to draft the most brilliant players onto his team. Aside from his uber-talented seamstresses, for this spin around the fashion wheel Karl worked with Katsuya Kamo, the genius hair and makeup designer who's creations are unparalleled in their power to turn simple materials into beauty.

For his collaboration with Chanel this season, Kamo's team took scissors to paper and snipped, cut, and shaped the simple raw material into blooms, thorns, twists, spikes and poufs of headdresses and set decor. The results are gorgeous and compliment the seamstresses' craftwork completely. Well done.

Photos by Alessandro Lucioni/ Imax Tree (full images), and Mateo Volta/ Imax Tree (details) via

Cheap Thrill: Dreaming

Ever since I met a brother and sister pair in the subway named Debbie and Harry (no joke, parents were major fans) the other day, my head has been absolutely swimming with Blondie songs, and it's worked wonders for my mood. In an effort to keep y'all happy and shiny in the face of projected nationwide pennilessness, I present the sage words of one of pop culture's most significant peroxide-tressed pop stars, Miss Deborah Harry: "Dreaming, dreaming is free..." I think that could be all we need to know in life. So, here's a recipe for happy: Watch this video of Debbie in a boob-baring teal number until it makes you smile, which I don't think will take very long.

Then rinse and repeat until you are dancing. Happy for free?! Yes, we can.

Good To The Last Drop

Today is Jackson Pollock's birthday. He's the guy who splattered, dripped, dropped, drizzled, and poured latex house paint onto canvases and revolutionized painting. He's the one who poked people with a painting stick and made them wonder why this simple, nearly silly idea was making them feel so funny about the world. To celebrate the late, grate get yourself a cool-as-anything girlie tee with Pollock's likeness and splatterness printed on the front from Herman Lee over on

Supplies are extremely limited (maybe the artist can be coaxed into another printing round??) so hurry. If you can't get a tee, you can still get a little Pollock fix. Watch him do his thing:

Want to another way to celebrate? Get your own Pollock on and drop some virtual paint onto a virtual canvas. Fun.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hair Apparent

I'm not crazy about Galliano's new couture collection for Dior. He's gone all Dutch on us. While I can never knock his immensely impressive craftsmanship and his "dream my little dream" fantasy mentality, I suppose my fashion dreams just don't involve stiff, overstuffed Flemish Master Painter-inspired gowns because I'm not feeling this collection.

It reminds me a bit too much of stuffy living room upholstery, and giant window treatments. You know what I do love, though? The hair:

I know, it's crazy. It's a lion's mane of crimped tresses all sewn through with string and braided in corn rows. It seems to be showing the underpinnings of a wigged woman, the behind the scenes, undone state of something meant to be more pristine. I love it. See, that makes it into my fantasy land. Big hair does it for me. Something undone does it for me.

Photos: full body: Alessandro Lucioni/Imax Tree; details: Matteo Volta/Imax Tree; all via

Common Goods: Swimmingly

This is the single most glamorous shot of beach attire I've ever seen.

Those are some 1890s-era kids visiting the sea. I doubt they were there to swim, but doesn't that hat on the little Cate Blanchett lookalike make you yearn for fancy beach dress code? Maybe just once a year, or something. It would save us from having to see too much flesh coming out of too little spandex. Plus, they look like such little precursors to modern fashion shoots, those exercises in non-functional sartorial beauty. I love it.

This photo comes from the National Media Museum's photostream over at Flickr's Commons. Be sure to check out the rest of their stellar early photography collection.

Built By Armani

The '30s are here again. Maybe it's the economic mood, maybe the very real limitations of materials and skilled labor that are reoccurring, maybe simple nostalgia for a time of hardship and perseverance are all pushing the decade up through the many layers of our cultural conscience and bringing it flush to the surface. Whatever it is, I have to say I'm excited to see it. The focus on draping, on tailoring, on minimalism and structure, rather than flounce and too much indulgence, are refreshing. Pare down and suit up. That seems to be the M.O. and is clearly the message of Armani Prive's couture collection.

Strong angles, shapely shoulders, fitted silhouettes, structure; it all leads to a sense of solid stability, of strength and forward motion. The odd tassel, the Eastern prints, the cuffs-as-weaponry action; they all make for an economically decorated new power uniform for the monied set. I'm loving the black bobs.

Flattering, simple, DIY even. Put a bowl on your head and cut around it. That's a cost-cutting hair style right there.

Fancy Timing

Couture is coming, couture is coming! That's the battle cry of the economically downturned. The custom-made, hand-sewn-by-French-ladies, high-cost, luxury-wear Spring 2009 Season is here. How strange, right? Yesterday 75,000 people lost their jobs and today there are slideshows up of outfits that sell for easily more than what a good portion of the population brings home in a year. Part of me wants to resist looking at it, thinking about it, writing about it. Part of me wants to yell at the designers with the nerve to go on with their frivolous, overdone ideas, their gaudy shows of spectacle and wealth. Then I got to thinking: I could never afford couture, couldn't have before and definitely can't now, and there will always be someone who can afford it. That is the way of our capitalist world. So, rather than sit and stew in resentment or throw eye darts at the stomping models catwalking down my computer screen, I'm going to focus on the beauty of it all, the fantasy, the escape, just like I always have. Things themselves don't make me happy, but looking at things, appreciating them, admiring their craft, their aesthetics, their shape, color, size, that all makes me happy. Super happy, in fact. So, on with the show. Just like old times.

Monday, January 26, 2009

SAG Surfing

I used to be an awards show junkie. I feel like a trader to my fashionista generation, but I'm now easily bored by the overhype of it all. I do love a good red carpet parade, but as I've said a few times before, there is something so predictable about awards show fashion these past few years. The so-done, so-perfect looks are pretty, but not so exciting. Plus, how many butt-kiss fests do we need for celebs? I say they should be forced to bring school teachers as their dates, or EMT workers, or maybe the maids at their hotels. At least to one or two of the bajillion shows. It should be part of their SAG contracts.

Anywho...the SAGs are actually one of my favorite shows of the bunch. There is a softer, more relaxed vibe that often translates into the dress choices on display. I'm really loving the 1930s/40s tailoring and classic silver screen hair and makeup that's the look du jour. Starlets abounded last night...

Rosario Dawson dazzled in a draped ivory column and ruby lips.

Kate Winslet's blue was beautiful and her makeup was glowing.

I have to say that Evan Rachel Wood looked good, really good. The Dita double is usually not a fave of mine, but I'm loving the purple purse and shoes and the firefly brooch, and that color? Great with her new red hair.

I love, love, loved America's dark red manicure. Vampalicious.

Angelina is stunning. I know, that is the obvious statement of the century, but it always kind of surprises me to see her and register that even in what at first appears to be a shapeless, navy, simple frock of a dress, she looks great. Then, she turns around and the sexiness just slides right down her tattooed back and rises from her red-soled, nude, arched heels. Very nice.

Ok, so all of the above commentary, while true and heartfelt, feels a bit canned. You'll probably see the same pics and comments on every fashion blog. While I was combing for SAG pics I found myself more interested in what was happening behind the starlets. Here's some of the backround bits that made my morning:

America gets the finger from some headsetted handler...

...and then gets the "Mmmm, I'd hit it!" overerbite look from some suit behind her.

Anne Hathaway classes up the redtie rent-a-tux in this frame. Nice matching cumberbund, man. Nice.

I think this is Julia Ormond, but honestly I'm too distracted by the Pink Caped Crusader behind her to really concentrate enough to tell. That is amazing!

You've gotta love a good Bat Mitzvah DJ Suit. White suspenders and a white tie against all black? What time is the "Electric Slide"? I never miss it.

There, now I feel better.

Photos from Getty Images and Just Jared.