Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Making Magic.

I remember this Chanel commercial from 1992 like it was yesterday. Clear as day, there's Vanessa Paradis swinging, free as a bird, in a golden cage:

And here is how they made it. If you understand French, perfect, if you don't? Even better. Let the language lull you into the lovely space of the visuals.

Wonderful, right?

One/One-Thousand: David Lachapelle

Lachapelle's blazing photo of Alexander McQueen. Nothing is added in digitally, it's all happening.

There's something overexposed about David Lachapelle, but I think it's intentional. His work, his aesthetic has been so used up in current culture that I've avoided profiling him. I thought his look was so over and pop media was as saturated with Lachapelle as his acid-bright color pallet. But then I meandered through the world of Youtube and found this lost Lost promo from the UK, and I was reminded of how his cinematic style is always executed so well, whether he's shooting a TV advert, or a fashion spread.

Lachapelle was an explosion in the '90s. He took fashion photography and cranked all of its knobs up to the max. The colors, the action, the props multiplied like so many bunnies--it was allso incredibly novel and necessary. The Maximalism of the '80s was splashed all over Lachapelle's work, but with an ironic edge that tugged at your laugh lines, and elicited a smirk rather than a sneer. Lachapelle's work was the extacy to the coke (think Guy Bourdain) of the '80s, and the club culture with all of its attendant substances and throbbing beats are where Lachapelle got his start.

A job at Studio 54 led to a meeting with Andy Warhol which led to a permanent spot on the team of Interview Magazine. From there Lachapelle just skyrocketed, and brought his tranny, club-hopping friends with him. His splashy style was perfect for the candy-sweet '90s and his work found a home in Rollingstone Magazine before long.

The standout feature of Chapelle's shots has always been their theatricality. The colors are so loud you can practically hear them, and the sets are works of wonder. Either painted in vibrant hues or stocked with row after row of poppy prop, the environments Chapelle and his talented team create are storytelling tools. A Chapelle portrait is no ordinay celeb snap, it's often an uber-heightened documentation of someone's persona, like when people claim they can photograph your aura. For instance, there's Pamela Anderson and her giant breasts hatching fully formed from a simple egg, there's Gaga surrounded by tiny, plastic bubbles, Madonna dancing in the streets with a block full of motley fans.

David's fashion work for Italian Vogue, I-D, and Delicae Vitae has all the same pop and crazy circumstance. Shoe stories are boltered by bodybuilders, and designer pieces are donned by models made to look like dolls. It's all like a dazzling disco on too much amphetimines, or rather maybe just enough. His style is everywhere, yes, but that too is a testament to his talents. Lachapelle is his own universe, and I love to visit through his photos.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Great Boot Search.

I'm in love with these Banana Republic cement-colored boots. Are they worth a $200 investment? Or do I risk a markdown and get shut out? DILEMA!

I rarely use this blog to complain, but I've gotta get something out. I want to incinerate the entire boot industry and and make them rise again from their own ashes, only this time with affordable, good quality shoes that last! I'm so sick of paying big bucks for boots that have no protection against the snow/salt/sleet/slush that I need them for. Now, I am well aware that there are different classifications of boots: some are water resistant, some are weatherproof, some are none of the above, but I think making a winter boot that is fury and warm and not making them at least watertight is ridiculous. I bought a pair of boots that literally look like I've strapped Eskimos to my calves and they get wet from the bottom up, right through the sole, even in simply damp conditions like walking through a sidewalk cleaning. My shins are real warm but my tootsies are turning to icicles, and they weren't cheap. I call their bull shit!

These cutely detailed grays are $35.00 at Target, but should I really spend another penny on products that won't last?

Listen up Bootmakers, start making practical items that work as good as they look. Start considering your customer and their needs, not just your dollar margins. It backfires on you anyway. I will never buy another pair of shoes from the company that made my fuzzy boots, not even a springy flat, no matter how cute. And, I don't want to pay out my week's budget either. The high quality boots I'm pining after are at least $398. And, I have paid big bucks for boots before that have literally lasted one season and looked chewed up and spit out by the end of it.

These are the Big Kahunas. The Frye boots that I've been pining after. They are a hefty $358.00, but are they worth the investment over time? Damn! If only I was still living at home and waitressing, I could buy those suckers in my sleep. But then I would never get to wear them because I'd be living at home and waitressing...ugh.

I'm at a loss for why there aren't more mid-level options that I don't have to risk life and limb at Leohmann's to procure on sale. Please Booters, I'm begging, send me something warm, wearable, and well-made for about $100. I'll be your best friend!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Swoon Worthy and In Vogue.

Oh dear, I haven't had a crush on a moviestar like this since Kirk Cameron's Bop centerfold was scotch taped to the top of my bunk bed (um, thank God that didn't work out!). I've fallen hard and I can't get up. His name is Sam and he's in a little movie called Avatar; maybe you've heard of it? Here, this is what he looks like:

Ah, a little scruff, a cute smirk, a broodiness. It's all quite amazingly delightful, no? I love his voice too. A little raspy and full of Aussie. Hot. Hot. Hot. Apparently he has fans like me over at Vogue too. He's in the January issue and there's a behind the scenes video of his shoot on their website.

Dapper with a dangerous edge; he's the man of my dreams. I'm in love. Tell me that's not the finest specimen of maleness you've seen in a while. Can't wait for him to come at me in 3D at the IMAX. Ok, I'm done swooning...for now.

Wait! No I'm not. Here's a few more:

Ok, now I'm done.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gear Up.

You ready for this?

First of all, Happy Holidays. Second of all, Happy After-Christmas Shopping Weekend!!! I'm plotting my plan of attack on the finer retail purveyors in NYC and I wanted to share some of my strategies with you, including my perfect Shop 'Til You (Hopefully Don't) Drop outfit. Here are my carefully laid plans:

1) Pre-shop.

I've perused every website of every retail outlet in the friggin' city. The big guns: Gap, Banana, J.Crew, Anthropologie; and the smaller guys. I've looked for three main pieces of information:
a) The extended store hours
i) Are they open at caffeine necessitating times? 5am? 6am?
ii) Are there various opening times for different locations?
iii) Are they offering time-related door busters?

b) The goods.
i) Do they have anything that I would risk a limb for?
ii) Are there items I may have never looked at because of my thin pockets?
iii) Are there already limited sizes and quantities on items I would want?

c) The deals.
i) Is this store worth my exhaustion in dollars saved?
ii) Are there breaks that are only online, or only in-store?
iii) Are there coupons and reduction combos that I can use to my ultimate
advantage for total shopping domination?

2) Be thrilled that it's raining.

Woman up, Ladies! I don't want to hear any bitching about some drizzle. Today the rain is your friend. It is what we hardcore shoppers (apparently I'm now part of a club with lingo...go with it...) call a "weeder." It weeds out the babies literally and figuratively. There will be no weak, whiny shoppers. There will be no mom's with strollers 'cuz their precious little ones would of course melt in the rain. Good! This is good! Let them stay home. Now, don't you even think of grabbing an umbrella. Don't you dare. Tough it out! You'll be inside most of the day anyway. You can get a disposable poncho with a hood, one for every walk between stores. Umbrellas will slow you down. A little sogginess never killed anyone, but not getting a great deal might have.

3) Choose your shopping partners wisely.

These two were a good match. Do you have your Wilma?

Oh, this is no time to humor the weaknesses of others. You need partners in consumption that are strong! Brave! Ready as you are! In all honesty, I say you'd do best to go it alone, unless you have a super ally (like my Ms. Blaire Walsh) who knows more than you do. Feel like you need someone to tell you what looks good? Someone to run purchases by? Baby! Make your own decisions! If you really need to, ask your fellow masses, your co-shoppers. They'll be plenty of them.

4) Dress to Agress.

There are only a few things to consider when you are getting dressed this morning:

a) Simplify: Now is not the time for snaps, buckles, things that wrap, or tie, or need
special buttoning. Keep all of your accouterments easy-on/easy-off.
b) Wear a fitting room: Here's my ultimate tip for avoiding time-sucking dressing
room lines--wear a layerable outfit. This means tights or leggings that you can try
pants on over, a tank under a cardigan that you can try other cardigans or blazers
on over. Wear peds under socks so that you can try on flats in a jiff.
c) Wear your rain boots. Ok, I know I yelled at you before for considering an
umbrella, but you don't want soggy feet, and rain boots are actually slide-
in/slide-out which makes 'em a fast option.

5) Fuel Up.
Don't forget to pack snacks. I'm not kidding. I can't tell you how many shopping trips have turned into torture sessions when my blood sugar dropped to snap-inducing levels. I'm packing energy-rich trailmix. Finger food. I'm also getting my caffeine on. Ain't no time to start that cutting-back-on-coffee resolution. Leave that for the New Year, you need your speed.

Ok. Those are my tips. Go forth and be brave, oh, deal-hunting shoppers. Be brave.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Fetish.

Um, I would love some psychologist's professional opinion on something. All the fine establishments that sell Adult DVDs in this city are decked out for the holidays and they all have sexy Mrs. Claus costumes in the windows. Now, I love Christmas as much as any half Jew who enjoys a big meal and presents with the fam, but I apparently some people really LOVE Christmas. Here, take a look at these get-ups:

Sexy santa-ess (l) and Holly Berry (get it, Halle Berry??) (r).

Some people like to be elves better:

This one is my favorite:

It's A Very Borat Christmas!!!

Boys, you get to dress up too.

Now, I'm no prude and I don't mean to make anyone feel ashamed of their sexy Sanata fantasies, I just can't even begin to imagine any of this not inducing peals of laughter rather than pangs of desire. I'm also endlessly entertained by costume designers' ability to make any theme the sexy whatever. It's hysterical. I blame this particular genre of outfit on the whole go sit on Santa's lap thing. The older I get, the more creeped out I am by the idea.

Wow, did I just put a whole new spin on your Holidays? I hope I didn't ruin anything for you! The only message you have to take from this post is:


I love all y'all faithful readers. You make me happy and I hope this season finds you equally happy.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

d'Ys The Man.

d'Ys and a creation for Kawakubo.

There are haircutters; they work in your local mall, know how to operate a pair of scissors, and love to give blowouts and blunt cuts. There are hairdressers; they work in salons outside of malls, make sure your scalp is massaged by the shampoo person, love executing a good razor cut, and will primp you til you look marvelous. There are hairstylists; they charge a bunch of cash, snip with precision, wear cool clothes, and have private studios above the ground floor in Manhattan. Then, there is Julien d'Ys. He's a hair sculptor and, well, he's one of maybe three names that the fashion world turns to to create magic.

Magic hair sculpture in Vogue.

From runway shows to museum exhibits, Julien's work is as much fine art as it is hair styling. He's spun magic for Galliano, Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garcons, and countless editorials for the heavy hitter Vogue photographers, like Meisel and Elgort. Mr. d'Ys is also gifted with a sketchbook. His drawings have a classicly cool fashion illustrator's touch and they've been used in print and on the walls of the Met for the Models as Muse exhibit. His work speaks for itself; take a look:

Julein's drawings in the final room at the Model as Muse exhibit.

Julien explaining his art to Hamish Bowles.

How does he do that cotton candy hair? I wonder...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Common Goods: Box It Out.

Nice belt, boy.

Boys (especially my straight boys), you know you wanna play dress up sometimes, right? I feel sad for you every once in a while because I want you to play dress up too. Us girls, we get to wear makeup and high heels and colors and patterns and have our hair done and paint our nails. I mean, I know you could do that if you wanted, but in general, you stick to the basics, the neutrals, the plain, the undone. It makes me a little sad for you. I feel like you miss out a little; like a bit of your soul is secretly crying to be set free. Until I remember that you have sports. The outfits! The gear! The colorful fan wear, the face paint, the uniforms! It's your version of playing dress up and you like it even more than painting your nails because there is competition involved, aggression is encouraged, and you can possibly see people bleed. You love it. And, I love it because there is an element of fashion in your sports. You don't see it? Well, consider these fantastic portraits of boxers from The Library of Congress's photostream on The Commons:

The flashy finery of the championship belts is enough to prove my point, but check out the unitards and lace up boots; the gloves and striped shorts. It's all so wonderful, like costumes we call uniforms instead. Yes, form follows function when it comes to sports gear, but really there is a filter of aesthetics too: the flourish of something rather than the strict usefulness of it. It's all there in sports, guys. It's settled, this is your dress-up.

And, because these shots blew my mind, take a look at the Boxing Bennet Sisters and Mrs. Edwards and partner in action:

Amazing, right? Who knew they let girls punch each other in the 1910s? Where is the biopic on these ladies? I demand one.