Sunday, December 19, 2010

Watch with me.

I'll catch you up, dear readers, on where I've been in just a bit--but, for now you must watch something for me. Someone has gone and posted the entire film Unzipped on youtube. I just watched the first part of the 1994 documentary of Isaac Mizrahi's Fall collection and already I've been magically transported back to the basics of why I love fashion. In the first 7 minutes of the film you see Eartha Kitt in all of her living glory, a fresh-faced Amber Valletta meeting Isaac for the first time, and Mizrahi's mama bragging about her son's first garment: a straight blazer she would wear to temple on all of the high holidays. I have no television, so I have no idea what Isaac is up to on his new tele show with Iman, but in those days he was the kind of charming, energetic, smoking, neurotic, funny man that made for good entertainment. So, lets watch together. Here are all the parts:

*Part 4 annoyingly has no audio because of a copyright claim over a music track. I say watch the visual and hum.

So good, right?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Brad Pitt of the Internet

Alber Elbaz in conversation with Suzy Menkes about his H&M-sparked internet fame and his wifey, Jean.

The incredibleness of Mr. Elbaz and his floppy bowtie cannot be overstated, and when you add Suzy "I had the original Snooki Pouf" Menkes into the mix, you have a fashion interview phenom. Also, the big/little anecdote near the end of this clip explains exactly why women nearly toss their underthings onto the Lanvin runway, he melts them and makes them feel like his big skill is for little old them. That, my friends, is how you grow a legion of fans.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Water Work

We humans come from aqueous beginnings. Both as tiny pre-babies in the contained sea of the womb and as a submerged primordial life force that grew gills and then fins and then feet after the big bang (that is if you believe in that crazy evolution stuff). Some designers and artists want to get you a little closer to all that wetness. My friend Rahul ("in the know") Sharma tipped me off to the new Robyn video today and it makes a star of liquid fashion. Visual artist Lucy McRae designed the tubular water wear, which is a nice accent to the hot and heavy couple.

Robyn 'Indestructible' Official Video

Robyn | Myspace Music Videos

Lucy McRae's work is fantastic, but she's not the only one looking to make your wardrobe all wet. The designer/artist Charlie Bucket won a Vimeo award earlier this year for the musical video he made of his woven tube textile prototype draining and filling with colored water. Totally deserving of the praise, in my humble opinion.

Fluid Sculpture from Charlie Bucket on Vimeo.

Hypnotic, no?

Hard Work, Paid in Squeals.

I recently began an internship with the Special Collections division of the Library at FIT. This means I pinch myself repeatedly sitting among the stacks of old, rare, unique and oversized works on paper as I do "work" like organizing stacks of storyboards from Esquire in the 1960s, or taking stock of the collection of Vogue magazines--making sure to flip through every page to note any damage. I literally pinch myself, smile, and squeal with glee for 6 hours at a time on this "job". The Vogue assignment has been particularly delightful. So far I've paged through every twice monthly issue of the magazine from January 1, 1936 to May 15, 1938. The only hazard of the job is that my brain is swimming with 1930s dress desire. The clothing, the faces, the makeup and hair! It was all so gorgeous and remains remarkably covetous. How gorgeous? Take a look for yourself. Below is an absolute relic of fashion film. A 1938 fashion show shot at the studio of London-based designer Norman Hartnell in rich Dufaycolor. The film shows you great examples of just what I feel so lucky to swoon over.

I know, I know. Swoon, right? You too can flip through the pages of Vogue (or anythings else fashion-related you might enjoy). If you are a student in need of research, a scholar of any kind, or just a respectful fashion fan with careful hands, you can contact the library to make an appointment to spend some time with the incredible treasures of FIT's collection.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sketch on the Subways

Usually the sketchiness I see on the NYC subways has more to do with undiagnosed mental disorders than it does art. But, part time radio producer and part time techy doodler Eric Molinsky draws stealth portraits of the MTA's less sketchy riders using only his index finger and an app on his iPhone.

The results are a very charming cross section of the train riders straphangers and hopstoppers see everyday. Molinsky captures the mood of the morning commute and the amazing education in humanity (culture, fashion, emotion, oddity, etc.) that is the New York City Subway System. Beyond the great idea to document the daily crowd, Molinsky's sketching skills on the quick are quite impressive.

To see more about his technique, check out the video piece the New York Times ran on Molinsky earlier this week.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Yeezy Does It.

Kanye's crazy. We know this. The mad man whose ego could unfurl down the winding path of The Great Wall of China and still be in reserve, is kind of an asshole kind of often. You could cite a thousand examples of this, or just one that we all remember as an award-winning moment. The thing is though that in addition to his immature petulance being remarkable, West is good, damn good. His word work is arguably second to none. He drops lines that baffle in their cleverness. His music reverbs with intelligence and swift wit, as well as brain wrapping beats that bust through radio speakers and headphones clear across any societal divide. He's a star, and has been since his first wire-jawed crash onto the scene, but now he's a tastemaker and a filmmaker.

My first notice of the 35 minute time clock running down at the bottom bar of West's long-form music video fro Runaway elicited a reflexive mouse over to the fast forward button, but I never made use of it. Besides for featuring West's awesome new crop of songs, the video is expertly art directed. The colors and scenery are hypnotic, sturated and frenetic. Although the director's credit goes to West, (maybe an ego feed?) the video's lifeblood is contemporary artist and credited Art Director Vanessa Beecroft's. Beecroft made a name for herself in the 90s and aughts by gathering groups of similarly styled women into gallery spaces for fashion heavy art sit-ins. Her work was beloved and accepted by the fashion world, which also trades mightily in the gathering of static, aesthetically similar females.

Stills from Vanessa Beecroft performance pieces, 1993 to 2010.

Ms. Beecroft's hand in the Runaway piece mends a puzzle for me: I watched Kanye's VMA performance with its cavalry of same-same stylized dancers thinking that Ms. Beecroft would be proud. Now I see that she's more than inspired the work, she's been involved! West's sonic cinema also gathers other top talents. Philip Lim is responsible for the sartorial aspects, and the legendary, ubiquitous costume magicians at Izquierdo Studio turned model-made-actress Selita Ebanks into a Victoria's Secret version of a phoenix hell bent on setting their fine feathered work ablaze. The always hip Hype Williams is given a writer's credit, which smells funky to me in light of his phenomenal director's reel. Perhaps Hype did more "writing" by directing this top notch video with Kanye. No matter the semantics of titles, the video is obviously the result of some dream team work and obviously an instant classic. Keep it comin' Yeezy (and team) because it's raising the bar so damn high and us fans like it very much.

Friday, October 22, 2010

That's a Warp (and a Weft).

Warp and weft are the two directions that threads lay in a woven piece of cloth. The warp runs vertical to the finished edge of the cloth while the weft runs horizontal.

The idea of integrating two directions of thread so that they become swaths of fabric, for dress or home, is ancient. There are garments fully constructed of harvested materials spun into thin threads and woven into cloth older (millennia older) than the mere idea of Jesus himself. The practice of weaving cloth is a godly one. Not to sound all ecclesiastical or nothin', but look at the fabric of your shirt. Take it in your hand and examine it close. See the interlocked threads? See them looping in and out, over and under each other. See that intricate pattern? Your shirt is probably made by machine, but imagine the incredible skill of a worker constructing that same cloth with their own hands. It's almost impossible to picture how it's done. I can tell you that there is a frame of wood, a couple of crossbars, lots of yarns of identical length strung in careful order over one of the crossbars. I can tell you that a wooden piece known as a shuttle goes between two layers of threads to create a weave, but can you picture that? I couldn't either. But, thanks to the combined efforts of Ms. Desiree Koslin, textile structure extraordinaire and her assemblage of Youtube weaving clips, I don't have to try and imagine it, I can watch it happen. Here are clips of all types of weaving going on all over the world.

A warp weighted loom experiment in America:

Two sisters weaving in Guatemala:

Weaving around a common pillar in Indonesia:

Rhythmic cloth making in Ghana:

A rare draw loom in Fez:

Maybe this is too much unwanted technical information for your fashion loving brain, but each and every one of your most favorite garments and coveted items of clothing come off of a loom (either mechanical or hand done). I for one love seeing the macro and micro of fashion.

I want a loom. Who's with me? We can get one here. Eh?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Movie Garb

Clark Kent's glasses, those Dumb and Dumber suits, Top Gun's patched leather bombers--they nearly defined the movies they were in. These scraps of costume clothing are iconic and instantly recognizable. Illustrators James Alexander Mathers and Andrew Lau of ad team Moxie Creative reimagined movie posters for classic films starring their sartorial breakouts. The project was completed for men's style site Every Guyed, which is very stylin' indeed.

You can purchase your own prints of the posters for a very chic $30 including shipping. Visit Moxie Creative's site to do so.

Just for good measure, I present to you one of the best scenes of cinema history--the business card scene in American Psycho, the ultimate style pissing match:

American Psycho -- Business Card Scene from Vimeo.

Posters spotted on the ever-wonderful/funny/brilliant The Daily What, which you should all follow immediately.

Go See: Hipsters, Hustlers, and Handball Players: Leon Levinstein's New York Photographs, 1950–1980

Street photography wasn't invented on a blog. Net snappers like Scott Schulman, Garance Dore, and Tommy Ton may be greatly talented, but they aren't original to the degree you might think. While the wireless technology of quick shots and even quicker sharing has made the global street scene an international public venue for fashion and character shows, the real pioneers of the genre were out working in the field at a time when their unsuspecting subjects didn't even know what a camera lens was. Leon Levinstein's work is a black and white time capsule of a mythic New York that was but will never be again: the gritty city of the 1970s.

The small rooms lined with his photos at The Met until the 17th of this month are your windows on that world. The public, in all of its beautifully rough glory stars in the snaps that are cool, grimy, sweet, and stunning.

The thing I admire most about any public photographer is their ability to capture an unwitting subject without altering a moment. Levinstein comments in the show's online material that he's lucky he never lost a tooth or a lens. "Most people don't particularly care to be photographed," he said, "and if you ask them--the picture's ruined." There's a risk in that. I'm glad Leon took that risk again and again, and I'm hoping you'll catch this tribute to his brave legacy before it's taken down.

All photos Leon Levinstein via a google image search.

Monday, September 27, 2010

One-Earringed Warrior.

Robyn ain't new. She's been around a deliciously long time, a fact I find remarkably comforting. She's someone that I had very ignorantly overlooked for many years simply because once I listened to one of her songs and it was too blip-bloop-bleepy-electropoppy for my taste. After that particular afternoon I never looked back, and dare I say that I was soooo wrong not to. I personally use this example of my own failing to never say no til the third try of anything ever again. After so long of clicking past any presence of the cute blond popstress, what made me reconsider? A friend with good taste (thank God for those!).

A little while ago my friend Rahul posted a Letterman appearance of Robyn's as his g-chat status message with the simple text: "Yes!!!" Because Rahul is nearly prescient in his level of taste, I clicked and watched Robyn make a hand-kissing fan of Mr. Letterman with her rousing rendition of one of her latest singles, Dancing On My Own (see above). The performance quickly became my repeating lullaby, alarm clock, and daytime dance tune. In fact, I only recently replaced it with something new, which is....also by Robyn. Her video for her song Hang With Me is sweet and officially cements her status as cuteness embodied.

Robyn's pixie appearance is edged with a taste for the modern. She favors designers with a like of tailoring and structure. She also prefers one of my all-time favorite modes of accessorizing--asymmetrical earrings. She frequently dons just one dangler, or a big and a small one. This trend should have come and gone a long time ago. But, when the right person does it, it instantly transports me back to that sweet spot of time in the '80s when all of the cool, older girls were doing it and creating that magical kind of envy that makes a little girl want to stick out childhood so she can do it too.

Robyn, can I be you when I grow up?

On a Mission: Fabrication Fantastic

Dolce and Gabana's 2011 Spring outing entered virginal territory. Based on the caches of cloth brides would prepare and bring with them as part of their wedding day trousseau, the show was a mostly white ode to needle craft. The handiwork that results in the fabrications they showcased has been specialized, skilled labor for centuries, and is timeless in its crafted beauty.

In choosing pieces for my own wardrobe, I'm taking on a commitment to own garments made of special fabrics. I've found two pieces recently: one black top with embroidered cutwork, and another zipped, quilted jacket made of embroidered, creamy cotton. They were both cheap thrift finds ($8 and $3, respectively) that feel priceless and timeless. They are classic black and white pieces that dress up my basics and make me feel a little special. In that good way--not, you know "special".

Photos: Yannis Vlamos / via

Friday, September 24, 2010

Oh, Mallory! I love you.

If you ask me who my childhood heroes were I would have to say: The Giving Tree, Madonna, and Mallory Keaton. The first two are pretty self-explanitory, right? Who wouldn't want to be an awesome tree with so much to give, and an international pop star with tons of rubber bracelets? I don't know who. The third may not be as immediately evident. You see, to me, Mallory Keaton was the ultimate older sister. She was tough and pretty and had that great brown, feathered hair. Sometimes she would wear eyeliner, but mostly she was just simple and pretty. Something about her spoke to me. And as dumb as they made her seem on the show, I knew she could kick that little twerp Alex's ass any day. Because she was older and cooler than me at such a formative age, I have forever looked up to her style and envied her wardrobe. I loved her tomboyish prettiness and in the last few years, I've been thinking of her a lot as a style icon. No joke.

A few months ago I had gone to the trouble of Netflix streaming an early episode of Family Ties to screencap still shots of Mallory's amazing wardrobe. It was a lot of work and in the busyness of my days I forgot the pursuit and saved it for a later. Well, I'm apparently not the only one who loves Mallory. Someone beat me to the punch and I'm thrrriiillled by it. My amazingly astute, awesome librarian friend Nicole "Colie" S. sent me a link to Mallory's Clothes.

It's a single-serving Tumblr (the best kind, honestly) that is in pursuit to present "a comprehensive rundown, in chronological order, of Mallory Keaton's outfits from the series Family Ties (1982-1989)" Um, YESSS! I couldn't be happier and hope you can share in this joy. Let's show Mallory just how much we honor her tele-style and make this Tumblr a hit. I'm so excited!!

Photos come from my new favorite Tumblr, Mallory's Clothes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Please enjoy this vimeo video of morphing ladies of the 18th Century by user Rene Delacroix.

Fashion! from rene delacroix on Vimeo.

Happy-making, no?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ticket Me.

The shows used to be industry functions, now they are theater that begs for a loving audience.

I'm not rich. I can't afford to buy "off the rack" unless that rack is in a big box retailer. It's the truth, and instead of loathing the state of my financial affairs, I use it as a challenge and many of my fellow fashion forward friends do too. We go to vintage shops, thrift stores, clothing swaps, and sample sales. We gather what's old or used, and mix it with what's newly made in China and come out looking pretty fly if you ask us. That's because we love fashion. We study it and seek it out. We get our hands dirty and get creative with stitches and sewing machines or glue or seam rippers and wear what becomes something new. I'm not boasting, I'm just truth telling. The way we put things together becomes the fuel that fires the trend driven fashion machine. We are such a big part of the big business, and yet we can't get into the tents without a scheme or a name badge that reads "Tavi."

Now, I wouldn't ask to touch anything. I'd just look with my eyes.

I'm not trying to seem entitled, there is a sense of earning your place in the tents. Those runways are nothing if not hierarchy on display. I don't want or need frontrow seats, or even a seat, but what about a standing pass? My plea is this: I wish designers would designate a certain section of space at their seasonal shows for fans who show their love in ways other than whipping out their wallets. In the past fashion shows were industry events. They were a fairly straightforward means to an end. Designers would open their studios, or set up satine sofas in salons to show their latest creations to buyers and editors. There were few if any outside viewers that were there simply for spectacle. My, how that has changed. Fashion shows now are performances. They are brand building exercises in theater with the best costumes this side of Bollywood. They beg to be seen and we want to see them with the thump of the music in our chests, not our earbuds plugged into laptops.

Any room for me at that table? I'll do the dishes.

What if houses held contests for design students, aspiring stylists, or wishful photographers? What if writers could submit design reviews, ad copy, or press releases? Someone somewhere could take a few hours to judge the group and select attendees. This would be two fold, helping to source up-and-coming talent for the industry. Or, even easier? Do student rush tickets. Charge a flimsy fee and let people line up to buy tickets before the show. It would make some peoples' lives to be let behind the velvet ropes and see a show in person.

There used to be empty chairs.

This thought was sparked by my dealings with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week's new venue. Lincoln Center was remarkably un-fan-friendly. I happened to slip in on the coatails of a friend who had an invite to the Christian Siriano show. Inside the tents was fabulous, outside was dull and awkwardly inaccessible. In Bryant Park the tents and their environs were a fantastic place for a fan. There was the back entrance where the celebs would breeze in surrounded by squabbling paparazzi. There were the many tiny tables and chairs in the park where editors and makeup artists took phone calls or checked email. There was the plume of smoke rising from the corner where the made-up models would smoke their lunches before the shows kicked off. It was delightful eye candy for a fashion fan, even if you couldn't get in to see the show. I miss it. I'd love a way to participate in this world that I love even before I become an employed, card carrying member of the fashion industry, and I think the ability to see contemporary designs upclose and un motion would benefit my studies immensely. Well, that and it would just be an effing thrill. I'm just throwing it out there.