Monday, February 28, 2011

Are You Repulsed?

The Lady hath done done it again; this time, with more placenta! Believe me, I'm squeamed by the gelatinous birth scenes too, but how sci-fi and kitchy crazy are they? The thing is, the colors, the mirror effect, the wind-catching swaths of fabric, and the pounding editing are Nick Knight trademarks, who Gaga entrusted with directing duties. The video is your invitation to watch them create a new universe. Let them do their thing, fly their freak flag like joyous kids in and endless field on whatever planet they come from. I know all the chatter about the song being a Madonna bite is deafening, but this visual accompaniment is beyond Madge's capabilities. While Madonna devotes endless funds to the pursuit of forever-youngness, youthful prettiness, hotness, Gaga's busy showing you her ugly parts enhanced to be uglier. Look at them or don't. I dare you not to. Also, I'm pretty sure the last ten seconds of the video are a direct shout out to the gap-toothed Material Girl from her Rain days. Make of it what you will, Gaga's taken pop astral with a talented crew of assistants that are bursting into stars in their own right. Talent attracts talent and repels mediocrity. Are you repulsed?

The video can be seen as its best self on the SHOWStudio website. They can also provide you with the full stable of credits for the creation of the video.

One more Oscar thing.

Madonna and Lourdes at last night's Oscars.

They grow so young so old so fast.

Image from

The Sschmoscars.

I loved watching the Oscars in the company of friends this year. Usually I want silence so I can concentrate on nothing but the show that feels so damn seriously important and heightened. I get annoyed when people dis what I like or like what I hate and irritation ensues leading to too many trips to the snack spread. This year, I welcomed the nay-saying peanut gallery chatter and the heartfelt cheers for adored winners, or abhorred losers. I'm just not that serious about the spectacle anymore, which makes it even more enjoyable. I do of course have my fashion favorites from last night. I was impressed with some of the individual choices, and the overall look felt more varied and thankfully less stylist-orchestrated than the year's other awards events. Also, Anne Hathaway played that stage like a pop star, changing outfits however many times it took to distract from her seemingly purple hazed co-host, the meta-tastic Jimmy Franco. I personally was wowed by Anne's quick switches. The verdict? This year was a popcorn munching kind of year--light, airy, buttery, golden. Sometimes it got stuck in my teeth type irritating, but mostly it was enjoyable.

My favorite look of the night came from the inimitable Ms. Cate Blanchett.

I can hear the decriers already slamming its weirdness or washed-out color scheme, but in fact that weirdness is the kind of pretty I like. It's off, it's not your typical Oscar fantasy dress. Blanchett is a woman of style and taste. Anyone can look great on a red carpet, but to move the pendulum of fashion in one direction or the other, to get people talking and splitting opinions is the second part-time job of a Hollywood style setting actress.

Her Givenchy couture dress is strange: The creped chiffon skirt and bodice set off the hard lines of the very structured shoulders. The dress looks like armor dotted with pastel caviar. Its laduree violet and egg yolk colors are atypical for fancy occasions, but complimentary on the color wheel which lets them settle in as strange bedfellows that work anyway. Cate's makeup and her glide across the stage brought the dress to an elevated level of comfort on her. It's not just what the woman wears, it's how she wears it. The dress came directly from Ricardo Tisci's Spring 2011 Couture show for Givenchy, his obsessive (and beautiful) ode to Japanism seen below.

Givenchy also gets praise for Anne Hathaway's first ceremony dress of the evening, which had a similar pretty armor feel. The thick jeweled straps criscrossing the bodice felt like protective chains. I'm sorry there aren't better images of the dress on the interwebs because the back of it is equally gorgeous.

Hathaway's later incarnation as a foil to Franco's cross-dressing Marilyn look, came off as less of a joke than I think the producers may have intended. I thought Anne's smartly tailored Lanvin tux--replete with a floppy bowtie hat tip to his Majesty Alber--outshone most of the girlie gowns.

And, speaking of shine, the sky-high sparklers attached to Hathaway's feet were fantastic. I was impressed with her bounding up those equally twinkling stairs to deliver that lung-busting musical number she did. Gold star, Anne.

Other favorites? These ones:

Goldie star Gwyneth! Sometimes the GOOPy blond just gets is so right on the red carpet. This golden sheath is liquid metal on her, and the column shape with the stick straight, ultra-blond hair, tan-as-tasteful-tan-can-be glow, and those jaw hugging bejeweled earrings all come together so well.

Scarjo's sexiness cannot be tamed. The dress she chose hugs and snugs her curves, the raspberry color is deeply, almost aggressively feminine, and her tousled hair/understated makeup combination is just comfortably sexy. When sexy is comfortable, or at least looks that way, it is actually sexier. Watch Scarlet and learn.

Not sexy? Hailee Steinfeld. Thank God! The teen actress looked so appropriately sweet and girlie it made me sigh a huge sigh of relief. Everything from the cut to the color to her hair are pretty and feminine and lovely. It's so wonderful to see a young Hollywood actress not being tarted up by the fame machine.

One final note of interest: Marisa Tomei wore a Charles James gown! I'm a bit astounded because most of the 1950s sartorial star's gowns are safely stored in environmentally controlled museum collections at places like the Costume Institute and the Museum at FIT. Her wearing the gown out last night to a public event is somewhat akin to a starlet borrowing a bit of Egyptian jewelry from The Met galleries for a few hours. Granted Lily et Cie, the vintage purveyor who lent her the gown is a reputable dealer in the historic costume world and the venture is a commercial one, it still raises questions for me about the idea of precious clothing being treated as irreplaceable, valuable pieces of art work. Should a Charles James be paraded down a red carpet? Exposed to the elements, losing fibers, damaging hems, and being flashed with powerful light? And then, gasp, sat on? Or, should it be safe and sound, preserved for posterity? Is it different because it is fulfilling its purpose? It's being worn and shown for the delight of it? Things that make you go hmmm...well, at least if you are a budding fashion historian. That is all.

Yo, Oscars, see you again next year!

All images from, except Givenchy couture shots from, and Anne Hathaway pictures from a diligent google search.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rapid Pulse

I just saw Xavier Dolan's sophmore film Heartbeats. I loved the palette. This clip shows you everything you need to know about that. Hold on to your pupils.

My favorite part is that you can see the orange, glowing tips of the dancers' cigarettes through the light and the dark--that and the palette.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Noah's Ark, c. 1962

A 1962 couple grabs two of each and heads for shelter on the cover of Esquire Magazine.

Photo by Harold Krieger and George Lois.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Bright Young People.

We think we are so fresh. There is an innate tendency in every generation to look back at the past as twee, sweet, and even trite. To the uninitiated, photos of the recent past look ridiculous, out of date, past due, and expired. It lends a sort of staleness and "isn't that cute" hindsight to days gone. But, the more I learn about history, the more I realize it's all been done before, all of it. Perhaps now we can do it faster, or wirelessly but trust me, it's been done before. My case-in-point du jour? The group of Bright Young People who used the city of London as their plaything in the 1920s. Set eyes on the eye-lined, gold-dusted, haute cheeked group leader Stephen Tennant, and tell me he's not David Bowie's progenitor, who therefore has spawned Gaga and a whole stable of today's Pop Provocateurs.

Tennant's compatriots were the young rebels who took the Victorian and Edwardian eras in their paws and batted em around until they were shaken free of any vestiges of war or stuffiness, and glittered instead. The crew, including Cecil Beaton and Evelyn Waugh, and Nancy Mitford, drank their asses off and danced til fancy party locations vibrated in rhythm to their cocaine-induced heart spasms. They were a circle of tastemakers, drug-takers, and publicity hunters. Their fancy dress parties became legendary happenings that gave everyone license to morph their age, gender, appearance--any particular of their identity.

The BBC documentary below proves that the fame-seeking tabloid scene is nothing new, neither is drug-taking, gender ambiguity, or eccentric glittery style. It's all been done before, I'm afraid, but don't let that stop you. Every generation needs their bright young people, just remember no matter how bright you are, you'll have to try real hard to be original.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Apfel Addict.

Iris Apfel is a fashion fan's dream come true. She's the kind of quirky doyenne who's got signature style on lock-down. I've long admired her, and have squealed whenever I came across her image in print, but I've never seen the wonderful woman in action. In all of its glory, I present to you the inimitable persona of Mrs. Iris Apfel, Textile Queen and Fashion Legend:

BTW, did you see her mehndi covered hands? At the 2:10 mark.

All The Pretty Girls

The decadence of a beautiful face, drawn to drip in jewel-colored makeup could definitely dress up your white walls. Illustrator Leigh Viner's pretty girls all look like their cocktails are laced and Bowie's playing loud, pump-thumping through the wall-sized speakers at that new, shiny downtown club. Rendered in ink, or acrylic, or whatever Viner picks up to paint with, the beautiful faces she fashions are a result of a somewhat divine talent. With minimal art training, Viner has largely taught herself how to make magic on paper. Her raw technique is laudable, with its dependence on free-form lines, drips, and fabulous dribbles. The results of her skills are portraits with personality--the type of personality that you would never talk to at the party, but would always gawk at.

You can purchase Viner's work through her Etsy site for very reasonable prices. To get to know her better, and to see some of her fantastic photographs, check in on her blog.

All of the images above are copyright Leigh Viner, and are hers and hers alone. No stealing, wannabes!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Fade to Color.

Loie Fuller imagined the Serpentine Dance as a kind of painting created with light, fabric, and her body. The billowing garment (which Fuller patented) swings about under her control, catching colored light as it fades in and out in the performance space again and again, hypnotizing viewers. I suggest you watch it on loop.

The film is a hand-colored black and white from 1891, and is currently on view at the MoMA as a part of their show On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century.

Trend Watch: Merkins.

Fashion does not stop at clothes, so neither will this intrepid blog! Some trends aren't necessarily visible to the naked eye, but rather visible when someone is naked in front of your eye. For so long fashion in female grooming practices has followed a "less the better" ethos with lots of ladies sending their parts on painful trips to Brazil. However, in an ode to "it all comes back around" the fuller stylings of the '70s are making a comeback. American Apparel ads say so, and so does former Dresden Dolls singer Amanda Palmer. Below is the Young Punx remix of her latest single "Map of Tasmania" featuring the teaches of muff-advocate Peaches.

The video makes a star of many merkins. Whether tinseled like a x-mas tree, festooned with Legos, or rollin' in the bills, the merkins offer creative solutions for the girls who have spent so many years getting rid of everything that they now have no resources to follow fashion. Don't worry ladies, some hot glue and your favorite knick-knacks will keep you in the running for style setter. Also in case you have no knick-knacks, just print and cut the map of Tasmania below. Instant femme fashion.

(Oh come on! I can't possibly let it get too highbrow 'round here. haha)