Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opie x Rodarte

Image of a Rodarte gown by Catehrine Opie.

The photographer Catherine Opie is known for her portraits of gender. She takes photos of "men" and "women" in ways that show you the confusion of those terms, the identity they impose, and the ways they are expressed. She also photographs the body as a platform for thought and or pain. Self-portraits of the artist are disturbing and beautiful documents of self harm, or of love. It's this mix of the rough and soft, of the dark and the warm, that makes her pairing with Rodarte a natural fit. As a satellite to their MoCA show (which they call a case study of their still young work) Rodarte is releasing a book of photographs by Catherine Opie and Alec Soth. Californian landscapes of interest and inspiration to Kate and Laura have been photographed by Soth, while Opie has taken photographs of the Mulleavy sisters' clients and favorite models in their gorgeous American couture pieces.

The photos above are all included in the book which is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Monday, March 28, 2011

On With His Head!

Cick above for video via the SHOWstudio site.

It never ceases to amaze (and utterly relieve) me that some of the most genius artists in the fashion world are also fantastic people. I've grown up with a ridiculous, inexplicable inner itch to make fashion my life. There was no cure for that strange condition, so now I'm devoting myself to it with a drive I didn't know I had. Every day it takes courage to show up as myself to a dream that I never thought I could really do without being reincarnated into some other human form with longer legs or a keener style sense. The fuel for my fire are the ever-so-talented and delightfully humble fashion folk who also do what they love simply because they must. Philip Treacy is one of those people. His work is poetic in its perfection. Every piece that I've ever seen come out of his millinery shop in his decade plus career has been witty, expertly crafted, and pointedly beautiful. Every single one. In an old SHOWstudio video piece I just caught for the first time, Treacy makes one of his "Feather Salads," or so he calls them. You get to watch him craft one of his gorgeous hatworks from mold to mannequin with the skill and eye he has in excess. He also answers questions at the same time, speaking candidly about his initial fear of Lady Gaga, the only two "machines" that he uses to make hats (his hands), and the beautiful feathers he curls to perfection with a hair iron. The video is only available through the SHOWstudio site, but please click through the photo above and watch; the video is phenomenal.

It Girl

Clara Bow was the first screen star to be branded an "It Girl." What was It? Words defy what only 20 minutes of Bow's story can tell. Watch this fantastic documentary from a few decades ago (and and a big pond away) to learn more about the Bow. Also, revel in watching Louise Brooks talk about her contemporary.

I personally think It was the hair. Love it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Street Ladies

Artist Katy Grannan has a keen eye for the pretty that exists in the odd. Her work is a body of mostly photographs that shows viewers what they may not think to look at in a way that makes it so they can't stop staring. The artist's latest work centers around a decidedly older group of subjects. In a two part solo exhibition entitled The Happily Ever After at Salon 94's Bowery and Freemans locations (see the site for details) Grannan presents The Believers and Boulevard. The Believers is an unscripted video work featuring a cast of faces familiar to Grannan's cannon; and Boulevard is the artist's rendition of street style photography. In her characteristic way Grannan stopped and snapped an intriguing (beautiful, unsettling, maybe unhinged) set of strangers against a stucco wall, as bright as the California sun.

The photos of Boulevard are of a varied set of passersby that present with their own peculiarities. Each subject carries out some form of visual delusion, whether a dyed mustache masking grays, a teeny tank top defying calendar age, a masculine jawline, or a host of ill-fitting clothing relaying an ill-fitting persona. The thread between them is a molding of reality to match the mind's life, the one that the subjects are living happily ever after. The photos themselves are saturated with sunshine, and glisten with brightness. The shots of older women, in their outfits and with their smiles, are most intriguing. Age is such a taboo in our culture, that we associate it with demented minds and feeble bodies, rather than a mark of life well lived and well spent. Grannan's photos raise that point without any pointedness, just great sitters and a stucco wall.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Must See.

My hero's doc is out!

Want to see this with me? I'm so there.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

All you need to know about makeup.

Two brushes at a time makes total sense!

Need makeup lessons? Throw away your beauty magazines and just click above to listen to adorable tutorial poster Madison who makes about as much sense as any magazine beauty copy I've ever read.

via The Daily What.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Meow, Quack, Grace.

I happened to be at the same fashion exhibit in the same gallery as the epically orange haired legend that is Grace Coddington a bit back, and I'd like you to know that she keeps her iPhone ringer set to quack. She's quite the animal lover actually. Here she is on Martha "made it" Stewart's talk show talking up her cats and cat book and cat necklace. Cats!

Here are the kitty photos of Karen Elson as Ms. Coddington for Vogue ca. August 2008.



Tommy Ton's snap of a model leaving the Viktor and Rolf show for his regular feature.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Dust Off That Dead Horse.

In response to Rhonda Garelick's Op-Ed piece in yesterday's Times: As an aspiring fashion historian involved in the academic pursuit of a Masters Degree at FIT, I respect your desire to look at current fashion events through an historical lens. However, I take serious umbrage with your overreaching comparison of my field, fashion, to a Nazi collaborationist government. Yes, as anyone who knows the facts of world events past is aware, after France fell to the Germans in WWII, their interim government of 1940-1944 was allied with some of the harshest of Nazi Germany's policies. It's a dark time to remember and hard to fact swallow. Even darker and harder to swallow is why you are bringing this up now, which is to elaborate on the ravings of one inebriated man with a giant ego and questionable morals. John Galliano's disgusting remarks were horrendous. They were also hastily dealt some serious punishment, and may stand to warrant more. He's been fired, his opinions have been damned by his employer, and denounced by those who trusted and adored him. He's about all wrapped up, until French law deals whatever fines or imprisonment it sees fit. He's the source of the strife, but in your article, it's not he alone who is being dealt the blows.

With some thin evidence you flippantly bring fashion in line with Fascism. While digging up ideals, quotes, and circumstances from over 70 years ago to support such a claim is problematic in and of itself, there are some details that need to be addressed. Your assertion that fashion magazines began to publish diet and exercise features to maintain a physical ideal upheld by Aryans doesn't hold water. I am currently reading Carmel Snow's autobiography where she discusses popularizing diet pieces as a lifestyle feature in Harper's Bazaar as one of her first orders of business when she became editor of the magazine in 1934. It was an idea that caught on quite quickly after that. Also, yes, some French fashion folk are rumored or documented to have been sympathetic to the Vichy cause, but your assertion that "many in fashion were eager to play along" should be elaborated with more than one name, Lucien Lelong, whose quoted statement is far from damning. In the circumstances of war, who wants to look afraid? Who wants to appear anything but serene to the world? And, does your personal reading of Karl Lagerfeld's fashion as reminiscent of "a Goth interpretation of an 18th-century Prussian officer" make him fascist? Why are we bringing Karl into this? He didn't say anything in a bar, and other than being an imposing force in the vein of nearly any head of any major corporate capitalist venture, he's not behaving badly.

Here's the thing, your feckless lobbing of heavy comparisons is irresponsible. No one, not one person in the French fashion industry (even making such a delineation in today's global economy is absurd) is causing you actual physical harm if you do not adhere to the youth and beauty ideals proscribed in a magazine, or by a designer. No one is forcing you by threat of death to take up residence in couture, wax your eyebrows, strap on stilettos, or lose a few. As much as it blatantly promotes pretty, fashion, especially of late (see Gaga, see skeleton tattooed models, see transgendered campaign stars) is widening its breadth. Its inclusiveness is about on par with any other major field of business. So yes, "fashion has moved far beyond the worst of the Vichy years," very far. Far enough that comparing fashion to fascism is lazy and grasping. Sensationalism knows no bounds, I guess. I'd rather see it in a designer's beautiful work than your ignorant words.

For your edification (and perhaps irritation) here is a link to Rhonda Garelick's piece, "High Fascism."

Friday, March 04, 2011

DIY Glam Pop for the Disco Set.

Steed Lord is the kind of band that gets the name "collective" because they are up to much more than simply making music. The trio hails from that fabled land of Bjork and hot springs, Iceland. They make good use of their country's reputation for all things fairy-wood-nymph-electric-cool and actually produce some sweet dance music. Listening to their single 123 If You Want Me really shakes my hips. I haven't wanted to be in a club in a long time (they smell funny when you're sober) but I'm craving a little thump thump dance dance under strobing spotlights next to hot bodies. Also, if the Steed clan's headmistress Kali could whip up a getup for me to rock, I'd really appreciate it, and probably enjoy myself that much more. Watch their video below, and visit their site here.


Oh, and "If you want me, put your back against the wall."

H/T the cool hunter.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Don't Hate.

Click above to see Suzy Menkes's report for The New York Times.

My stomach sank when I saw the video of John Galliano sauced and slurring hateful statements at a couple in a Marais bar. I barely paid attention to the words coming out of his mouth, as I was so shocked by his raving madman appearance. His deportment, his everything just looked sick and stoned. His babble may have been intelligible ("I love Hitler" is hard to mishear), but not understandable. Why in the world would a man of his cultured, artistic, educated sensibilities from a mixed heritage be spouting hate speech at strangers? I'd venture to answer that question with the word "alcohol." Nursing drinks alone at a cafe until the point of incoherence is something that seems to have been a pattern of late for Galliano, having been caught under the same circumstances a few times in the preceding months. He's obviously struggling with big demons, and for that reason, I'm hesitant to go any further into the issue of his dismissal from Dior, but it raises some interesting points.

Galliano reporting to a Paris police station.

Just to be clear, what Galliano said was abhorrent and tastelessly vile. I in no way condone what he said, or care to make light of it. I also don't want what I'm about to say to be taken as an excuse for his behavior. That being said, genius is maddening. I don't use that word lightly or flippantly. Galliano's moments of utter artistic mastery are many. The man made clothes from the universe of brilliance floating in his head, and presented them in ways that elevated them to the status of fantasy come true. Some of his collections still give me goosebumps at the mere conjuring of memories. When he sent Kate Moss running down his 1994 runway as a refugee princess in caged crinoline, or when he presented a couture show based on the insides of gowns he made fashion magic.

Video of preparation for Galliano's Fall 1995 collection of refugee princesses with Kate Moss.

The brilliant Fall 2005 dresses that exposed the underpinnings of couture construction.

Amazing pieces from Galliano's Spring 2007 Dior Couture Origami Collection.

I don't excuse artists' bad behavior on the grounds that they are good in other areas, but there is something to be said for the strain that such success and creative energy put on a person. So many gifted artists struggle with living in reality, the only thing they don't create. Their brains are too busy with their mediums, their sketching, their playing in dimensions few of us visit normally. As their star hopefully rises, so does the pressure they are under to produce more and better. Soon they are sleepless and under the gun and expected to go forth and prosper hugely. What happens at the end of years of that type of magnified pressure? Something bursts. We've seen it before, to tragic end. We'll see it again, but not under the auspices of the corporations that drain the genius from the artist for brand gains. The corporate entity that is Dior (backed by the behemoth that is LVMH) couldn't possibly risk boycott by offended people, so they tossed Galliano right quick. Perhaps deservedly so. But where is the place for the madness that makes magic? Where is the allowance for all of that mess that winds up feeding the flame of brilliance? Proclaiming an affinity for the most incomprehensibly villainous war lord of recorded history is astoundingly ugly; it is extremely ugly. But how do you reconcile that ridiculous abomination with the talent in his field that this man has? How do you mediate between Galliano's dumb, despicable words, and his deft, glorious designs? I guess we toss him and open up the floor for someone less inclined to hurl hate. But what of all that talent? What of it? If he sits on it he might explode.

Some of Galliano's less successful flights of fancy for Dior (there are quite a few more where these came from).

I bet there are some who may think that a John Galliano explosion is not such a bad option right now. Perhaps the seamstresses, embroiderers, cobblers, and milliners who's jobs he's placed in jeopardy. This brings me to my final point: Maybe John's just an ass. Maybe he's been an ass for years. If he gets drunk and snarls epithets at strangers, who knows how he's treated his staff, his employees, the workers who he directs? I don't mean to speculate errantly, but the quick dismissal seems to have been right quick enough to point to a camel and straw situation. His designs have wavered in the last few years. The over-the-top creations he's sent down the runway haven't translated to sales as heatedly as in his heyday. There were rumblings of LVMH dissatisfaction seasons ago. I don't think they anticipated this kind of an end, but maybe the smoking camera phone was their way out. And maybe it's time. The heads of houses can stay on for years, with little change. Now there's a job opening: Seeking brilliant designer with PR skills and a love of water over whiskey. Anti-Semites need not apply.