You cannot deconstruct unless you know how to construct. - Alexander McQueen

archive for September, 2006

Ton Almighty

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

The velvet rope. In or out. I am puzzled by the folks that stand outside clubs hour after hour, eager to get in or have their name on a magic list. Bouncers part the crowds to make way for the chosen coterie. What is the x factor for cool? At one time there was an equation to solve for whether you have enough of “it”, or bon ton, to belong to the fashionable circle. The equation for ton was well-guarded by, ‘that Most Distinguished and Despotic CONCLAVE, Composed of their High Mightinesses the Lady Patronesses of the Balls at ALMACK’S, the Rulers of Fashion, the Arbiters of Taste, the Leaders of Ton’. (Ellen Moers. The Dandy: Brummell to Beerbohm Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1960)

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Princess Lieven, lady patroness at Almack’s by Sir Thomas Lawrence, circa 1805


Txell Miras’ Amazing Hatching Corsets

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

I hesitate to put forth opinions on a collection emphasizing deconstruction. Txell Miras’ s/s 2007 collection entitled, “Desencorsetant” (Uncorseting) goes down that path, and since I am anything but an expert tailor I’ll steer clear from judgment in that regard. Like fellow conceptualists Rei Kawakubo and Viktor & Rolf, Miras’ ability to stir up thought is part of her signature style. In Desencorsetant I first see hatching corsets and think of matryoshka dolls, nested garments being something Viktor & Rolf have done in the past. Then I digress further into the chicken and the egg problem, which of course leads to an even thornier philosophical issue: Which came first, the woman or the corset?

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Txell Miras s/s 2007, detail


Favorites from London Fashion Week

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

Despite sifting through all manner of draped, sand colored (wet, dry, sparkling, etc.) clothes and getting stuck in a 80s revival hall of mirrors, there were a few shows that stood out at London Fashion Week. Gareth Pugh said his s/s 2007 collection was inspired by the 1985 fantasy film, “Legend”. It has been a while since I’ve seen the film, which was a favorite during childhood, but I’m at a loss recognizing anything of it in his clothes. Either he’s approaching it from the obliquest of all possible angles, or there are answers to be found in the Director’s Cut. Who knows. I see more of a Harlequin/Rubik’s Snake/Anime sort of vibe. Regardless of his interpretation of the movie, his show was future-perfect.

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Gareth Pugh s/s 2007


Remembrance of Design Past: Erté

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

When Romain de Tirtoff Erté was asked to put together a few lines about himself for the March 1919 issue of Harper’s Bazar, he was hesitant to reflect on his body of work at that point in his life: ‘Those things told by an old master might interest the public, but I prefer to give your readers my work, for at my age my art, which is my life, is the only language through which I speak with the world.’ (Stella Blum. Fashion Drawings and Illustrations from “Harper’s Bazar” New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1976) When considering the constant wellspring of fresh designs produced throughout his long life, perhaps there never was a time in which he would be comfortable speaking any other language.

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Erté for Harper’s Bazar, January 1918 Blum


Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts: Final Year Collections - Vladimir Lazarevic

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

I will close my coverage of the Academy’s final year collections with Vladimir Lazarevic’s “Ambrosia Field”. This collection is his vision of the Bacchanalia as seen through Baroque-colored lenses. “You can immediately associate with the Bacchanalian mood, but I wanted a more romantic approach so I used a sensuous Baroque view on the subject to achieve a bohemian mood. So my complete concept is built up on the centaurs’ looks, behavior and their presentation in Baroque art.” Lazarevic not only demonstrates a balanced silhouette combining man and beast but also a balance in his work between calculated craftsmanship and intuitive design.

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Vladimir Lazarevic “Ambrosia Field”


Favorites From New York Fashion Week

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Like most of what is promoted as the pop-american lifestyle, collections from New York Fashion Week offer up views of adulthood as taken from the scenic byways heading straight for the Fountain of Youth. Blooms and petals were everywhere, as were loose folds and practical shapes for the warmer months.

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Rodarte s/s 2007


Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts: Final Year Collections - Karin Schönenberger

Friday, September 15th, 2006

For Karin Schönenberger’s final year collection, “Tender is the Night”, she found inspiration in early 20th century photographs of Indian Maharajas and the display of power, status and wealth in their costume. She felt that this theme provided the perfect opportunity to use lace from her native Austria – the ingenious use of which displays her wealth of creativity.

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Karin Schönenberger


A Local Shop for Local People

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

“‘If every fashion school graduated one talented person each year,’ Mr. [Bryan] Bradley said, ‘I don’t think there’s room even for them in the business.’” (Cathy Horyn’s “The End of the Affair” New York Times September 7, 2006). This is a discouraging outlook for young designers wanting to make it in the fashion business as it functions today. It is possible that this opinion can be proved wrong, but as Bradley has been designing for his independent label Tuleh since 1997, he likely understands these stark realities all too well. There is, however, an alternative. Now may be the time to forego the ambition to present at fashionable courts in Paris, New York, London and Milan in order to maintain local talent and production. The following is a perfect summation by the folks at JC Report: “We believe that the future of design — at least, the most exhilarating and original concepts — is in the variety of indigenous artisans.” Indeed, cultural diversity is a precious resource that must be maintained and celebrated.

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Oaxaca gold silk embroidered dress from Xochiquetzal


Bone Structure, Darling, Bone Structure

Monday, September 11th, 2006

So said the quotable Tallulah Bankhead when asked about the most important quality in acting. Too bad even this standard has been compromised in Hollywood. Bone structure is the first thing you notice about Iekeliene Stange, apart from her unusual name.

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Iekeliene Stange in Vogue Nippon, September 2006


Generous Use of Talent

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

Avsh Alom Gur, Kristian Aadnevik and Alena Akhmadullina are young, refreshingly talented designers that pull sophisticated forms and construction techniques from the past to create forward-looking clothes. With such incredible skill, they will surely play a large part in shaping the future of their industry.

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Avsh Alom Gur a/w 2006-7