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

archive for the 'Op-Ed' department

Designer To Dealer: The Transition From Boutique to House of Ill Repute

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

The “Dior Addict” marketing campaign for cosmetics and perfume (weren’t there the shirts as well?) launched a few years ago, peddling luxury goods and the accompanying addiction. Christian Dior doesn’t use the “Admit It” tagline anymore, but that’s just as well. Don’t admit it. In fact, don’t even have a paper trail of the purchase. Shivani Vora’s “Money Doesn’t Talk” is an article in the New York Times about the growing trend of paying cash for luxury goods among women in order to avoid justifying purchases to husbands, boyfriends or parents. Women are doing this, Vora says, even when it’s their own money that they are spending. Of all the reasons cited for the increase in cash payments at luxury boutiques, hiding an addiction is conspicuously absent.

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attacked by a perfume craving on her way to the local needle exchange: Liberty Ross for Christian Dior, circa 2002


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


Olivier Theyskens Against Global Vulgarity

Thursday, August 10th, 2006

The news became public on July 18th that the Rochas atelier in Paris is finished. At the helm was Olivier Theyskens, a 29-year-old designer that inspires both longing and jealousy among his community. My intention in writing this commentary is to augment the article by Lynn Herschberg entitled, “Is There a Place for Olivier Theyskens?” in the New York Times Magazine.

It is difficult to pinpoint why news of the closure affected me so much. Perhaps it is because Mr. Theyskens is my age and represents uncompromising ideals that I like to think reflect my own. These ideals encase the creative vision he intended for the reawakening of Rochas; an incredible responsibility he shouldered with grace. Then there is the matter of his endearing persona seemingly resurrected from the past: the broody, androgynous youth so reminiscent of a 19th century poet. (It is a presence, incidentally, which tends to confuse models – they don’t know whether to cuddle him maternally or have a crush on him.) Perhaps most of the disturbance is due to confusion. Confusion shared by Ms. Herschberg and no doubt many others in the fashion community. How can such rare talent be reduced to a bottom line? Surely this event is symbolic of a greater issue at hand: megabranding and its appeal to the lowest common denominator. This is the beast to which most fashion designers today bow to. If they do, they float and if they don’t, the beast swallows them whole. As misanthropic as I have become as a result of this reality as well as the reality of current events around the world, I maintain hope. I refuse to believe Olivier Theyskens is an anachronism.

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image: Olivier Theyskens backstage at the Rochas a/w 2005 show