January 31, 2007

Anna in the New York Times


For as much as Ms. Wintour, 57, is scrutinized, her deal-making within the fashion industry is one activity that has received scant attention. In recent years she has gone beyond the editorial domain and involved herself in the placement of designers at fashion houses. Her efforts fall across a spectrum of involvement, from outright pitching the name of a person she likes to a chief executive, to putting her weight behind a pending decision, to effectively make a marriage.
Full Article
It must be incredible to have her support, and at the same time quite scary knowing you could be ignore or dropped off the list easily as well...
Ms. Wintour has also been busy trying to find a new employer for Phoebe Philo, the English star who left Chloé in 2005. Last May, Ms. Wintour invited Ms. Philo to a lunch in New York with François-Henri Pinault, the chief executive of PPR, the French luxury-goods group that owns brands like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga.

“It was quite simple,” Mr. Pinault said of the lunch. “She thought it would be interesting for me to meet Phoebe.” He made it clear that PPR had no vacancies and no plans to start new labels. Nonetheless, Ms. Wintour pressed Ms. Philo’s case in a later conversation, and Mr. Pinault said he expects her to do the same this week, when they meet in New York, to discuss the spring Costume Institute gala, of which Balenciaga is a sponsor.

Architectural Pulse



From today's New York Times...
Zaha Hadid and other architects unveiled designs for a cultural district in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.
I wonder how these designs would translate into a dress...

The Latest Hi/Lo



Lela Rose for Payless, arriving end of summer. Not bad for $20. Imagine when they have their BOGO off sales!!

Fashion and Ecology Pt.2


I was fashion design undergrad. My partner majored in environmental studies...maybe we should get together and go into business?! So much eco news...

First, Lancome's new Eco-Chic efforts, announced this week at a press junket in NYC and as reported by FWD...
In addition to introducing Primordiale Cell Defense, which focuses on neutralizing 99 percent of the damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure, pollution, and temperature extremes, the L’Oréal-owned beauty giant outlined its environmentally friendly objectives that will be implemented beginning in the second half of 2007. The cornerstone of this program is a partnership with Carbonfund.org, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about climate change and offering straightforward options to help individuals, businesses, and organizations reduce their climate impact.
Then, according to Style.com (see photo above):
The Limited Edition project gives fashion types the opportunity to pay more than lip service to growing concerns about global warming. In the mix at the fashion week trade show are limited-run collections by Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Libertine, and others—10 percent of the proceeds of which will benefit Al Gore's Climate Project. For those who really want to put their money where their mouth is, 100 percent of the proceeds from T-shirts produced by Buddhist Punk from designs by the likes of Kate Moss and Jade Jagger go to the charity.
As wonderful as these initiatives are, I wonder how much they will work. I mean, isn't the entire fashion system (and indeed capitalism itself) predicated on unnecessary spending and ever-faster consumption cycles???

January 30, 2007

Hats hat hats


The picture above is from NY Magazine's website, but hats aside I think it's really interesting to note how much more practical and realistic men's runway pieces tend to be compared to the womenswear lines of some of those same designers. Why? It's so easy to forget that a few centuries ago dandyism was in and it was totally OK for men to wear silk and embroideries and crazy colours...I kind of miss that equality.

January 28, 2007

Fashion: The Design Process Deconstructed


I really enjoyed Cathy Horyn of the New York Times' blog posting this week about the evolution of the design of a Lanvin dress...I thought that the slideshow was really interesting.
He got the idea for his futuristic spring collection after seeing elegant New Yorkers trapped in the rain. “So it came from humanity and ended up as futurism,” he said. He asked an Italian mill to produce a fabric that was 100 percent polyester. Yet, as modern as the fabric looked, the seamstresses at Lanvin had trouble sewing it. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is ahttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifmazing — a fabric that rejects pins,’.” Elbaz said. “Some fabrics are very stubborn. They don’t want to be told what to do.”

Nothing worked at first. “We tried using elastic. Too Adidas. We tried using jewels. Too cheap-looking. You start questioning yourself.”
Most of the time, we tend to forget that when we see something on the runway, or even in magazines, that these are PROTOTYPES. Not only has the idea evolved and changed so much from the original conception for logistical and aesthetic reasons, but from the time that it is shown on the runway to the time that multiple samples are made for magazines to photograph (and starlets to wear) to the time that clothing hits the shelves, many changes can and do occur. It's nice to see also that Alber Elbaz is willing to make so many prototypes and actually solve the problem rather than give up on his conception or accepting something "similar" to what he imagined. I guess that is both a mark of talent and dedication, but also because he (thankfully) designs from a position of privilege (ie the people backing him up trust him enough to invest in the process).

(Photo from nytimes.com)

January 25, 2007

Anti-Fashion On the Rise??

From the New York Times
Can Polyester Save the World?
...

But clothes — and fast clothes in particular — are a large and worsening source of the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming, because of how they are both produced and cared for, concludes a new report from researchers at Cambridge University titled “Well Dressed?”

The global textile industry must become eco-conscious, the report concludes. It explores how to develop a more “sustainable clothing” industry — a seeming oxymoron in a world where fashions change every few months.

...

January 23, 2007

Art and Fashion - Q&A with Myself!!


**Note: excerpts from a school-related conversation with the professor who is now my thesis advisor.**

Q: Now in our conversation you raised the point that certain pieces of clothing (couture) are never intended to be worn and can, therefore, be considered art. I wondered how this thesis would deal with the fact that clothes began as functional objects and only with the rise of modern ideas of couture, has functionality been jettisoned or reframed.

A: When I consider the role of functionality with regards to fashion, the first thing that I think of is that fashion itself has always been meant to be somewhat impractical – while it may protect the body, keep us from being naked, and act as a sociocultural signifier, the way that most fashion theorists define “fashion” is by its difference from “costume” or “Antifashion.” Historically speaking, while the latter remains constant over time (but varies geographically), fashion is known for its “ephemeral, transient, and futile character” (Lehmann 201). Built on the back of industrialization, mechanization, and capitalist consumption, fashion is meant to be impractical and encourage frivolity.

Couture has been around for over on e hundred years - little ateliers in Paris and Western Europe have been churning out beautiful gowns since the 19th century. However, what I believe has changed in the last century is the cultural role of couture.

First of all, while the handwork required and detailing applied to each garment may have remained constant, women seem to wear and purchase them for a different reason now. Today, I believe that couture is made primarily for two reasons: to raise the profile of a brand and sell more perfume and accessories, and for publicity reasons such as red-carpet appearances and photography features in magazines.

While a woman purchasing a Paul Poiret gown in 1920 would have appreciated its artistic and aesthetic merit, she would have also expected to wear the gown as part of her seasonal wardrobe or for special occasions. In contrast, many of the wild and colourful gowns that John Galliano showed for Dior’s Spring 2007 couture collection could probably only be sold after numerous alterations “for real life.” Couture has been elevated to the level of art precisely because it no longer has to (directly) answer to practicality and economics. At that rarefied level (at least theoretically), fashion no longer has to be “primarily motivated by profit” (Stern 14). Wearability, performance, and durability are almost irrelevant concerns next to Mr. Galliano’s visual and conceptual whims. His dresses only have to sell a concept, or a mood. As long as Dior perfumes sell briskly at duty-free shops and variations of the Saddle bag continue to be produced, Galliano’s artistic vision is secure.

Q: How would you theorize the current state of fashion and the carefully constructed lines between art and couture?


I think that the fashion business today is in a state of crisis, and overly depended on branding and the diffusion of already weak aesthetic references. Many labels rely more on appropriate advertising and the selling of lifestyle concepts more than innovation or risk-taking. Further, at the high-end designers are increasingly basing their business models on the bread and butter arenas of accessory lines and perfume launches rather than the less lucrative apparel end. (For example, Procter & Gamble shuttered the critically applauded Rochas fashion label in July, but will continue to sell its branded perfumes.

While 20th century fashion has always been cyclical, and less than original at the mass market level, I believe that the advent of computer technology and digital imaging in the last 10 years have worked to irrevocably alter the concept of trend cycles and the diffusion of style. Couture, and also high-end designer fashion, has had to establish itself by being increasingly dramatic, expensive, and impossibly adorned and constructed. Otherwise, how could they compete against the likes of Zara and Topshop?

As Charles Darwin’s son George wrote in 1872, the development of dress can be comparable to biological evolution, and it is only natural that in both “a form yields to a succeeding form, which is better adapted to the then surrounding conditions” (qtd. in Stern 130). When photos from couture shows appear freely on the Internet just a few hours after the event takes place, and high-street knock-offs can be produced within 6 week production cycles (from design to retail shelf), why else (besides brand-loyalty and status consciousness) would someone wait many months to buy the real thing for ten times more? The couture industry then has not only shrunk in size and influence, but its purpose in the fashion system has evolved.

Although couture clothing is becoming overly dramatic, we are still not seeing couture clothing in art or exhibition contexts as often as avant-garde apparel. Of course, today the argument that fashion can be artistic and that art works can revolve around or feature pieces from the fashion world has been pretty much normalized. As early as 1898 Josef Hoffmann wrote that “Dress seemed infinitely far from art, and we has accepted the idea that the gap that lies between them would never be bridged. We were wrong” (Stern 125). Of course now we are jaded to the idea of going to see art exhibits held at retail outlets, and viewing fashion products (and shopping) at established art galleries and museums. This century has witnessed both collaborations and appropriations between artists and fashion designers galore.

January 22, 2007

Reading List: In Vogue

Fashion journalism, or at least the first magazine to address the subject, was born in France in 1763 with Le Mercure Galant. In the United States, the first periodical for women, Lady’s Magazine, dates back to 1792, but it is Godey’s Lady’s Book, published between 1830 and 1898, that is considered to have laid the editorial groundwork for the genre.

I just finished reading In Vogue: The Illustrated History of the World's Most Famous Fashion Magazine and thought that it was really, really great at giving you a behind the scenes glimpse. Better than Devil Wears Prada. The pictures are lovely, it gave me a great history of the magazine and its competitors as well as characters, and really fairly discussed issues that anyone aspiring to work in the Fashion/Media industry would want to know - such as how cover subjects are chosen, how layouts work, etc. Fascinating and educational.

My only critique is that they didn't interview anyone from outside of the Vogue staff - or in fact any ex-employees except former editors-in-chiefs. It would have been more three-dimensional of an exploration. But anyway, as a celebration of one of the leading American fashion magazines, I thought it was still very good and fair in its treatment of the genre.

January 21, 2007

Almost Girl's Interview with Valerie Steele

Really interesting discussion from Almost Girl. Video here...

I think the issue is that academia (even fashion academics) is really so specialized to people with Masters and PHD degrees who publish in journals and present at conferences whereas bloggers and contemporary fashion journalists generally have such a different background and interest. It's hard to penetrate the ivory towers.

January 20, 2007

Fashion in Art

I really like local (Canadian) artist Emily Holton's series on Karl Lagerfeld. Check her work out at www.emilyholton.com. Have a good weekend everyone!

January 17, 2007

5 things

Well, apparently I have been hit with an Internet meme...by Danielle at Final Fashion. I'm supposed to write 5 things that the world (or most people) wouldn't know about me...

1. I used to work at the public library for 5 years, from when I was 14 to 19, shelving books and teaching computer and reading classes for kids and seniors. It paid really well, and I was seriously considering a career in library science...and then I enrolled in Fashion Design school! Oops!
2. My favourite designer is Marc Jacobs, but mostly that's because I worked there for one summer. He's so brilliant, and extremely kind and friendly.
3. I'm a bit of a technological trogdolyte - I'll only get the second or third edition or versions of new technologies like LCD TVs and Ipods. I'll get it once I know it works well. And is practically ubiquitous. For example, I went on YouTube last week for the first time!!
4. Somewhere in the abyss of Style.com, there's a picture of me front row at a fashion show...by accident...(long story!)
5. I have an interior design blog!

I don't think I'm going to tag people though...is that bad? Well, actually maybe I'll get Almost Girl. I would tag La Femme and Imaginary Socialite but I don't think they know I exist...

January 16, 2007

What consumers want..



Consumers Want

A really great short video - very thought provoking.

January 15, 2007

My favourite of the Miu Miu ads

Can't believe it's LiLo. But these ads have been all over my favourite blogs these days, from COACD to Fashionologie. Oh well, I guess the celebrity formula works. Love the bag too.

Art imitating life...



From Italian Vogue (Source). It's a wonder that it's taken so long for this trend of webcams and online personas and virtual sex to go into the realm of fashion. I have to say though that interesting things have been coming out from Italian Vogue the last year or so - pushing the envelope I guess. Not sure how aesthetically attractive I find the results, or how intellectual it actually is, but hey...

January 14, 2007

Blahnik by Boman



This book was featured over at Just My Cup of Tea. I looked at it a while back in a little bookstore in Singapore, but haven't had a chance to buy. But I do like the angle of "shoe as sculpture'. He should do a similar book with the large FW06 and SS07 platforms from Marc and Nicholas et al...

Eric Boman is an interesting man to work with - nevertheless, this is gorgeous! Plus, it's good to know that he does it all alone, at his little (well, large) house in the countryside. No assistants here! I know some American photographers normally work with 4+ assistants for shoots, and it's nice to know he does everything himself. Well, that's what he told me anyway...

Addicted to Flickr...



Browsing pictures are too much fun, really. And so inspirational.

January 12, 2007

Proenza Schouler / Target


A little simple but love the colours and price points. Some ugly pieces but most are so wearable and fun for spring. And the sizing will fit me! Will be online to order them as soon as they are released.

Thanks I.S.!

My shopping list:
Skinny Pants in Gray $34.99
Checked-Print Button-Down Seersucker Shirt $24.99
Bubble-Print Coat in Purple $44.99

January 9, 2007

Techno Lust

Edit Posts
Not really fashion or theory, but I'm shocked at Apple's latest...the iPhone.

Coming July 2007!!

Editors as celebrities?


I've always hated that Olay (I think?) commercial with the beauty editor's endorsement. What is the fascination with women's magazine editors? Also, what about the impartiality that they are supposed to project? Geez.

In WWD today, Amy Wicks writes:

More magazine readers may be having trouble discerning the difference between editorial content and advertisements, but Elle fashion editor
Nina Garcia apparently had no qualms about appearing in an ad campaign for BlackBerry — set to appear in the March issue of her own magazine. The ad, called "Ask Nina Garcia Why She Loves Her BlackBerry," lists reasons she depends on it for her job. "At the fashion shows, photo shoots, editorial meetings, traveling or shopping, it doesn't leave my side," says Garcia in the ad. What about during filming of "Project Runway"? The question is, does an editor risk losing credibility by momentarily taking off the edit hat for a piece of the ad game? Fashion editors, purposefully or not, regularly advertise a wide range of brands just by selecting what will appear on the cover and inside the pages of their magazines.

BlackBerry said it selected Garcia as a spokeswoman because of her profile from "Project Runway" and her significant role at Elle.

January 6, 2007

Art and Fashion


In tomorrow's New York Times Style section there is a little feature on fashion retailers that showcase "art" alongside clothes and also clothing that is "curated" much in the manner of art. This of course piqued my curiosity but in the end I didn't understand the hype. The clothes are cute but aside from the fact that it's handmade by some hipster - what makes it art? Isn't stock in normal clothing stores also curated - i mean, someone had to buy them...is calling that buyer a buyer and not a curator the difference?

Nevertheless, I think the shoes are killer cute...

January 5, 2007

Something about the eyes...





Same same...not different



Since I just got back from my trip in Asia, where the only fashionable things I did were shop a lot, read fashionweekdaily.com and update my interior design blog for the Toronto Interior Design Show...I've been at home catching up on my magazine subscriptions.

I love fashion magazines. I really do. Heck, I'll be working at a few this year if things go as planned! But it's funny and sad to see the same information, editorials and trends repeated in a way that you only notice when you are reading Fashion, Flare, Cosmo, etc, in succession. There is little original content - because fashion is necessarily cyclical and about small aesthetic steps rather than "real" or sudden change - not to say that the mags aren't educational and entertaining, which is what most readers expect. As well, you'll see the same products raved about in the market pages of the fashion and beauty sections, and the same product-friendly "experts" throughout.

It's just frustrating I suppose to understand the limits of your chosen profession.

In the meanwhile, there are blogs like Almost Girl and Imaginary Socialite to fill the void, at least for me. (Although I should note they have their own unique sets of pros and cons.)

January 3, 2007

Construction


Love these Matthew Ames pieces! Read about him on COACD and had to take a look. He's definetly amazing. I like how the fabrics are simple and elegant, and the cut is what makes the difference! Also, the bright punchy colours juxtaposed with black and white are brilliant.
Just like my favourite Canadian Designer, Jeremy Laing.