September 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
September 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’m happy to say that none of the featured men resembles a Scout, cowboy, or sailor; although, the Face Hunter guy comes close. That said, enjoy the trend yourself! With caution.
September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
Another Fashion Mole article, “How Can Fashion Create A Better Relationship with Africa?” was reposted on Racialicious. See it here.
Thank you to Editor Latoya Peterson an the rest of the Racialicious crew for their support.
September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
Get Me Bodied
The bodysuit was an unexpected must-have item from Milan this past week. Prada showed a yellow and grey version with streamlined seams emphasizing an hourglass silhouette; Bottega Veneta gave his bodysuit a sportive flair, pairing it with a patterned gym bag; and Moschino took a sexier approach, imagining it in white lace and leaving a circular cutout just above the belly button.
Some designers looked to Spain for their latest collections, introducing looks recalling sultry flamenco dancers swaying to the beat of a drum. They did these looks in bright primary colors – red, blue, golden yellow – and decked them out in wild ruffles and diagonal hems. I loved Emilio Pucci’s interpretation of the look, particularly a blood red crop top with billowing sleeves paired with layered, silken pants. Missoni’s transparent bodice was nice, as was Moschino’s straight-forward approach.
To jazz up the perennial floral trend, Milanese designers gave it some texture, appliquéing flower-shaped cutouts on matching floral fabric. Dolce & Gabbana and Marni pursued the trend full throttle, putting out head-to toe looks with 3-dimensional floral effects. Prada showed us a more subtle, sweeter interpretation on a pink pencil skirt with lemonade flowers. Off the runway, there’s a danger of this trend skewing toward granny-land, but done right, it could add a freshness to many a spring wardrobe.
This season, a number of designers used goat hair to up the luxe factor. The boys at DSquared used long, ebony locks on a mini party dress, adding equal doses of rock n’ roll and Cousin Itt to the collection. An exercise in contrast, Etro used hair in angelic white to embellish an otherwise simple sweater worn over a flowy evening gown. Missoni dyed her goat hair Yves Klein blue, giving a handful of her Spanish-influenced looks a colorful sashay.
The ubiquitous mesh trend we saw at the New York shows carried over to Milan, but instead of imbuing the shows with roughed-up athleticism like at Alexander Wang and Altuzarra, here, it gave the collections a distinct softness. I loved the mesh two-piece dress at Jil Sander. The enlarged pores felt new and recalled a giant, elegant sponge. Marni’s mesh offerings were also of note, done with pores of varying sizes and overlaid with floral appliqué. Iceberg’s mesh tops were the most conventional of the week, used to make simple tanks and shirts.
September 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
This is a precarious look for the average woman. Not only is it a crop top, its body-conscious fit puts mere mortals in danger of displaying a whole feast of unflattering bodily delights: muffin tops, donuts, a gut. But real-world concerns aside, this look is gorgeous. I love the hearty print of blooming yellow flowers and ripening zucchini; it’s an image of bounty. The panel of midriff adds interest to what could have been a stale sundress, and the angular neckline gives the top a structured, yet freeing quality.
Versace’s “Little Mermaid” theme has grown on me. I initially thought it was too sweet, too safe, but I’ve come to appreciate how Donatella toughened up her theme with truckloads of gold studs and allusions to classic rock n’ roll garb. I particularly enjoyed a duo of plump seahorses on what looks like a white leather top. It had a plain girlishness to it, and all the swirls recalled an updated paisley. The skirt it was paired with was also nice, featuring constellations of studs that looked like the shell of a sea urchin.
Raf Simons got the “sports-girl” memo from New York, sandwiching a two-piece, ultra white mesh number in between more conventionally feminine looks. The enlarged pores of the mesh felt new and avoided the athletic cliches we saw at other shows; it also gave a new dimension to Simons’ constantly evolving interpretation of minimalism. The styling of the collection was also in good taste. Putting a thin white dress under the mesh imbued the look with a modest elegance, and the smooth up-dos kept the overall look impeccably clean.
Emilio Pucci puts forth the best prints in Milan. For this look, he took the ubiquitous pastel palette from the rest of Fashion Week and infused it with jolts of cobalt blue. The way the colors melt into each other has an ethereal quality and recalls strokes of watercolor paint bleeding into each other on a canvas. I also love the fluidity of the train. It trails behind the model like a mere memory.
Marni collections generally pass fairy quietly, but this season designer Consuelo Castiglioni put out a booming collection of textured floral dresses that we just couldn’t ignore. For this look, Castiglioni put her own spin on the mesh trend, laser-cutting squares and tear-drops onto a black, burgundy, and marigold frock. The mix of textures is nice, and the overall blockiness channels a modicum of Lego-esque inspiration. The transparent slip underneath the dress offers a soft touch, and the nude sock/heel combination is at once edgy and childishly adorable.
September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
After the sportive looks from New York and the scattered themes from London, the runways in Milan have served up some food for thought in both runway concept and casting. We’ve also seen heftier daywear offerings, a welcome relief from the steady parade of Oscar-centric collections in the past couple of weeks.
At the Jil Sander show, designer Raf Simons widened armholes, lengthened sleeves, and cut hems at mid-calf to create some fresh and sophisticated silhouettes. He introduced a new neckline on a duo of tailored jackets, too, cutting the lapels straight down until they reached a horizontal plane of fabric, resulting in a rectangular cutout exposing the sternum and some seductive side cleavage. In a way, I felt like I was peering into the soul of the model, and more extensively the Simons’ design philosophy. I also enjoyed the crop tops layered over thin dresses and paired with long skirts. They had the sportive nature of a women’s football jersey, but the ultra white palette and smooth surfaces disabled any overt allusions to the NFL and guided the look to the calmer shores of high fashion. The paisley prints were also a boon, done in faint pastels evocative of an Easter egg hunt. They were clean and pared down – purified.
As I take it, Miuccia Prada is a feminist of sorts. She put men in skirts and braziers for fall 2008, and this season she dolled up her women in garb covered in racer flames and toy cars – a comment on objectification. She also loosened her silhouette on a series of cowboy-meets-dandy jackets decked out in retro florals. I think Prada might have been thinking of “freeing the woman” with these looks, putting her girls in wide, roomy outerwear, but I think the effect was a bit too pronounced; the models looked like South Western line backers. The sunburst pleating on some of the skirts was nice. They contrasted well with the tougher, more structured pieces and gave the collection a dose of old-school femininity. Sticking to her concept, though, Prada printed these with streamlined figures reminiscent of 50s race cars, imbuing the looks with an aggressive intellect that might have looked stronger had they been tempered.
Prada has a social conscience – I get it – but her collection could have benefited from a more relaxed attitude and abstracted interpretation of her politics. I do applaud her audacity, though, and the articulation of her somewhat controversial standpoint in an often socially deaf industry. She’s lucky she has the influence and financial stability to design with such bravado.
Dolce and Gabbana served up a delicious collection of sundresses and bloomers printed with ripening vegetables: red peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, red onions. It actually made me salivate. The collection took me back to 1950s Italy, on some scantly populated island with lush gardens, sumptuous food, and a very tan Sofia Loren. There was such a strong sense of history and cinema that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the fluidity of the pleated skirts and the airy, transparent fabrics. I’m also mad for the lace items in ecru and baby blue with big, ebullient flowers scattered about. They were a nice update to their daintier, more run-of-the-mill lace from S/S 11 and gave the looks a nice, soft texture.
I could have done without the rainbow beading that closed the show; it was a bit too Claire’s for me. But at least they ended the presentation on a festive note with their joyous colors and shapes that resembled fireworks. It was definitely a show to celebrate.
I know it’s sacrilege to criticize czar Lagerfeld, but honestly, I wasn’t too hot about his latest collection for Fendi. The color palette could have used a boost, namely the faint peaches and blues that conjured dirty dish water. There were also a number of looks in black-white combinations, like a black shift dress with white collar, that brought to mind a French maid uniform. I’m also not sure how the styling of the collection worked with the clothes. The glittery eyeshadow looked like shimmering face masks and the tousled up-dos channeled “Bride of Frankenstein.” Perhaps these were just deflectors for the clothes.
The strongest items from the collection were two sheer sweaters with thick, imposing cable knits running down the front and back like pillars. They had a strength in their visual weight, yet the transparency gave the look an overall soft, cozy quality.
Next to some of the more cerebral designers at Milan Fashion Week, namely Prada and Raf Simons of Jil Sander, Frida Giannini doesn’t give the sense that she’s thinking too hard about deep concepts or pushing the limits of fashion. But I think that’s ok. After all, her latest show let us know that she knows how put out a collection that is glamorous, aesthetically sophisticated, and commercially appealing – and that alone is a lot to ask. I loved the deco effects on a series of gold, black, and white cocktail dresses, especially one paired with a giant feathery stole. They had a ’20s, throwback quality that made me think of Old Hollywood parties on the top floor of the Chrysler Building. The hard lines also gave a structured, architectural form to the overall easy silhouette of the dresses.
The styling was also notable. The thick eyeliner and slick hair referenced the back up girls from Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” video. All they needed were some guitars and a cold sway.
I initially didn’t notice the first six looks from Bottega Veneta’s show; I was too focused on the black models wearing them. They later closed the show, which added even more confusion. What did it all mean? Perhaps designer Tomas Maier was making a statement on the dearth of black models on the runway these days, or perhaps he was just clawing for some headlines. Whatever the case, I was just happy to see models of color – and some new ones at that.
Once my attention switched to the clothes themselves, I realized that the model casting might be the most interesting part of the show. There were some new textures, particularly slick leather in rich aquamarine and hunter green. We also saw tie-dyed trousers in red and purple, as well as jeans with bleached-out patches at the front. The mixed-media looks recalled the Commes des Garcons F/W 11 collection, which featured a series of dresses made of vintage scarves. The effect here had the same crafty quality, but the way the textures came together (or didn’t) came across as a bit confused.
Milan has a reputation for being tough to break into, especially as a young designer. I think this season has proved as much, with the experienced fashion houses like Prada and Dolce & Gabbana putting out collections that are immense in size, intellectually complex, and fun to watch.
September 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Last episode, Project Runway psyched the designers out by making them think they had to do a menswear challenge. Well – surprise! – it’s this week. Project Runway hasn’t had an all-menswear challenge (designers have had to design for each other, which meant some designers made menswear) since Season 4 when the contestants had to dress Tiki Barber. Menswear strikes fear in the hearts of womenswear designers. “It’s calling upon a different set of skills and creativity,” says Kim. She and Anya are both worried because neither of them have made men’s clothing before. (But to be real, Anya is always doing something she has “never done before.”)
The contestants get to design looks for the band, Sheepdogs, who will be the first
nobodies winners of an online vote to be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone. The winner gets her look featured on the musician in a Garnier ad that will run in both Marie Claire and Rolling Stone. The remaining eight designers are split into two “teams” to dress the four band members. Instead of a runway, the musicians perform two sets, once in each team’s outfits. Tim tells the designers that cohesion isn’t as important as making an individual look. Translation: this is not a team challenge. After learning that the team concept is completely meaningless, it’s every lady for herself.
As for the Sheepdogs, as their name implies, is more folk band than rock star. All four bandmembers are shaggy haired with full-on Yeti beards, and we imagine their aesthetic smells like pot and patchouli on the Haight-Ashbury. The designers get the memo and go for a lot of colors that look like they came from an enema bag – browns, tans, and rusts. The clothes follow suit, which means a lot of fringe, bellbottoms, and tie-dye on the runway.
At the start of the episode, there were eight contestants – half the number at the start of the season (we’re not talking about that silly “pre-show” cut). The midterm report thus far says that this is shaping up to be a competition between Joshua and Viktor, who are the only two contestants with two wins apiece. For his second win, Viktor, presents the most complete look with three well-made pieces: distressed jeans, a Western shirt, and a pleather jacket with braiding and fringe. Michael thinks the whole look is “Mad Max meets Woodstock” and Heidi thinks the jacket is just “insane.”
Joshua is in the top alongside Viktor, dressing his band mate up in white jeans with an exposed zipper at the crotch, Native American print shirt, and fringed vest. Heidi and guest judge Adam Lambert are both hot for the crotch zipper. Heidi says, “He was the hottest guy in the band.” But, as Joshua is wont to do, he overworks the design of the clothes. Guest judge Adam Lambert thinks there were unnecessary details on the jeans: notably the two large brown pockets on the butt and the cuts along the ankles. Nina agrees, “It’s got to be a little bit more natural. When you get to tricky or too design-y, it’s where you go wrong.”
We have to agree with Nina and Michael’s comments this round and say that both Laura’s and Anthony Ryan’s looks were weak. Laura’s color palette of mauve and cranberry felt too matchy-matchy, as Nina likes to say. The cranberry bellbottoms matches the tie-dye shirt that according to Michael, looks like the guy “cut himself shaving.” Nina thinks the look is too feminine saying, “This looks like a lady’s jacket with a silk scarf from the mall.”
Everyone’s a little bored by Anthony Ryan’s sleeveless shirt-white bellbottom combo. Heidi wants the pants to be tighter (of course). Michael thinks, “It’s like a Golden Girl gone rock ‘n roll moment.” And Nina, again, doesn’t like that he looks like a lady. “It looks like a woman’s blouse,” she moans. In short, the judges don’t like men who look like ladies.
Olivier’s attitude was his doom. Again, he had to work with a “real person” (by real person we mean non-model). And again, he finds himself unable to deal with the “challenge.” Despite being a menswear designer, he complains about the relative bigness of the lead singer, “I never really thought of making things for plus-size people.” Olivier returns again to those dull, anemic colors that he seems to favor so much. His pants are the color of drywall and don’t fit the singer. Heidi calls them “dad jeans.” The paisley button-down shirt is too short, and the sleeves, as Heidi investigates, were rolled up to hide the fact that they were simply unfinished.
We think though, that the judges were grading the other contestants in the bottom – Anya and Kimberly – on a curve. Both stressed multiple times that they had never made menswear. In particular, Anya’s caftan-inspired look was a disaster. Heidi and Nina both think he looks like Pocahontas. Michael tells her, “This week we’ve got to see that you’ve only been sewing for 4 months.” Kimberly doesn’t fare any better with her “bowling shirt.” Nina thinks the whole thing is a “pajama party.” Kimberly’s saving grace is, yet again, the pants: brown corduroys that fit well. Anya’s pants, while they fit, were coming apart at the seam on the runway. The judges definitely gave them a bit of a pass for being rookies to menswear while hammering Olivier for failing to utilize his menswear experience. So long, Eeyore!
Next week: Project Runway finally answers the question, “What happens if you lose your money at Mood?!”
September 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
In my years following fashion, London Fashion Week has always come across as an intermission between Milan and New York. Sure, there are a few designers anchoring the week’s shows, forcing editors to pay it some attention, but overall the fashion world seems to gloss over it, resting their eyes and keyboards until they see something spicier elsewhere.
The latest London shows, at least the ones that released images to the public (Tom Ford did not), did nothing to change this scenario. There were a lot of pleasant collections with nice clothes, but nothing really stood out as revolutionary or even particularly trend-setting. We saw a wash of ethereal pastels at Jonathan Saunders, Meadham Kirchhoff, and House of Holland, and some wicked 60s-inspired hair at Mulberry that transformed the models into Femme Bots. But for me, there were a few other collections that I think deserve more attention.
I was expecting to see a parade of short, tight party dresses on Matthew Williamson’s runway. (To be honest, he had only existed in my mind as Lindsay Lohan’s pal from an episode of “The Rachel Zoe Project.”) I was pleasantly surprised, then, to see that Williamson had a lot more to offer than high-end club wear. He didn’t reinvent the wheel with his latest collection – it was a pretty standard offering – but he nonetheless produced a lot of pretty looks that would look great on a lot of women. His floral dresses were nice, particularly the opening number in fiery orange that had a slit sliced right up the front. Some delicate cherry blossom prints came later, most notably on a charming shirt-shorts combo.
Despite the hits, there were a number of misses, including just about everything decorated with thick, shaggy fringe. On one gown, the fringe was placed at the hips to reference the now-ubiquitous peplum, but somehow it managed to transform the model into some sort of deep sea creature, calling to mind dead coral or achromatic seaweed swaying in the water. It didn’t help that the dress was completely shapeless. I mean, I know models are supposed to be skinny, but Zac Posen showed us last week that the right construction can give curves to even the most angular body.
Ex-Balenciaga designer Alistair Carr put out an impressive debut collection for Pringle of Scotland, showing us a controlled, understated show that played with geometric print and draping. The first few looks featured multicolored layers of thick, interlocking lines that brought to mind enlarged threads of a shirt or the covers of 80s math textbooks. It had a retro air to it, but the way the shirt was sewn together as a series of carefully placed panels brought it an undoubtedly contemporary feel. The cable knit prints also stood out, especially a black and white ombre version on a 3/4 length cardigan. It was tongue-in-cheek, referencing the brand’s sometimes stale, conservative reputation but turning it on its head by introducing a digital flair.
My favorite piece from the show was Carr’s take on the little black dress. From the front it looked like three trapezoidal panels floating in space, the edges delineated by thick white lines. The dress sung in its minimalism, and it somehow managed to layer fabric while maintaining a distinct lightness.
For the latest Burberry show, designer Christopher Bailey continued his African artisan theme from the menswear shows last June, decking out his girls in raffia golf hats, anoraks with crocheted collars, and below-the-knee skirts in vivid prints reminiscent of cartoon candy. The prolongation of the same theme from months ago seemed a bit lackluster in our hyper-speed fashion world. There was no suspense once the show started; the anticipation of discovering Bailey’s vision quickly deflating after the first couple of looks.
That said, there were a number of interesting, hip items in this show that I’m sure will strike editorial and commercial gold as spring rolls around next year. We saw more skirts with gathered fabric at the front that I first raved about from Marc Jacobs last weekend. While the skirts recalled crumpled paper bags at Jacobs, here they brought to mind the animated paintings of Roy Lichenstein or artistic renderings of rope. I also loved all of the tight, high-waisted skirts done in various iterations of stripes: two-toned, textured, earthy. They gave the models a nice, sexy shape, but their sober prints maintained an artisanal personality.
London Fashion Week is in dire need of a kick. Perhaps Alexander McQueen should show it some love too; designer Sarah Burton’s vision would be an undoubted boon to the Fashion Week scene and offer it some much needed-buzz. Kudos to Burberry and Tom Ford for holding down the fort and at least forcing editors to stop by and say “hello.”
September 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
After the S/S 11 white out, which featured numerous collections of achromatic summer dresses, pant suits, and evening gowns, New York designers have taken a cue from Jil Sander’s S/S 11 show and infused some blindingly bright hues into their collections for S/S 12. Yves Klein blue, bubblegum pink, and poppy gave vibrant pops of color to a number of runways, while seafoam blue and sand balanced some of the more vivid hues with a calm neutrality.
My favorite palettes for S/S 12 were the various iterations of yellow – mustard, canary, lemonade – each of which complimented the collections in a unique way. Mustard offered a visual weight, canary gave an optimism, and lemonade added a light airiness. Look below for some colors to look forward to next spring.
YVES KLEIN BLUE
September 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
I held my breath when a pale yellow pant suit came down Calvin Klein’s runway last week. There was such an absence in the dress – of color, details, silhouette – but paradoxically it seemed packed with ideas. I loved the transparent bib at the bodice. Its overall shape was soft and delicate like soapstone, and the way it revealed the model’s most private parts, her breasts and heart, channeled an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. I also enjoyed the 70s influence in the slender gold belt at the waist and the slight flair on the pants. It gave the look a small retro kick.
From the tens of reworked and reinvented shirtdresses we saw last week, Bill Blass’s fiery coral version stood out among the strongest. I loved how its color popped against the more prep-influenced hues in the rest of the collection – navy, black, ultra white – as well as how it blurred the line between daywear and evening wear. The shirtdress also had a number of nice details, like an almond-shaped slit that revealed a slice of skin at the sternum. It gave the dress a welcome bit of sensuality that, if absent, would have made the model look like a nun on fire. The cable knit embroidery toward the bottom of the skirt was another nice touch, adding subtle visual texture and working the look into the country club aesthetic of the rest of the collection.
When you think of a designer exploring new fabric, you might think of dyed ostrich feathers, fur scalped from endangered species, or even recycled plastics spun into twine. In his latest collection, Jacobs played with new fabric, but he didn’t have to scour distant rain forests or junkyards to discover something that felt totally new. For a small series of sweaters in glaring, springtime colors, Jacobs recreated the slick, scuba effect of neoprene from simply blending nylon and cashmere. I loved the baseball sweater in canary yellow and sand. It had a youthful quality, but its sophisticated fabric and the look’s theatrical styling let us know that it was strictly grown up. I also loved how Jacobs paired the sweater with a brown skirt that gathered at the front. All the crinkles and amorphous shapes brought to mind a child’s brown bag lunch.
At the Proenza Schouler show last week, designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez used lacquered eel skin to luxe up some pretty exciting clothes. My favorite of these was a striped pencil skirt with a short slit in the front that flashed some leg with every stride. There was something distinctly sexy about its reptilian texture and cautionary yellow stripes that wrapped around the thighs like a poisonous snake. I also like how the top it was paired with, an off-white 3/4 shirt, was edged-out with leather details: a textured collar, a square breast pocket, sleeve panels, a slim epaulet. The overall look had a girlish foundation that was built upon by tough fabrics and an aggressive attitude.
To balance all the mommy outfits that opened his show, complete with Little Miss Muffet bonnets and achingly dowdy pastels, Ralph Lauren sent out a series of show-stopping evening looks to close it. My favorite of these was a simple, floor-length gown done in shimmering silver. The bodice of the dress was elegantly simple, but across the legs streamed curved hems that exploded into a dramatic sea of white silk as they approached the floor. The effect was controlled, yet powerful and conjured the poetic Hokusai print “The Great Wave of Kanagawa”.