Mugler’s “Brothers of Arcadia” Video: Art or Porn?

June 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

After suffering through the interminable loading time required of XTube videos, I finally watched Mugler designer Nicola Formichetti’s “erotic fashion film” Brothers of Arcadia (NSFW, obviously). While I waited for the video to buffer, I read the accompanying text where Formichetti says he drew inspiration from neo-Realist filmmaker Fellini, the gleefully debaucherous Caligula, and pornography in general. The “uncensored” version would have to be on XTube because it was so “hot, hot!” Indeed, who doesn’t want to see naked men grind on each other, artistically?

Notice the double underwear (via XTube)

Thus it is with great disappointment that I report that it was just a lot of hot air. There was little in the way of art or porn. Regarding the “explicit sex scenes,” I counted approximately two pee-pees and fairly limp ones, at that. There is, however, a great deal of running and splashing in slow motion. Models wore two skivvies apiece (I guess that’s what makes it a fashion video). You see, they are surfers doubling as Greek gods.

Nomi Ruiz, Formichetti’s new muse who sings the “Mugler” song, appears in the video as a very sexy vamp surrounded by very sexy men. Even if the viewer knows Ruiz is trans, there is very little that is subversive about the orgy scenes because it is all too concerned with being sexy sexy. At one point, some men drizzle champagne on Ruiz, but the shot is so quick and half-hearted that all I could think about was how much hotter it was when Matt Dillon poured champagne on Denise Richards in Wild Things. Meanwhile, the video essentially recycles about every fashion trope there is: models as Greek gods (Karl Lagerfeld shooting the 2011 Pirelli calendar); men suggestively pulling rope (an NSFW shot of Paolo Roldan in French Vogue); the double entendre of milk as semen (at least Terry Richardson had the good sense to use an actual cow udder). Also, at this point, using men as homoerotic subjects is fairly banal subject matter.

The beauty about XTube is its ability to make you – yes, you! – the star. Or rather, porn star. Anyone with a webcam and some spunk can make a video and launch a career. (right, Paris?) We get off on the “authenticity” of amateur porn, because we are watching people who are, conceivably, just like us: imperfect, awkward, horny. It would have been much more erotic had the film actually captured the graininess and immediacy of an amateur sex tape. Instead, the men preen and flex. You know they know just how good they look. Ultimately, like the mythology of Narcissus, Formichetti is undone by his own vanity.

My Latest Obsession: The Panther-Print Bag

June 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

The inner child in me can’t get enough of animal prints. I’m not talking about leopard or zebra prints, but Animal Cracker prints – whole lions and tigers and bears on bags and dresses and t-shirts – oh my!

To wit, Marc by Marc Jacobs just released a line of bags with images of miniature panthers crawling all over them, and they’re adorable!

Marc by Marc Jacobs panther print messenger bag (via SSense)

Marc by Marc Jacobs panther print backpack (via SSense)

Marc by Marc Jacobs panther print duffle bag (via SSense)

Ok, ok – I’m aware that the backpack would make me look like I’m on my way to 4th grade, especially since the nylon fabric looks designed to protect the bag from spilt chocolate milk or a wayward applesauce. But I love how childlike and playful the look is (doesn’t the print remind you of the Jungle Book?). Besides, if I had my choice I’d take the messenger bag anyway. I like the canvas (you know, an adult fabric), the leather straps, and the way the bag folds over at the top. They’re nice details.

The panthers at Givenchy’s F/W 11 womens ready-to-wear show looked much more devilish than the ones at Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Panther print in Givenchy's F/W 11 women's rtw collection (via Style.com)

Panther print in Givenchy's F/W 11 women's rtw collection (via Style.com)

I think panthers might be having a moment, or will very soon. Be prepared to see versions of Marc by Marc Jacob’s bags and looks from Givenchy’s F/W 11 collection at H&M in the near future. If you can’t wait, though, you can at least get all the Marc bags on SSense.com right now. The messenger and duffle bags retail for $90 and the messenger bag for $280.

Color Recap For Paris and Milan Menswear S/S 12

June 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Milan and Paris shows took a different spin on the primary colors, turning reds into coral and berry, yellow into mustard, and blue into an icy cerulean. Designers mixed these with deeper neutral hues of browns and whites, creating a warmer and slightly more somber color palette. This was a shift from a spring/summer 2011 season that was heavy on saturated brights.

My favorite palettes of the spring/summer 2012 season were the corals at Commes des Garcons and Versace, and the dark blues at Armani and Gucci. Mustard, one of the new colors of the season, looked fresh and gave the collections a retro kick. Look below for some colors to look forward to next spring.

Coral

Clockwise from top left: Dries van Noten, Roberto Cavalli, Costume National, Versace, Canali, and Commes des Garcons

Mud Brown

Clockwise from top left: Bottega Venetta, Etro, Missoni, Z Zegna, Burberry Prorsum, and Louis Vuitton

Pool Blue

Clockwise from top left: Bottega Venetta, Martin Margiela, Raf Simons, Canali, Burberry Prorsum, and Z Zegna

Shades of Grey

Clockwise from top left: Commes des Garcons, Bottega Venetta, Gucci, Lanvin, Hermes, and Calvin Klein

Midnight Blue

Clockwise from top left: Salvatore Ferregamo, Gorgio Armani, Gucci, Etro, Missoni, and Canali

Berry

Clockwise from top left: Canali, Gucci, Missoni, Commes des Garcons, Burberry Prorsum, and Lanvin

Bright White

Clockwise from top left: Commes des Garcons, Z Zegna, Calvin Klein, Dolce and Gabanna, Moncler Gamme Bleu, and Bottega Venetta

Mustard

Clockwise from top left: Alexander McQueen, Burberry Prorsum, Roberto Cavalli, Versace, Raf Simons, and Z Zegna

The 5 Best Trends From Paris S/S 12

June 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

5. Skirts

Rick Owens, GIvenchy, and Yohji Yamamoto

Can men wear skirts?

This season, a handful of brands including Rick Owens, Givenchy, Yohji Yamamoto, and Commes des Garcons, exclaimed, “Yes, they can!” and sent out models wearing skirts of various lengths, colors, and patterns. Yohji’s skirts were long and voluminous, in subtle red honey combs or striped prints. At Givenchy, skirts were various lengths and covered in brilliant prints of birds of paradise. At Rick Owens, skirts were floor-length, dark colored, and thick, reminding Times critic Cathy Horyn of a “mudslide taking out a few homes.

4. Reptile

Jean Paul Gaultier, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton

Wrapping another animal’s skin (or fur) around your own may be treasonous in PETA circles, but in fashion, it’s the pinnacle of luxury. Designers in Paris used an abundance of reptile in their collections last week. Louis Vuitton showed the most subtle take of the trend, using brown reptile skin to elevate an otherwise banal letterman jacket. Hermes used it for a simple zip-up summer layer. The pattern looked like untreated snake. Jean Paul Gaultier most strongly embraced the trend, sending down a head-to-toe black reptile look. It had a rock-n-roll kick, but with a wider, more relaxed silhouette.

3. Wide-Leg Trousers

Yohji Yamamoto, John Galliano, and Maison Martin Margiela

For the last few seasons, menswear silhouettes have been getting larger. I haven’t noticed this on the street necessarily, but it’s certainly been true on the runway. This season, trousers were so large they created a parachute-like effect when models walked down the runway. The billowing was sometimes a result of lighter fabrics as was the case with Yohji Yamamoto who showed a delicate collection full of silky trousers paired with tailored blazers. They had the ease of pajamas but were deepened by a feeling of history. John Galliano and Martin Margiela showed similar versions of wide leg trousers, only in stiffer fabrics.

2. Gingham

Raf Simons, Louis Vuitton, and Kenzo

Gingham is a perennial trend in menswear, but this season it was served in fresh color combinations. Raf Simons played with a slightly larger gingham print in bright orange and navy blue, putting it on t-shirts, blazers, and trenchcoats. Against the cold backdrop of mesh steel, it had a somewhat sinister effect, making me think of a fashion-conscious serial killer. Louis Vuitton’s story was about gingham in bright red and cobalt, the colors of African Masai tribes. Overall, the collection looked like the menswear addendum to Thakoon’s F/W 11 collection, which used the same color inspiration. Kenzo paired a light purple gingham with floral print. It looked a bit washed out, but pretty.

1. Colorblocking 

Raf Simons, Acne, and Victor & Rolf

Colorblocking is currently a major trend in large part due to Jil Sander’s S/S 11 collection, which showed a range of tailored items in saturated canary yellow, mandarin orange, and cobalt. The trend continues next summer, although the brights are neutralized with more browns and blacks. In his S/S 12 collection for Jil Sander, Raf Simons colorblocked brightly colored leather shirts and tanks with black pants, creating a visual shock. Acne’s collection had a slight retro influence. One look paired a bright seafoam cableknit sweater with light brown slacks, a simple brown belt, and a shirt with a contemporary take on a club collar. Viktor & Rolf’s collection was flooded with Yves Klein blue. Above, they paired a pair of Yves Klein blue pants with a diaphanous blood orange shirt. Delicious.

The 5 Best Men’s Looks From Paris S/S 12

June 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

The menswear shows for the Spring/Summer 2012 season just wrapped up in Paris. Here are my 5 favorite looks.

5. Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Noten S/S 12 (via GQ)

Dries collections always have a softness about them. Even though the venues – parking garages or construction sites – possess a gritty quality, the clothes have a weightlessness, even femininity, that makes me think of dandelion seeds floating in a breeze. And the clothes are always complemented by simple styling. This season the models’s hair was gently combed to the side.

My favorite look from Dries this season is a black double-breasted blazer, white t-shirt, mustard sandals, and wide, flowy pants in red, white, and black stripes. The blazer has a calm elegance in its bareness, and the subtle design element of the one button on a double breasted blazer feels fresh. The pants, though reminiscent of a carnival in their color and pattern, are relaxed and comfortable.

4. Thom Browne

Thom Browne (via GQ)

Thom Browne collections are always a bit bizarre. Watching them is like walking through a row of funhouse mirrors –proportions are often shrunken or exaggerated, and there’s always an element of mystery lingering about. Why, for example, did models come down the runway yesterday with exposed sock garters and shrunken bowler hats? Were they clowns at a child’s birthday party? Did they leave their trousers at the dry cleaner?

Despite the strangeness of Thom Browne shows, they always have a way of pulling me in for a closer look. This happened with a slate striped blazer with bright orange shorts, round sunglasses, and grey suede shoes. I love how the stripes on the blazer, tie, and shorts go every which way, leading my eyes in different directions, as well as the unconventional proportions of the look. The blazer is long but with shrunken sleeves, while the shorts stretch from the knee to the belly button. It doesn’t make sense, but it somehow does.

3. Commes des Garcons

Commes des Garcons (via GQ)

Rei Kawakubo’s work for Commes des Garcon is an exploration of dyads: black and white, optimism and gloom, the classic and the modern. This season Kawakubo explored masculinity and femininity in menswear, creating a collection that contrasted black with hot pink, leather with lace, and blazers with skirts. The collection resulted in conceptually compelling and commercially covetable looks.

The best number from the collection was a hybrid blazer slash motorcycle jacket worn with a hot pink shirt and shorts. The blazer/motorcycle jacket hybrid was covered in a red and black checker pattern that brought to mind images of a Medieval court jester. I could easily see this piece on a k-pop star with a good stylist and a sense of humor. The pink shirt and shorts are a visual shocker, but I like the pop.

2. Lanvin 

Lanvin (via GQ)

I like the feeling of wanderlust in Lanvin’s collections; there is the vague sense that the models are like nomads circling the desert. I find the image romantic – unmoored but unafraid. And despite the luxury of the fabrics, there’s always a prevailing casualness to the overall look. To me, this is where the sophistication of the collections lie, in the idea that you can wear brilliantly crafted clothes and not have to brag about it.

The highlight of Lanvin’s latest show was a shiny, midnight blue blazer with a grey shirt, navy pinstripe shorts, and black leather shoes. What I love most about good monochrome looks like this is that they force the viewer to focus on more subtle design elements like texture and proportion. The blazer was made of a slick material that resembles molten metal, and it changes color with the light. The shirt and shorts have a feminine proportion – long shirt and short shorts – that works harmoniously with the tailoring of the blazer.

1. Junya Watanabe 

Junya Watanabe S/S 12 (via GQ)

Junya’s presentations don’t always scream luxury. The models, for one, are decidedly un-model-y. Each looks like a poorly groomed hipster with a bad hangover and a slight paunch. The clothes aren’t made of luxe fabrics like lacquered reptile skin or vacuna fur, but rather, just cotton or even (gasp!) synthetic fabrics. But despite the lack of glamour and glitz, Junya’s clothes always shine.

This season, Junya, too seems to have been influenced by the farm-to-table movement overtaking Brooklyn. The men’s presentation took place in a garden, where models strolled around in overalls, jeans, patched shirts, hunting coats, and wellies. The highlight of the show was a denim shirt and jeans worn with forest green duck boots, and accessorized with a simple brown belt and a denim hat. Both the front of the shirt and jeans were covered in patches made of different colors and patterns like pale yellow paisley, blue plaid, and white stripes. The stitching around the patches varied as well, from bold reds to ultra-bright whites. I like the playfulness of this look. It’s a little bit country and a little bit hippie, but the thoughtfulness of the pattern combinations gives it a sophisticated polish.

My Favorite Lesbian Models

June 24, 2011 § 5 Comments

While everyone knows that fashion is run by gay men, people often fail to recognize the pivotal role that our female counterparts play in the industry. To highlight the presence of lesbians in fashion, as well as to celebrate Pride and the recent legalization of gay marriage in New York, I’m going to offer you a list of my favorite lesbian models working today.

3. Tasha Tilberg

Tilberg on the cover of Marie Claire Italia, October 2009 (via Models.com)

At a time when “blank canvases” dominate the industry, Tilberg defies convention with a number of tattoos, piercings, and earlobe gauges. In the last few years she has modeled for powerhouses Lanvin and Alexander Wang.

I personally love this photo of Tilberg on the cover of Marie Claire Italia circa October 2009. Amidst all the pink and purple text emerges a tough, soft-butchy lesbian in a black leather jacket with studded collar á la Dykes on Bikes.

2. Jenny Shimizu

Jenny in Dossier (via Models.com)

I once saw butchy model Jenny Shimizu at a place forbidden to most models – a bakery. (Billy’s, actually, on 9th ave). I’m not sure if she ate anything, partly because turning my head any further would have led to  me burning holes into her with my eyes.

Shimizu was working as a mechanic when Calvin Klein scouted her for their CK1 fragrance in the 90s. Short-haired and tattooed, she defied popular images of female models at that time – stick-thin with a coke habit. In interviews, she has confessed to having been in relationships with ambiguously queer celebs like Angelina Jolie and Madonna, for whom she would conduct regular “booty calls”. Although she has been laying low in modeling for some time, she had a shining moment last year when she walked the runway at Kenzo’s Menswear S/S 11 show in Paris.

1. Freja Beha Erichsen

Freja in The Last Magazine, F/W 10 (via Models.com)

To be honest, I didn’t really get Freja’s look at first – bulbous, skeletal, a bit asymmetrical – but over time I’ve learned to appreciate her somewhat unconventional face and tomboy edge. I especially love when she’s modeling for classically feminine brands like Chanel, for whom she’s served as the muse for the past several years.

Notice the tiny shadow of ink on the left side of her neck in the picture above. It adds just the right touch of roughness (and, well, lesbianism) to the look. C’est magnifique!

Now Trending: The Safety Pin

June 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

I get the impression that critics don’t take Balmain seriously. And I get why. It seems that for them, fashion isn’t about concept so much as offering wealthy people cute clothes to wear clubbing.

But despite Balmain’s questionable sophistication and often astronomical prices, there’s no doubt that women love it. This summer, on the street and in the blogosphere I’ve seen quite a number of looks from their S/S 11 collection, which offered a selection of leather jackets, skirts, and shirts covered in safety pins. The overall aesthetic was hip and downtown, and it brought to mind club-happy teens smoking French cigarettes.

Balmain S/S 11 (via Style.com)

I’ve seen one jacket in particular on several street style blogs, as well as on CL in 2NE1’s video for “Lonely.” The detailing on the back is insanely intricate.

Balmain jacket on the street (via littlejimmysgirl)

Balmain jacket on the street again

CL in 2NE1's "Lonely" video

And whenever a hit designer item comes along, knockoffs are not too far behind. For whatever reason, Britney Spears wore a Balmain-inspired jacket for her video “I Wanna Go.” Notice the safety pins dangling around the collar of her jacket, as well as in rows on the right shoulder. It definitely encapsulates the Balmain look but the brightness of the white makes it look cheap.

Britney in "I Wanna Go"

I’ve also seen a number of large safety pins used as accessories on street style blogs, such as this one on FaceHunter.

Large safety pin accessory (via FaceHunter)

The safety pin phenomenon has clear roots in punk subculture – I’m sure legions of punk scenesters once used safety pins to hold together rips they acquired at concerts or riots. But Balmain’s appropriation of the punk aesthetic goes against certain core values of punk subculture, most obviously anti-consumerism.  This brings to mind the question of what the punk aesthetic means today. Do safety pins and studs still communicate rebellion and anarchy as they did in the 70s, for example? I don’t think so. At least in the fashion world, the only thing these details symbolize today is simply indulgence.

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