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?!”