My Favorite Patriotic Looks

July 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s the Fourth, and strangely enough it’s non-U.S. designers who are showing their stars and stripes. But why are so many foreign designers using this motif in their collections? Perhaps they’re reacting to U.S. presence in their respective countries. Or maybe it’s a reflection of the U.S.’s power in the fashion market. Whatever the reason, American flag-inspired motifs are having a moment. Here, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites.

Happy 4th everybody!


Balmain S/S 11 (via

It’s my favorite lesbian model Freja again! Here, she’s modeling a look from the “club kid smoking French cigarettes”-themed S/S 11 collection from Balmain. The grit and painterly quality of the flag looks like a reference to Jasper Johns’ “Flag” series from the 1950s.

Jasper Johns, Flag, 1958 (via SFMOMA)


MIharayasuhiro S/S 11 (via

This look from Japanese designer Miharayasuhiro’s S/S 11 collection offers a darker interpretation of American patriotism. The grey, washed out image of the American flag looks as if the flag were up in smoke or inside a war zone. I like the overall mood of the look as well as the sense of movement in the blazer.

Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana F/W 11 (via

For Dolce & Gabbana’s F/W 11 runway presentation, they sent a series of dresses down the runway in what looked like a sartorial version of a 4th of July Parade. The dresses varied from sexy, form-fitting cocktail dresses, to flowy, formal gowns. My favorite look was this lemon-colored, diaphanous, floor-length dress. To me, it represented a celebration of femininity and brought to mind the enormity of the cosmos.

Britney Spears wore a navy version of this dress for the June issue of Harpers Bazaar in one of her best sartorial moments in recent memory. The graffiti background looks contrived, but the dress itself looks light and makes Spears look like an ethereal Mother Universe.


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

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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