July 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Lady Gaga was this week’s surprise guest judge on my guilty pleasure “So You Think You Can Dance.” She came onto the show with her standard nonchalance and opulent costume, but she also brought with her another special something – a ripe mole on her right cheek. It was a nice addition to her aesthetic repertoire, a bit of “pretty -ugly” to compliment her carefully crafted look.
July 22, 2011 § 2 Comments
Who knew I’d reach stardom this early in my fashion career?
Korean street style magazine Cracker Your Wardrobe (crazy name, I know) included yours truly in their June issue as part of a spread on people who own lots of glasses. I have 10, so I definitely fit the bill. Unfortunately, I left most of my collection under my bed in New York, but I’ve successfully goaded my boyfriend and co-writer Alex into buying a few pairs here in Seoul, so I borrowed some of his for the shoot. Problem solved!
The text in the picture I took is small and in Korean, so you probably can’t read it, but it explains the nicknames of each pair of glasses (which I made up – I don’t name my clothes), their price (don’t look too closely), and their overall “style.”
I was also unexpectedly featured in the “Special Thanks” section. Apparently, the editor who came to my house to shoot the spread, Damee Kim, was impressed with my persistence to communicate with her in Korean and wanted to show her appreciation.
As you might deduce from my cartoonish spread and the cover featuring twins that resemble brunette versions of Napoleon Dynamite, the magazine is pretty zany. I’m grateful, though, that the care-free spirit of Cracker led my first experience in a fashion magazine to be lots of fun. Much thanks to Chang, my friend and Editor-in-Chief, as well as Editor Damee Kim and her photography crew for their kindness and patience with my limited Korean skills.
June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
For almost a decade, the Swedish mega-retailer H&M has collaborated with some of fashion’s biggest designers to offer their customers high fashion at commercial prices. The first line came out in 2002 with a collection by Karl Lagerfeld. Since then, the list has grown to include Commes des Garcon, Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, and Lanvin, amongst others. Italian label Versace, known for its flamboyantly sexy aesthetic, is the latest designer to be tapped for collaboration. But this most recent choice is surprising, considering just a few years ago Versace’s queen bee Donatella explicitly rejected any possibility of doing a line with H&M in an interview with New York Magazine: “I work very hard to put Versace in the luxury section. I think to put the Versace line in H&M would confuse the brand.”
Donatella was expressing the sentiment – once common in high fashion – that luxury and commercial don’t mix. That doing a line for H&M, a store made famous by offering cheap yet trendy clothes, would devalue the brand in the eyes of its rich clientele.
But clearly Donatella has since changed her point of view. Yes, luxury can mix with commercial! And there are already a number of designers who have come to this conclusion. Chanel, for example, shocked the fashion world last year by choosing Blake Lively as its new spokeswoman. In the ’90s, fashion houses used supermodels like Claudia Schiffer or Linda Evangelista as their public face, not teen idols who play superhero love interests. Choosing Lively made it clear that Chanel was going mainstream.
As Chanel demonstrated with Lively, the most popular and probably most effective way for a luxury brand to put itself into the mainstream is by aligning themselves with celebrities. In 2009, Louis Vuitton took this method to another level when it released a line of shoes co-designed by Kanye West. This wasn’t a complete surprise, as Louis Vuitton had collaborated before with artists such as Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami. But no previous collaborator had nearly as much commercial appeal as Kanye, who had already had several number 1 singles and Grammys by that time. Also, Vuitton’s previous collaborators had been visual artists who used their craft to add artistic dimension to existing Vuitton goods. Kanye, on the other hand, was a rapper designing shoes in the dark.
Later that year, in what many consider a moment of delusion, French fashion house Ungaro used a similar tactic by tapping Lindsay Lohan as artistic advisor for their S/S 10 line. Technically, the head designer of the line was Estrella Archs, but the runway show made it clear that Archs was merely serving as Lindsay’s puppet. That season, the Ungaro runway was lined in hot pink, and the models strutted down the catwalk in dresses that looked like chewed-up sticks of bubblegum wrapped around their bodies. To some, they simply read as glorified hooker clothes.
But it seems that the products celebrities create for fashion labels often don’t matter – in truth, it’s only the association that labels care about. For example, although Ungaro’s Lohan collaboration resulted in a critically panned fashion show, the gesture put Ungaro’s name in the headlines in a way that even a stellar collection would not have. As a fashion house that had lost relevance over the years, this was an especially important jump start for the label.
Of all the ways a fashion brand can go mainstream, teaming up with H&M is one of the best. Both H&M and the brand benefit from increased media coverage and revenue, while fashion consumers gain access to the luxury brands they previously could only dream of. In doing a line with H&M, Donatella is just helping Versace stay in the game. We’re just happy she’s playing.
June 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
My favorite thing about male k-pop stars is that they’re not afraid of fashion. In the last year alone, I’ve seen them wear blue leopard print, coats with furry gorilla sleeves, skirts, and a variety of drop crotch pants. But among all the trends and designers I’ve seen them wear, Commes des Garcons has offered some of the most iconic looks for k-pop’s leading men, namely San E and G-Dragon. I first noticed Commes in k-pop last September when I saw San E wearing a Commes blazer with cut-outs while performing his hit “Tasty Mountain” on Music Bank. He wore similar versions of the same blazer at following performances of the same single, as well as on various promotional ads and the album cover for “Everybody Ready?”
When Big Bang made their big comeback this Spring with the release of their album “Tonight,” G-Dragon followed in San E’s footsteps, wearing items from the Commes S/S 11 collection for various performances of their first single of the same title.
In many ways, Commes makes sense for San E and G-Dragon. Although both artists cater primarily to adolescent girls who love everything pop and mainstream, their music offers a depth and texture that is often absent in mainstream Korean music. In “Tasty Mountain,” for example, San E criticizes pop music with a wink, and G-Dragon, who writes many of Big Bang’s hits, constantly brings new sounds and music styles to the Korean entertainment scene. Like Commes des Garcon, their art is high culture that can can translate to a mainstream audience that embraces showmanship, bright colors, and a playful attitude.
Also, Commes makes sense because, from what I can tell, San E and G-Dragon simply have good taste.
June 15, 2011 § 1 Comment
Yes, it’s a pity. Lady Gaga is, in fact, white. If I remember correctly, she’s Italian. I don’t think I would have cared much about this before V Magazine put her on the cover of their Asian issue that launched earlier this month. And there’s not just one, but THREE white Lady Gaga faces on the cover of an issue that’s supposed to celebrate and promote Asian models who are too often underused, and thus underpaid, in the fashion industry.
The issue has many Asians in it: Japanese footballer Hidetoshi Nakata, former Calvin Klein model Jenny Shimizu, and a slew of Asian models walking the runways today. And although I doubt that any of these people could sell more copies than Lady Gaga at the moment, the absence of an Asian face on the cover undermines the magazine’s intentions for creating the issue and demotes the Asian theme into a mere gimmick. The only Asian thing about the cover is the script written on the side that few readers can access. And sadly, the inaccess reinforces the ubiquitous mystique that Westerners create around East Asian cultures.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m a big fan of V. And aside from the cover, this issue has a lot of artistic and intellectual richness in it. The “Girls on Top” spread, for example, beautifully showcases a handful of Asian models who are fairing well in the industry; namely, Liu Wen, Shu Pei, Tao Okamoto, and Fei Fei Sun. And there are interesting articles about Diane von Furstenberg and Dolce & Gabbana are breaking into the Chinese market. Take a look for yourself!