Beauty

Can it be a coincidence that the start of the summer cultural season – ie, that time of year when blockbusters hit big screens and beach reads land on bookshelves – has been heralded by two launches that, while they don’t necessarily celebrate consumerism, certainly have it at their core?

Between The Bling Ring , Sofia Coppola’s dramatisation of Nancy Jo Sales’ magazine piece about brand-and-celeb-obsessed teenagers and the criminal lengths they reach, andCrazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan’s novel about lux- and status-obsessed Singaporeans, it’s hard to escape the idea that this will be the summer of stuff. Read more

Once upon a time, to most people, “the woman in red” meant a mediocre 1980s comedy starring Gene Wilder and Kelly LeBrock. Not any more. These days, the phrase is shorthand for the protests in Turkey over the past two weeks. That the latter has so overtaken the former is testament to the power of the image in the age of social media. And clothing has a lot to do with that power.

Just as pre-fall appears in stores, pre-spring (aka resort) appears on runways. But how to make sense of a season that spans from November through to May? The answer for a number of designers: skin. Sometimes yours, sometimes an animal’s, sometimes something that looks like an animal’s.

Last weekend I experienced an unfamiliar clothing trauma (I know, I shouldn’t admit it). Coming from New York, where it was muggy and 32C, to Europe, where it was 13C and rainy, via a stop in London to see the Chime for Change concert, with two black-tie events and a conference on the menu, I was paralysed by the question of what to wear. Having decided June qualified as summer, and having packed away my winter wardrobe, I simply couldn’t get my head around what I knew I needed to bring, which involved the words “cashmere” and “knit”. It felt philosophically wrong.

Generally, as I have written before, I have a wardrobe stocked with clothing bought to solve specific problems (black-tie work events, where you need to be fancy but appropriately covered; pre-work meetings with your children’s teachers, where it’s better not to be too glossy) but the transformation of climate into a fungible concept has proved difficult. Having been trained to think in a spring/summer vs autumn/winter dialectic, I find it difficult to accept a new philosophy. Even though, to paraphrase Francis Fukuyama, it increasingly seems the End of Seasons is nigh.

Dries Van Noten is one of the world’s most successful independent designers. An original member of the Antwerp Six, the group of Belgians who transformed the city into a locus of avant-garde fashion in the mid-1980s, he is sold at more than 500 outlets worldwide, and has won the international award of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).

Elizabeth Peyton is an American artist known for her stylised figurative portraits of well-known people; her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Pompidou in Paris, and the Kunstmuseum in Basel. The two have been friends since 2009.

And so the morality comedy (tragedy?) currently being acted out in public over the importance of appearance continues. Last week at a fundraiser in California, President Obama called California Attorney General Kamala Harris “brilliant,” “dedicated,” and “tough”—and then added she was also “the best looking attorney general”. Guess what everyone wrote about the next day? Guess who had to apologise? Guess what I can’t help wondering? Read more

What does it mean to be the face of a movement? Well, it means, literally, that your face (not to mention the body below it) is a symbol. It means, like it or not, having to take responsibility for how the cause looks – ie, how you look.

And yet as far as I can tell, Sheryl Sandberg, author of the much-ballyhooed third-wave feminist book/exhortation Lean In, does not seem to have realised this – despite putting herself on the cover of the book; despite the fact that she is also on the cover of this month’s new Cosmo Careers magazine supplement because of it; and despite the fact that everyone else is more than happy to discuss it for her.

So you thought the fashion weeks were over for now, and that you did not have to hear about catwalk shows for at least another three months or so (until June, anyway, when menswear begins again). Sucker!

There ain’t room for all of them in this here town. That, methinks, is what etailers are increasingly thinking. Hence, as small ventures stumble upon good ideas, the big players snatch em up, the better to dominate the space. Case in point: the announcement today that net-a-porter will start doing beauty.
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Are semi-obscure male celebrities the most effective way to sell men’s scents? I have to assume the answer to this question is yes, because otherwise why would brands spend what must be a significant amount of money signing up so-so male celebrities to front their cologne campaigns? (Celebrities do not come cheap these days, as sic Lisa Jacobson at United Talent Agency. They all see “ambassador” roles as a prime source of secondary income).

After all, news comes today that Australian actors Eric Bana, left, and Simon Baker, below are fronting, respectively, the new Bulgari and Givenchy men’s scent campaigns. Recognise them? Read more