No, this is not about Michelle Obama’s Get Fit campaign. The issue of size – of one’s body, as measured by the clothes one wears – has always been a touchy matter, not because of national epidemics of obesity, but because of our global individual body dysmorphia. Fashion has been an enabler of this all, not in the way you might think – not because of skinny models, or the deification of youth, for example, though it is certainly a factor in both – but because of its collusion in a less-discussed but equally problematic issue: the total elasticity of size. For fashion, size has become a tool of perception and subconscious seduction – oooh, look, this brand thinks I am so slim! I love it! – as opposed to reality. Except now one company, Alvanon, wants to change all that. And I wonder: Do we really want to know the truth? Read more
Diego Della Valle has thrown yet another cook into the Schiaparelli mix: after announcing Farida Khelfa as the “face” of the brand and Vincent Darre as the decorator of the Maison, today he has revealed that Christian Lacroix will create a one-off couture collection, to be unveiled in July, that will be an “homage” to the late designer. That’s a lot of opinions and aesthetics under one roof. But there’s more (and there will be more)! Read more
When it was announced earlier this week that Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister and the first female leader of a major western power, had died, the tweets and slideshows came fast and fulsome. Of course they did; she was a historic figure. And yet, for all the times that someone said, “She changed the world,” and referred to the Falklands war, and her war on unions, and the end of the cold war, there were as many others who referred to her clothes.
“Very sad to hear of death of Baroness Thatcher. Her memory will live long after the world has forgotten the grey suits of today’s politics,” tweeted Boris Johnson, mayor of London. Katherine Haddon, in an obituary for AFP, wrote: “Behind the bouffant hair, trademark handbag and schoolma’am voice was an uncompromising Conservative who regularly cut her male colleagues and opponents down to size with a sharp tongue and even sharper political brain.” Meanwhile, the slideshows went up almost immediately: “Margaret Thatcher’s style remembered” (HuffPost); British Vogue and Grazia UK did them too. Read more
Right on cue, yesterday Michelle Obama resurrected a previously worn Prabal Gurung dress from her wardrobe to wear for Easter Sunday. It’s not only a holiday-appropriate move, and nicely economic, but underscores the trend she set during the campaign for shopping her own closet, 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. Read more
The finalists and honorees of the CFDA awards are out, and it’s a surprising list. Actually, that’s not true: it’s a totally predictable list, but it’s also an instructive one. It both shows how meaningless it is to define an “American” designer in a world where Americans design for foreign houses, and foreigners show in America, and how, despite the fact that the fashion schedule gets ever-more crowded, there still seems an extraordinarily thin layer of internationally recognised talent. Which points up yet another truth: there is a major flaw in the time logic of the awards system itself.
After last week’s announcement that Conde Nast International had made a significant investment (for them) in Farfetch.com comes news that Advance Publications, ie the parent company of Conde Nast, just led the latest $20 million fundraising round for Renttherunway.com, the web site that allows consumers to rent a catwalk look for an event. The first move got a lot of play, and this one has been slightly quieter (another investor, Highland Capital, issued the release), but put them together and you get what looks like an interesting picture developing, no?
Last night I made my end of fashion week pilgrimage to the atelier of Azzedine Alaïa to see what he has been working on. As usual, Mr Alaïa did not have a show during the Paris collections; he was too busy.
Indeed, he’s got quite a lot to say about the time pressures on designers, and other industry professionals who engage in the catwalk game, to the extent that he’s planning a symposium on the subject. Stay tuned.
Anyway, there’s a lot going on over there.
Starting with the fact he’s not just busy making clothes: he is making the costumes for a French ballet, to debut in April, as well as for a Los Angeles Opera production of the Marriage of Figaro, which will open mid-May. Oh, and he’s getting ready for a major exhibit of his work at the Musée Galliera in the autumn. Read more
People in Paris are still arguing about Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent show, and whether it showed shocking disrespect for history or was a kind of fun wake-up call.
You can find out where I fall in my review, but in the meantime, I thought I’d pass on this picture, left, that a friend sent from a book on Mr Saint Laurent.
It’s from 1965, when the designer opened YSL Rive Gauche to sell ready-to-wear and said “boo!” to the couture system. The picture above right is Hedi Slimane’s collection. Can you really argue these things are unconnected? Read more
We used to do a column on the Style pages devoted to what we called “incredibly obvious innovations”: fashion developments that seemed so “Duh!” when you saw them it was almost unbelievable no one had thought of them before.
For example, straps on the outside of a tote to hold an umbrella so it doesn’t soak everything inside the bag. Or a light on the interior of a purse, so you can actually see what’s inside without having to take everything out first. Well, I have a new candidate, straight from Paris Fashion Week: Neil Barrett’s internal coat strap. Read more