Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Last night as I started pondering the weekend shopping extravaganza ahead for the holidays (I'm an early shopper and like to have everyone crossed off my list come the first week of December), I came across this amazing stocking stuffer.

When I first saw it, my eyes literally bulged out of my head and I was stunned into an ecstatic state of speechlessness (and trust me, that's hard to do.) A Karl puppet finger! I had to have it...immediately...and my goodness, just one simply would not do! I needed ten, lest one deprived finger become jealous of the other!

My, my my, the series of questions that raced through my head when I divined further details. What is this etsy website that's hawking this most coveted of items? And who is mullish muse, the alleged hawker? Then the disappointment hit (formed into yet another question). Why, oh, why, is this item sold out?

The morning after, I still haven't figured out this etsy thing, other than that it seems to be some sort of ebay for crafters. And as for mullish muse? Well he, or she, is importing these little Karls from Mexico! My disappointment dissipated immediately. Without saying, this is a faux Karl and not a genuine thing by any stretch of the imagination since a real Herr Lagerfeld could never be hecho en Mexico.

Mullish muse did get one thing right, though. His size. Apparently felted Karl will only fit "very thin modelesque type fingers, pencils, or pipe cleaners". But the dead giveaway? Little Karl for the digits is wearing a hand-sewn suit with a stylish tie and starched collar, but only "Italian-like". Italian-like? Karl would shudder at the thought in his made to measure tailleur!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some things are just a little far fetched to ignore. Not that I'm not dying to write about news that H&M will next be teaming up with Matthew Williamson for their next designer collaboration (which makes perfect sense since Williamson will no longer be making extra cash at the helm of Pucci since he's decided to focus on his own label...though I was disappointed it wasn't Westwood).

But at yesterday's Luxury Briefing Conference in London, a former Morgan Stanley analyst predicts that we'll be seeing a big shift towards African influenced fashion. Why, do you ask? Well, as if it weren't obvious, because of our new US president-elect Barack Obama, of course!

There's a highly technical journalistic expression called silly season. It usually occurs in a lull of news, and is marked by an upsurge of, well, silly stories. And it's not that there isn't a wealth of stories to read now in fashion, but because of the economy, most of them tend to be quite awful and depressing.

Does that explain the seeming craziness of Claire Kent's remark? No. I mean, generally analysts tend to well-informed gatherers of information. And it's not that Obama hasn't already influenced the likes of Franca Sozzani in her pivotal all-black Italian Vogue. But to take it all the way to Africa, well, just because the man happens to born to an African national (forget that his mother was white or that he was born and bred on American territory and has hardly even traveled to Africa) that is just absolute silliness.

Which is not to say that we might just see some African influences in fashion cropping up here and there. Look at how beautifully YSL was influenced by it. And as we all know, fashion, like the economy is cyclical. It's been a while since we've seen many tribal prints, which are great for summer. And if my fashion calendar is on target, we're due to see some summer collections in January. But believe you me, I won't be straining to look for any African influences, or wondering whether I should match my blue to the color of Obama's inaugural suit.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I have to admit my list of favorite people is as varied as the ocean is deep. If you've read this blog before, you must have divined by now that Herr Lagerfeld ranks right up there on the list. His style is impeccable, his intellect sharp, but it really is his sense of humor that makes my heart go pitter-patter every time I read a new one-liner he's uttered.

Maybe that's why I'm such an admirer, no, an outright adorer, of Rosie O'Donnell. When Rosie was on that-daytime-show-that-can-not-be-named, I used to DVR the darn thing religiously, and fast forward to all the parts where she was talking so I could filter out all the other, ahem, "bits" I was loathe to watch.

Why do I love Rosie so? Okay, she's no style maven, that's for sure. But dare I say it, fashion isn't everything. Rosie, to me, has always seemed to possess a sound moral compass, despite protocol or so-called social norms. She's a girl who follows her heart, and that, for me, is a girl after my own heart.

So when I saw the previews for her new variety show, well, my heart did another pitter patter. My Rosie dose won't be daily, but it'll be enough. And you can bet I'll have the popcorn, generously buttered, ready to go this Wednesday at 8.

Friday, November 21, 2008

So while my list of designers going out of business grows ever longer, it's nice to hear of a comeback or resurrection now and then. Once mammoth retailer Steve & Barry's is finally liquidating (no surprise there), Bill Blass is closing house, (not there either), but veterans Jean de Castelbajac and Romeo Gigli are seeing a revival.

De Castelbajac may not be a name that most would recognize, though Katy Perry brought him some hot press when she wore a dress by the designer bearing the sequined visage of our new president elect at the MTV Awards. Having fallen victim to the financial crises months ago, Swedish firm Atlas Design Group has given de Castelbajac a second lifeline, so we'll be seeing more pop-art inspired designs from the Frenchman for at least another season.

Now on to the more interesting news of Gigli's new line: Io Ipse Idem. Since having lost the rights to his name following a dispute with his former backers, Gigli is teaming up with new investors and a former exec of Pucci and will show next season in Paris.

In his heyday, Gigli was often regarded as the soft and romantic counterpoint to Armani's hard shouldered power suits, which ultimately seemed to have won out. It'll be interesting to see if Gigli's woman has been able to change with the times, a progression I often wonder whether Armani's client has been able to make.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh, Saks is bleeding money, Lucky Magazine is throwing a couple of editors to the curb, and Allegra Hicks is filing for bankruptcy in England. But not all of us are hurting in these trying times. Trust Karl (and Prada, if you´ve read about the new Miu Miu store opening here in the city and rumors of Katie Holmes gracing the co´s next ad campaign) to come through for us and offer a shimmer of light at the end of this bleak and seemingly never-ending tunnel.

Since his recent sojourn here in the US, all us Karl fans (of which you can count me numero uno) learned of his love of ipods (along with Pennsylvania Dutch wheat bread and I Can´t Believe It´s Not butter). But how´s a man like Karl to store his digital devices? Not just in style, but in luxury.

According to the Luxist, Karl doesn´t just stuff his mp3 players into his pockets like all us mere mortals, however bespoke his may be. No, he has Louis Vuitton custom make a trunk, crafted of black Taiga leather, brass fittings, and a sleek microfiber interior. The Karlcase not only carries 20 ipods, it also holds a compartment for speakers and a subwoofer. To top it off, KL´s initials are embossed on top, less some knuckle head think that this valise could possibly belong to someone else.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Last night was a late night out for me celebrating a little someone's birthday. So before going to bed, in order to wind down, we turned on the tube to watch a little Letterman, a big treat for me, since he's on way past my normal bed time.

And what a treat it was. Who did he have on as a guest? Well, none other than the first lady of France, the inimitable Carla Bruni.

Okay, okay, so I have to admit, when she first stepped out on stage, I asked myself, was she traveling without someone to do her hair because I have seen her tresses looking better. But as soon as she opened her mouth and I heard that voice, that voice, I could easily see why the elected leader of la Republique de la France, as well as ther rest of the world, is completely smitten with her.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Last night's news that Alexander Wang swept the CFDA/ Vogue Fashion Fund and its $200,000 prize was so expected, it was hardly newsworthy, at least in my blogging book. His career trajectory since launching his eponymous line has only known one direction, and that's been a very fast and vertiginous up.

What's more interesting to me this morning, is news that Pierre Bergé has been keeping himself busy following the loss of his partner, Yves Saint Laurent, some months back. Bergé is planning a ginormous retrospective of the late couturier in Paris, which is slated to take place in none other than the beautiful Petit Palais.

Some 5,000 couture garments will be shown, among a dazzling number of 15,000 accessories, sketches, and sundry objects showcasing YSL's work over the span of his forty-some odd years designing.

Unfortunately, the exhibit won't take place until 2010, which has me wondering if I can even organize my travel plans that far out ahead. Since the euro has been so strong against the dollar these past couple of years, my trips abroad have been cautious anyway. But since economies and forex markets are cyclical, I'm hoping that in two years time, business will be booming, and the dollar will be holding its own, which means a trip to Paris to me, along with some good shopping.

Monday, November 17, 2008

In case you missed this last week, Cathy Horyn had a shot of Lagerfeld on her blog, from before he had discovered thumb rings and pony tails, and eons before his favorite drink, Pepsi Max, had even been invented.

It's hard to tell by the shot, but apparently mini Karl is wearing lederhosen. If you know your German, that's leather trousers, literally translated, or leather knee britches typically worn by little boys in Germany and Austria.

At that age, Karl was still probably thought to take over the family condensed milk empire. What I can't get over is how simultaneously happy and mischievous he looks.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I heard this song again yesterday, the first time in a long time since it was released last year. And despite the grey, wet weather outside, it had me tapping my toe as I sat sipping my tea in my old man's tatty sweater.

When I was in college, especially during my first year, to beat the winter blues of Chicago, I used to lock myself up in my room, turn up the tunes, and dance around by myself as if there were no tomorrow. Sorry, no air guitar for me. (Not to offend any air guitar aficionados, but the only people I used to see who pretended like they knew the riffs of a song were always the geeks who stood around at concerts, nodding their heads maniacally to the beat, when they couldn't tell their C chords from their E flats to save their lives.)

Back to the Mitchell Brothers who, incidentally, aren't actually bros but cousins. They're a product of this genre bending new generation of rap, hip-hop and pop, ranking right up their with one of my favorites, the more soulful Unklejam. Which brings me to ponder, since both these groups hail from England, whether or not that little island below the North Sea is a ripe ole petri dish for this kind of stuff.

Is it coincidental that these two guys of African descent are singing about another black guy named Michael Jackson? No, I think not. But race aside, I think it's a pretty universal given that Michael, back in the day, had some pretty rockin' moves. And that his red leather pants and sequined gloves changed the course of fashion for millions of prepubescent kids like myself, and apparently, for The Mitchell Brothers, too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

With Madge in LVMH, & Daisy Lowe rumored to have scored both Marc by Marc and DKNY, the latest leaked pair-up has got me in a bit of a tizzy...Pamela Anderson in none other than the Queen of Punk, Vivienne Westwood.

I have to admit that since Pammy's cameo appearance as the object of desire in funny film Borat several years back, I had gained a newfound appreciation for the buxom babe. But whereas before, I had had none at all, my new 'tude about her wasn't a ground-moving moment of epiphany by any stretch of the imagination.

The more I think about it, though, she would look gorge in some funky Vivienne Westwood (then again, who wouldn't?). When you scroll through the galleys of Getty and Wire Images, you do see there are quite a few pairings of the odd couple.

As Comme des Garcons hits H&M stores today, the question that keeps popping in my mind is, when, oh when, is Miss Westwood announcing her own deal with the mass retailer?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Okay, I guess I could write up all the news about Madonna starring in the next Louis Vuitton campaign, ponder about whether Madge and Marc's shared obsession with workouts brought the two of them together, ruminate on whether they dished on each other's highly publicized love lives and break-ups. But no. I came across this Q&A of Jussara Lee in New York Magazine, one of the few publications I actually have a chance to read nowadays, usually on the train, as my New Yorkers pile up shamefully atop a stack of books I bought last Christmas in the corner of my office. It struck a chord with me, maybe because the woman makes all her own clothes, or because of her singular admiration of the fitted shirt (with no darts!), or simply because she's eked out a livelihood in fashion. So to do the woman justice, I've lifted the entirety of the interview, word for word, for you to read.

Brazilian-born designer Jussara Lee is a fashion veteran, having worked in the business for nearly twenty years. The Fashion Institute of Technology graduate launched her first ready-to-wear collection in 1991, participating in the Bryant Park/Seventh Avenue/wholesale scene for ten years (and twenty seasons) before chucking it all in 2001 in favor of a made-to-measure boutique in the meatpacking district that's become a go-to spot for hard-to-find, well-crafted labels like shoes from Sue London, hats from Worth & Worth and Magar Hatworks, Brelli umbrellas, and Eairth jeans. We caught up with Jussara to talk about how fashion has changed, why Sex and the City fashion needs to go away, and more.

You call your look understated elegance. Why?

People have a tendency to infringe their taste on others. It's understated because that is just my opinion: that elegance is desirable and that the clothes I make are the most well balanced.

If you could describe the woman who you want to wear your clothes, what would she be like?
Guilt-free women who can't stand looking like anything but the best.

You've been in the business almost twenty years. How have you seen fashion change?
It has lost its integrity in a way because everyone is into it but they all follow the same path, so that's why the trends — I don't respond to them. Fashion is my profession; it's not entertainment to me. I'm constantly thinking, what's going to make someone look good. I'm not very into the celebrity scene. The whole Sex and the City thing was a huge influence on ordinary people. It looks too done up to me. It's too much hair. Everyone looks like they've spent too much time, too much money, and then in the end everyone looks the same. It's curious that people would go the whole extent to look so the same.

How do you respond to challenging moments in fashion?

I had a moment after September 11 where I thought it was so hard, and I didn't want to do it anymore. But that's when I was celebrating ten years of the Seventh Avenue thing. It was the perfect moment to say "I'm bailing out" — downsizing, forget about wholesale, just do something that I think is good. And if it works, good. And if it doesn't, I'll figure out how. It was a very difficult moment. But if you're passionate about it, it's worth it.

Do you think the economy is affecting your business?
I'm oblivious to what goes on. I haven't really felt it yet. I think it's because the people that come and order clothes, they buy it knowing it's not an excess, it's long-lasting. Who can't use a great black jacket? That's what we convey. They don't think they're splurging if it can last a long time. You just need to be able to afford it, which is a bummer.

What's the first designer item you ever bought? Probably Jean Paul Gaultier. I was attending FIT and he was the shit – just so much fun and very revolutionary to me. It was a jacket, tailored and black. And it had a fun lining. It was over $1,000.

What designers or labels do you actually wear the most?
I'm cheap. I make my own clothes.

Where do you shop?

I only shop for groceries: Yoga Center on 13th Street is the best and any farmer's market.

What's one thing you really want to buy right now?

A snowsuit for my goddaughter.

What's something that every woman should have in her closet?
Fitted shirts but please no darts! Shirts are very pure piece of clothing, an ancient part of wardrobe. If you put darts in it, you are suffocating the whole purity of it, when you can achieve that fitted look without darts if you just cut it right.

What's something you can't leave the house without?

My hairpins — it's all about hairpins.

Jussara Lee, 11 Little W. 12th St., nr. Ninth Ave. (212-242-4128); daily (11–7).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Business is not precisely booming, so if I were minding my p's and q's, I'd do my virtual window shopping with more than a modicum of restraint. Plus, since I'm waiting for the CdG collection to hit H&M (3 days and counting), my shopping budget for the week is close to its limit right now.

But is it just me, or is there an abundance of things on offer? Window shopping on net-a-porter this morning, there are so many things I would love to!

Then again, maybe the economic woes are hitting more people than just those (like me) whose livelihood is based on the perilous ups and downs of the retail industry. People are shopping less, leaving more goods on the shelves, or web pages, of heretofore recession-proof luxury havens. (Oh yes, times are desperate enough where I'm whipping out my heretofores...hey! watch out....I see an irregardless coming this way!)

Just jiving! Call this an early Christmas list, but here is a visual list of things I'd buy if I had a couple of easy grand lying around the house that didn't have to go towards our mortgage or my production orders.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Its hard for me to believe that its been 10 years since I first started seeing the Smart Car whipping around Europe, but so it has. And how does the feisty little 4 wheeler decide to celebrate? Well, in style of course, by launching a limited edition designed by none other than luxury maker of all luxury goods, Hermes.

While the car hasn't quite caught on stateside (apparently some man in Texas bought only the 20,000th since the micro car starting selling here), they have become somewhat of a fixture to urban life in Europe. What other car can be parked perpendicularly to the street with ease, a godsend in the winding streets of major European capitals? And while even I have wondered about the safety of such little contraptions in the event of an accident, they are feat of German and Swiss engineering, having been built by the pooled resources of none other than Mercedes Benz and Swatch.

Okay, so the Hermes edition comes with a hefty price tag: 38,000 euros. But considering most of us will never be able to even get on the wait list for a Birkin bag, the car does come equipped with enough Hermes interior leather to make up for that great disappointment in life. Imagine the joys of zipping around the city with thousands of dollars worth of Hermes hide beneath our bums?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Catching up on Rossellini Porn

Back when I first wrote up this series, I couldn't find Green Porn on my DVR to record, and so only just found it again last night on The Sundance Channel. But since then, a whole slew of episodes have been shown, so we're playing a bit of catch-up time.

To borrow some words made popular again by ALT, my favorite fashion editor of all time, Rossellini really is all that...and a bag of chips.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Call me lazy, or off my game. But when I saw Michelle Obama in that stunning red & black number late Tuesday night, I couldn't for the life of me figure out who she was wearing. (And trust me, I can usually call them 9 out of 10.) So patiently, I waited, and late yesterday, the credits started leaking. Narciso Rodriguez Spring 2009.

And then the inferences started shooting off in my head like a circuit board gone haywire. Well, of course, she had to wear designer on one of the most historical occasions this country will see for many generations to come. I mean, considering all the rallying & fundraising spearheaded by Anna Wintour, no big surprise that the dress came from a designer from 7th Avenue. Pretty soon, I'm sure, Narciso will come out with the story of just precisely when and where he met Michelle, and how he & she collaboratively decided she would wear that dress.

The timing couldn't be better for Narciso, who just recently dissolved his partnership with Liz Claiborne. I'm sure it couldn't have been easy for Narciso to part with all that cash, but when you're working with a company whose target clients' tastes run more mass and comfort, than chic and designer, well, I can certainly understand.

As for Michelle color-coordinating the entire family? Normally I'm not a gal that needs to color coordinate anything. In fact, it looks a little cheesy to me and I, more often than not, go to great depths to make sure my shoes never match my bag, or my belt (much less my husband). Maybe I was swept up by the fact that I was witnessing what will perhaps be the single most historic moment of my generation (unless, of course, Hilary can sweat it out a term or so, get back on that campaign trail, and on the party's nomination ticket). But gee, I thought the whole Obama clan looked stunning.

And Michelle? She's no Carla Bruni, but she'll give the French supermodel a pretty good run for her money. I just can't wait for the first official state visit from the Sarkozys to see what the gals will be wearing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oh, happy day. Target confirms the rumors that have been swirling since early this year that Brit bad boy designer Alexander McQueen will launch a capsule collection come next March.

It was only time before McQueen caved in, especially since designer of all designers Rei Kawakubo has let open the floodgates with Comme des Garcons' collaboration with mass retailer H&M.

Okay, so the new project won't draw from McQueen's designer line, but McQ, his diffusion label aimed at a younger, hipper customer. But who cares, really? And his inspiration for the collection? Muse Leila Moss, lead singer of The Duke Spirit, a Brit rock and grunge band that first came to prominence in the late Eighties.

Moss reminds me of a cross between Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde. Now, if I could only figure out how H&M will top this once Comme des Garcons flies off the shelves next week. Galliano? Gaultier? Marc?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I have to say that I've been a big fan of the return of the supermodel. Remember when those girls wouldn't get up in the morning for less than $10,000, and then had the gumption to brag about it? They partied all night, and still looked great. And they were real women. Not that I have anything against some of the girls modeling today, but most of them are prepubescent waifs compared to the supermodels of yesteryear.

So when I turn the pages of a magazine and see Claudia in Chanel, Naomi in YSL, and Linda in Prada, I can't help but to ogle at how divine these women still look. Which makes me all the more puzzled about Cindy's spread in French Vogue. Is it just me, or doesn't it look like her body's been Photoshopped to a disproportionate Barbie size?

This wouldn't be the first time that Vogue and other fashion rags have gone a little crazy with its digital retouching. Or maybe I'm wrong, and Cindy's been working overtime with the Pilates. But the great thing that I remember about her, and the women who put first "super" into model, was that they were real women, with real bodies.

Cindy was never the malnourished waif, she had curves. And at 40 with two kids, you'd expect that after having established a career as a real woman inspiring other women, she finally would have resisted caving into the unrealistic ideals that a fashion editors hold women to today.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Having traveled to Asia and back in the span of 3 days, perhaps my brain is still in somewhat of a spin. But despite news finally confirming Marco Zanini's move to Rochas, there's still so much I don't understand.

Okay, so my powers of deduction would lead me to believe that there's a lot more going on at Halston than meets the eye. But in my limited experience, that's no anomaly in fashion, where craziness is the norm in most houses. Though Zanini didn't win over the critics with his first two collections there, they sold reasonably well, especially overseas. And in these tough economic times, that has me wondering again about the decision to cut him loose at Halston.

No worries, since he's landed rather quickly at Rochas. But there's another house I wonder about. Perhaps I should be relieved that the brand is under new management, since Gibo Co. SpA inked a global licensing agreement to take over the collection from Proctor & Gamble. P&G, if you remember, shuttered the house in 2006 when wunderkind Olivier Theyskens was designing. Though Theyskens' work won universal critical acclaim, and every young starlet wanted to don his high ticket gowns on the red carpet, you can imagine that sales for such high end goods would be limited. What I've never understood, though, is why the suits at P&G didn't try a bit harder to curb Theyskens' creative energies into a more commercial product, because letting such a talent go must have been the single-most erroneous decision made in this decade.

But then Theyskens landed at Nina Ricci, another house he's turned into creative gold, and Zanini at Rochas. Life goes on, designers come and go, and the boards of such companies will always be at odds with creative.