Friday, August 29, 2008

MC Karl!

In Harper Bazaar's September issue, Karl fesses up: He wants to be a rapper!

Well, I'd say he's halfway there. Heavy jewelry, check. Multitudinous entourage, check. Pimped out pad, triple check, in Paris, New York, and Monaco.

It makes me wonder who's on his playlist? And since he spends most of his time in Paris, does he hang low with my favorite French rapper, MC Solaar?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cuckoo for Karl

If you think I'm a little cuckoo for Karl, well, I am. A documentary was made about the modemeister, which I'm dying to buy on my next trip to France. Here's the trailer. (Oh, it's like an amuse-bouche that just tickles the tongue, but reminds you how hungry you still are!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Midweek with Karl

Are you tired of it yet? Here are a couple of quotes that may just make you fall off your chair laughing, as I almost did. They are taken from an interview that was published recently in The Times of London.

"I have no problem with journalists – many are friends. Only if they are really stupid, or if they’ve got bad breath, or if they smell. Yesterday I had a problem. I said, ‘I’m sorry, you’ve got to tell this woman that she needs to be taken away. Her smell is not possible.’"

"On his constant consumption of Pepsi Max and whether the caffeine explains why he talks so quickly: “No, with the stupid things I say I can’t take my time."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

W Magazine has this latest update on the Kaiser in its September tome: Karl is designing bears! And at $1500 a pop, you too can snatch up one of these 2500 limited edition toys, available exclusively at Neiman Marcus.

I have to admit, these ursine mini Karls are pretty darn cute. And despite the price tag, I'd bet they'll sell out in a week. Plus, who can resist Karl's sales pitch on bears? “Bears are very nice, as long as you are nice to them." Yes, Karl, true words of wisdom.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's been a while since this came out, and the commercial was probably even more stellar than the clothes themselves. One of the best ads in fashion, if you ask me, ranking right up there with the iconic Chanel Egoiste ads. (A reference is actually made to those legendary Egoiste shots near the start.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

With the rollout of fashion week across the globe, Japan Fashion Week will be one of the first to start on September 1st. This oft overlooked event seems to be getting a push on the pr front to compete against its more high profile sisters in New York and Paris.

Whether or not the lack of attention is deserved since the more critically acclaimed designers tend to migrate elsewhere (Rei & Junya, Yohji, Issey, Kenzo..) is an issue for another day. But one of the more interesting designers that I always look to is Ato.

Ok, so his womenswear collection still seems to be finding its own. But his menswear, which I used to see on occasion selling in Paris is quite stunning, and this coming from a designer who professes no interest in menswear.

What's interesting to note is that Ato is one of the more established designers who shows regularly in Japan, but he's not a household name elsewhere by any stretch of the imagination. His core business remains in Japan, which may not sound like a lot. But considering that the small isle is still in the top ten of most populated countries, there are enough shoppers with disposable yen to keep any designer in business.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Domino's September issue should be an interesting read with a full spread featuring some notable stylistas in their home digs. Carine Roitfeld in her ultra modern uber chic nearly all-white apartment overlooking Les Invalides in Paris, Matthew Williamson in his mad for color flat in London, and Christian Louboutin's relaxed ethnic inspired home in Portugal.

But for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why Christian Lacroix wasn't included in the mix. If the boutique hotel Le Petit Moulin, which was designed by the couturier, is anything to go by, I'm sure it would be an emporium of fun and inspiration.

I've actually been lucky enough to have stayed there on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately, I couldn't find photos of the room I normally booked, with its crazy green shag rug, but I've included a couple from the hotel's website just to give you an idea of what it's like. Each room is different and almost a work of art in its right.

Situated in the Marais, which is in the heart of the city and was at one point known for its fantastic gay night life, Le Petit Moulin is not a place to go if you're into ultra luxe services. What it does have is a pretty cool, inspirational ambience, which is reason enough to spend the night there.

There's a polemic brewing for a while now about how New York's fashion star is fading fast, especially compared to that of Paris. That got me thinking about how each capital is different, and whose work I've been looking to among the emerging designer crowd, and that happens to be London, which ironically, is so far outside of this discussion altogether.

While designers here in New York certainly have the potential to make it big across the world stage, there's no denying that Paris always churns out the most polished collections. Still, so many ideas come from London that its a bit of a shame how the up and coming English designers often shift to other Fashion Weeks, either New York or Paris, when they look to gain more exposure for their brand.

There's a good band of interesting stuff, though, coming out of that little isle by the North Sea: Richard Nicoll, Roksanda Ilincic, Louise Gray, and two of my staple favs, Preen and Emma Cook. Another designer who, I think, has the potential for longevity is Erdem Moralioglu.

Armed with a degree from the prestigious Royal College of Art in London, it's kind of interesting to know that his previous work experience included a stint with Diane von Furstenberg. Easy wrap dresses are the last thing to come to mind when you look at his intellectual designs.

But I think that's a sure sign of a good designer, someone who can design outside of their own personal taste. While I think he's still learning to come into his own, (and who isn't really?), it'll be interesting to see where his work takes him and whether the city of London remains a part of that path.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hey, so have you heard about the price fixing settlement in the makeup market? Well, as part of the settlement, stores have been ordered to give away $175 million worth of product as of next year. We're not talking drugstore brands here, but just about every high end designer makeup brand under the sun.

To be one of those to get $25 worth of free goods, you need to sign a form saying that you bought makeup during the alleged time when stores fixed prices, provide your name and mailing address, then receive an alert that confirms your eligibility.

For further info, go to

Monday, August 18, 2008

"You would be surprised at the number of designers who are just on the brink. Even those you think are doing well," someone in the know told me recently.

It's when I hear of designers like Jane Mayle shuttering her shop and business that those words ring true. Despite the fact that she had no training in design, she had all the other tools which are almost as important--most particularly the chutzpah and tenacity--to succeed in this business.

Those things included a celebrity following, the reported guidance and support from none other than Anna Wintour, a cool girl vibe, impeccable retail store location, and, at least for some years, the ultimate key to success, a business partner.

So what gives after being able to endure in this biz for many than a decade? Which, as you know in fashion, amounts to doggy years. Economy woes aside, the answer was straight forward and simple: the challenges of running a fashion label. That answer alone has done in more than one talented designer.

And since Mayle's name has popped up before when houses like Chloe were looking for their next creative lead, I'm sure her name will come up again.

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Rave

Once an avid reader, I could go through at least several books by week's end. Now since my work is a bit more consuming, I've whittled down my weekly reading to the essential: New York Magazine.

One of the items I turn first to each week is the publication's Look Book. This upcoming week, New York is featuring Hiroto Sugawara who, as I was cruising the net for a quick shot of him, has also been written up by

Sugara's look is so unique, I just had to share him. He pens his style as New Rave, and this is what he says:

"New Rave is like European techno-electro-music-related fashion. In New York people are still afraid of doing new things because the New York environment is more about having some sort of rules."

(Sidebar: Since race seems to be in all the headlines with the political faux pas of both the Spanish Olympic basketball and tennis teams, I couldn't help but to laugh out loud when I saw that nymag might have initially misquoted Sugara as saying Wave and not Rave...darn those Japanese and their funny accents!)

For a man who's so in to accessories, and color coordinating their neon hues, I think all he's missing is a fluorescent tee shirt ring, don't you?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Psychic Hotline of Fashion

Is there something in the water in Milan? An invisible, tasteless chemical that somehow makes you smarter, and exponentially more perceptive than an average USofAer? After Franca Sozzani's universally lauded all black Vogue Italia cover, Miuccia Prada's sportswear heavy collection for her Miu Miu line is just blowing me away, some 6 months now after it was shown.

Especially since Michael Phelps' shattering performance in Beijing remains so fresh in my mind, and with the hullabaloo surrounding the NASA engineered Speedo suits that all the swimmers donned, I have to ask: Is Miuccia Prada an oracle? While I've never been personally keen on the Prada girl (just a little too proper and polished for my home-grown tastes), I've always been a big admirer of Miuccia. An oracle she may not be, but a savant, at least when it comes to what will be the next big thing, she has proven herself to be time and time again.

Though there were other designers who picked up on the trend forward for lace (Emma Cook, McCartney, McQueen, Lacroix and Karl, some of whom use the fine fabric almost as if it were a staple) Prada will probably be most credited with the whirl of Chantilly and Alencon that is to come in September. And deservedly so. She made the biggest statement with it. And any statement coming from this reportedly staid lady is worth straining to hear.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When Life Imitates Art

I think I've said this before, but it bears repeating. One of the most tricky roles of a designer is being able to read the pulse of the times, and to translate that into a collection. It's not just about clothes (though sometimes, what girl doesn't want to wear a pretty frock?), it's about fashion and what is, literally, contemporary to our times.

So enough babbling on about fashion. Has anyone caught Hair in the Delacorte Theater this summer? While I wasn't as blown away by the performance as the woman ahead of us in line last week, who was watching the performance for the 3rd time that evening, I was impressed.

The singing was good, there was full frontal all cast nudity so parents beware, and it was a picture perfect summer evening. But what impressed me more about the performance was just how relevant Hair is right now. Race, war, politics...the only thing missing was some reference to the Olympics. Otherwise, the musical could have been set in modern day now rather than some 40 years ago.

So I don't think it was a coincidence that the 70s played so much of an influence in the most recent resort collections. The 70s, you're asking, aren't we mixing up our decades here? Well, to be more precise, it was really the early 70s', those crucial years following the historically relevant 1969, when bell bottoms and Flower Power still weighed strongly on American fashion.

It makes me anxious to see what's in store this September for the shows. I think it will be a clear departure from all the clean lines and tailoring we saw for Fall. The one show I'm really dying for is Prada, whose heavy sportswear theme for Miu Miu is only becoming clear to me now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Last week, top model Erin Wasson announced she was designing a line of clothing for casual cool label Rvca, a company that I had never really heard of before but one which, apparently, is a fav in the skating community.

All the fashion journals showed the requisite shots of her upcoming Spring line which has already scored a major coup by being picked up by the perennially hip boutique Opening Ceremony. But what struck me as more than just slightly odd was the striking resemblance one of her key looks holds to Alexander Wang's line.

Okay, maybe odd isn't the correct word. It would be logical that the line bears a strong resemblance to Wang's, especially since Wasson has been credited as being Wang's muse and stylist to his past two critically well-received collections. So, now, since the designer is doing well, Wasson decides to capitalize on the success of the Wang girl by designing a line of her own?

You could argue that she's designing for a different girl. But now that Wang has just launched his own diffusion line of lower priced knits, you could hardly tell which girl is which. Looking at this shot from Rvca, and from Wang's runway collection, I certainly couldn't tell which girl is wearing Wang, and which girl is wearing Wasson.

Wasson was recently busted by a well-known blog for knocking off jewelry line Bliss Lau. Apparently Lau sold Wasson one of her signature pieces, and Wasson then went on to recast the design, put it in Wang's runway show, and thereby launch her own jewelry line. Okay, okay, I'll cut her just a teensy bit of slack. All designers look somewhere for inspiration, and there isn't a single good designer that doesn't look at other designers, be they living or dead. But to do it so literally? Well, I guess you get right down to it, isn't that copying? Is that really designing?

Don't get me wrong. Wasson, in my book, is an absolutely stunning model. But to so easily call her a designer? Well, her track record so far might suggest a different story.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Forbidden B's of Menswear

A male friend of mine came back from an extended trip to LA recently and told me about the bad luck he had shopping there. It was a little hard to believe at first...nothing to buy in LA? But then he went on to explain how everything in the stores were all bedazzled, bejeweled & bestudded. Everything from button down shirts to jeans were either encrusted with huge skulls and cross bones on the sleeves, or embellished with rhinestones on the back pockets. To top it all off, (literally), boys were walking around sporting fedora hats.

I had to laugh at first, but then when I started to really think about it, I couldn't help but to give an involuntary shudder. Seriously?

Now men's fashion is an arena I profess no talent or interest in, except when I perform the perfunctory role of dutiful spouse and shop for my husband, who happens to have no interest whatsoever in fashion. And of course, living in New York, where just about everyone dresses in black, men's fashion, for me, has been defined by the vest and dark rinse jeans, skinny ones for the hipsters.

Bejeweled, bestudded and behatted are where I draw the line. Lou Doillon, Kate Moss, even Diane Kruger can pull off a cute fedora any time. But if your chromosomes read like a chronological sequence in the alphabet, fedoras should be off limits to you. Unless of course you happen to be Johnny Depp, the only man on the face of the earth who's cool enough to pull off just about any look.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Oh, if only it were true! But since rumors earlier this week that LVMH was in talks to bring Phoebe Philo on to design Celine, not a peep. This isn't the first time that speculation has zoomed in on Philo. Remember last year when everyone was waiting with baited breath for her to launch her own eponymous label?

And who can be blamed for wishing out loud? Especially since a proven talent like Philo's is worth its weight in gold, or Paddington bags, whichever way you like it. Since her unexpected departure from Chloe in 2006, she's left a void in the design world. Who else but Philo has the ability to create that effortless cool girl vibe that every fashion-minded lass yearns for?

Since 2006, she's been on the down-low, spending time with her baby and husband, the big motivations behind her departure from Chloe. She's reportedly consulted at Gap's European division, which, given the enormity of her talent almost seemed a shame.

If there's an iota of truth behind this latest talk, then the suits at LVMH must be thinking the same thing. Philo is that very rare mix of designer who is able to design stunning runway pieces that are completely wearable. While Celine's uppercrust image doesn't quite mesh with the It Girl Philo so easily designs for, a talent like hers could rejuvenate what's become an older, more conservative brand.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bullseye for Mcqueen

If the rumors are true, Target is scoring a major coup by signing on Alexander McQueen for its latest capsule collection. Not that the retailer doesn't have a roster of reputable guest designers on its collaboration list, what with designs by Proenza Schouler, Temperley, Rogan, and Zac Posen to have graced its racks, at least in its stores Down Under for Zac.

I would have guessed that Swedish megachain H&M would have been pulling out all stops to woo Lee, as he is known to his friends. I mean, wouldn't that make more sense, especially following on the heels of Karl, Stella, Cavalli, and the collection that I can't wait for, Comme des Garcons? Then again, McQueen does already have his own diffusion line, McQ, & works a couple of collaborations with both Puma and Samsonite, so maybe deep America was unconquered territory for him. Go figure.

But should his international fans be dismayed that they won't be able to get their hands on his affordable wares, you can bet that the goods will appear on ebay soon enough. Maybe not fetching prices like those vintage jeans that were found in a mine somewhere in California, but with the cheap dollar, you can bet that some industrious American will be giving FedEx some pretty healthy overseas business.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Still Designing

I guess when I hear of trademarked names being bought out like Herve Leger, and young designers like Proenza Schouler paying homage to a look as iconic as the bandage dress, I immediately assume that the designer behind the name is no longer designing. Meaning that he or she is deceased, or better yet, has cashed in.

Not so in this case, I've learned from, after seeing Penelope Cruz frocked out in Herve L. Leroux on the red carpet. Herve Leroux, if you didn't know like me, is the label currently designed by the real Leger.

There must be some awful backstory here, which is quite a shame considering Leger's talent. He's worked with the Kaiser at both Fendi and Chanel, Lanvin, and high end hosier Wolford.

I can't think of anything worse to befall a designer. Because in fashion, isn't it all in the name?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Party Frocks

I have to say that PPQ isn't really a brand that was on my radar, until Rihanna donned one of their colorful floral frocks atop the Empire State Building on some press junket or other this summer.

I do vaguely remember reading something about Peaches Geldorf designing a capsule collection for the brand, which was started by the winsome duo Amy Molyneux and Percy Parker. And then party pics show up somewhere or other, Peaches in tow, with a legion of other young London scenesters, all to fete the brand's studio move.

So while the label seems to have all the munitions to grow (starlet following, growing publicity, flagship store in a major London locale, and cool hipster vibe), I'll be keeping my eye out to see just how far Molyneux et Parker can go.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Summer in The City

Yesterday reminded me of how great summer can be in the city. Saturday's thunderstorms had finally chased away the humidity, making it a picture perfect day for a concert in the park.

Do you know about Summer Stage? It's a non-profit organization that schedules literally thousands of performances in the city's countless parks, many of them free. The group dedicates a good portion of its funds to go globe-hunting, bringing some of the best music to New York.

Yesterday, Summer Stage brought in headlining act Jamie Lidell from London, and he's the reason why I went. But wow, was I impressed with one of the opening acts, a girl named Janelle Monae.

Her music can be described as Futuristic Rock, with some Afro-punk influences and a good dose of Soul. She's been likened to a mix between Gnarls Barkley and Andre 3000, only she's flat out gorgeous and has a retro chic sense of style. After recently signing to Bad Boy Records, expectations are high that she might become the next big thing. And after seeing her perform yesterday, I have no doubt that she just might live up to those expectations.

Friday, August 1, 2008

With the recent news that Jil Sander is on the auction block, again, I can't help but to shake my head a bit and cluck. Jil Sander's a very rare story in design. Its one of the very few that includes a narrative about a designer who actually knows how to succeed in the business of fashion. And then when the money comes rolling in, the multinational corporation makes a bit of a mess of the brand.

Okay, okay, it took Sander decades to make the bucks. But she kind of revolutionized fashion, using her own face to launch campaigns, brokering licensing deals to bring in revenues, and oh yes, who could forget those ingeniously clean cuts that have become synonymous with the brand? Imagine all this in the heydey of the eighties, among a sea of big shoulders and pleated pants.

Not that the label's current creative team isn't talented, especially under Raf Simons. But it certainly seems to have lost a bit of its luster. I remember when Sander, herself, came back, despite all those publicized blow-ups with Prada bigwigs. Oh, the hopes and expectations! Of course it was all quite a rollercoaster ride when she left again a short year later, no doubt remembering the old reasons why she quite her own house in the first place.

If a company like Prada can't make a go of it without Jil, who can? It seems the label's current owners have wizened up to this, since they're trying to find the highest bidders after owning the label for just a couple of years. If Sander weren't so happy enjoying all her money...well, they do say that the third time's a charm.