I told Brother about visiting the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit and he switched almost immediately to one of my favorite designers John Paul Gautier. "He's been doing some really weird stuff lately," he said.

"He always does weird stuff," I said, but realized I hadn't checked in on the latest collections.

Clips behind the cut... )
Medieval in theme, if not shape, Alexander McQueen's last collection is beautiful, but seems a kind of husk without his theatrical runway shows:


What was he thinking about? How would he have displayed these?

The presence of Heironymous Bosch's 'Garden of Earthly Delights' in the bodice of the second dress suggests that there might be more context behind these designs besides their beauty and a potential raucousness beyond the stately drape of these fabrics.

Random thoughts: the 'medieval shape' was the cone, in it's extremity it yielded the plucking back of hairlines, (which is suggested by the caps that are used in these designs) the stereotypical pointed hat, and the padding of bellies to suggest pregnancy and create a wider hips than shoulders or breasts. But it seems to me that the shape with which McQueen plays isn't just the medieval cone, but the tighter-tailoring of the 19C, a reminder that all these things are filtered through centuries of reinterpretation, ending, of course, with his own. The gown with the mirrored image of the saints, blessing hands extend over each breast, seems especially memorable to me, as does the white dress with embroidery, which reminds me, somewhat of one of the Pre-Raphaelite's drowned Ophelias, pure white stained by the inevitable taint of nature. This is not the mille-fleur of medieval tapestry, it is something more modern and weedy. Personally, I am partial to the black gown (total 19C redux) and the red jacket with the gold rampants.

It was when I learned about the padding and saw our own fashion reaching for the shape of maternity wear (loose tops, gathered high, usually above the breasts, widening towards the belly and hips) as well as the infamous 'hunchback' jacket that I started wondering about what we were modifying our bodies (via fashion) to suggest.
While theoretically I'm a fan of the high-low blend of Target's designer collections, this ad made me feel very, very, sad:

Jean Paul Gaultier @ Target.

I am especially horrified this collection would invoke early 'Lucky Star' era Madonna, when Gaultier's bullet-bra was essential to her 'Vogue' era look.

Gaultier is... transgressive. It's always felt like an exploration of the female unconscious complete with our fantasies about power and desire. This collection is less American Muse and more American Idol.

In her coverage of the opening of Paris fashion week, NYTimes critic Cathy Horyn complimented Nicolas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga for his collection involving poster art and packing materials cut into square, but overlapping shapes. In a compliment to Ghesquiere and an homage to Alexander McQueen she writes:

The problem for fashion in the age of instant access to images is simple: Without extremely willful individuals exerting their imaginations, experimenting with new materials and shapes, the industry as a whole will seem weak to the people who follow it. There must be something exceptional, almost violently strong and not immediately accessible, if fashion is to be a force.

Gaultier's vision has always had that strength. While I love the idea of fashion being a force that has potential to be accessible enough to go buy at one's local Target, I hate Gaultier being diluted to make it happen. He has always been an exceptional, violent, force, not the immediately accessible bargain.
He was only 40. One of fashion's up and coming designers. I looked forward to his collections every season! He loved staging these elaborate shows. There was the year his inspiration was They Shoot Horses, Don't They and the models danced down the runway in increasing disarray as the show proceeded. And his The Birds collection a few years back made a big splash. His designs were gorgeous, even without the arty production values, but I have to say it was the art-presentation that really made him stand out. One of his last collections mocked the recycling nature of fashion and featured mounds of trashbags and recycled material.

I am so upset by this! What is fashion coming to? We have these big conglomerates buying everyone up, there's uncertainty about the future of couture (my favorite aspect of fashion) and I hate to say it, but he really was the best and brightest designer that Britain had to offer.

Oh well, we still have Gaultier, Theyskens, and, of course, Francisco Costa.

The New York Times catches up with an obituary:

The 'They Shoot Horses Don't They' collection from Spring 2004:

(They Shoot Horses... was the McQueen collection that caught my attention and first made me a fan.)

Josh Patner @ Slate groks McQueen. This is probably the most accurate and moving tribute, yet:
Cathy Horyn has a lovely article on Haute Couture in the times today:

The economic crisis doesn’t really scare the people who still practice haute couture, that small, vanishing world of embroiderers, dyers and feathermakers who serve the imagination of the few remaining couturiers. Asked if the economy was having an effect on the spring couture season, underway here, Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel said, “Only on the conversation....'

Read more... )
If you are a woman who wears trousers in a professional setting, you have Yves Saint Laurent to thank for that. This icon of fashion died today @ 71 leaving behind numerous contributions to the world of fashion including: the pants suit, the trapeze dress (popular at discount retailers these days), ladies' tuxedos, the safari jacket, and the 'rich peasant' look that recycles itself periodically throughout the fashion world.

For the Times' obituarty click here.

On a personal note, the YSL fragance Opium was also the scent of my first grown-up love affair.
I haven't paid much attention to fashion this year, but you know I never miss a Gaultier collection. His spring HC collection seems to have a mermaid theme. The collection starts out with masculine suits and then metamorphosizes, first blurring the stark outlines into something looser and more drapey (almost pajama like), then becoming dresses emphasizing the female shape, and finally incoporating 'scaley' shapes and textures, until his last gown features, yes, shells you-know-where.

Read more... )
Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring RTW collection."

As you know, I'm a raving Gaultier fan. I can't help it. He's never boring and has such a fantastica; imagination. His spring collection is rather piratical. It uses a non-traditional color palette (olive, brown, purple, camo, brown) for spring, and looks not unlike what I've been wearing this fall. (Okay, prettier, more imaginitive, but still! And yes, I've just ordered a purple skirt last week, which means I've officially joined the fruitside of the force.)

The camo, is of course, a reference to the ballgown he did a number of years ago making camo the everyday fabric it is today. But it's not really a spring color... nothing is in his collection, with the exception of the nautical stripes and the Belle Epoque brides at the end of the show.

I'm sure I have more to say (and look at!) but I have to take a shower and get to work.
AQUARIOUS: Nature artist Andy Goldsworthy is a skilled rock balancer. With infinite patience, he arranges stacks of them in seemingly impossible arrangements. Though he has a highly developed sensitivity to the heft and shape of his raw materials, his work still requires him to persist through frustration. While building one particularly intricate structure, he said, "The moment it collapses is disappointing. But since it has collapsed four times I'm beginning to understand the stones better." From what I can determine, Aquarius, you're at a stage in your own labor of love that's equivalent to Goldsworthy's third collapse. Keep at it.

RB's horoscope for this week included reference to Andrew Goldsworthy, whose landscape based art utilizing natural materials I find extremely beautiful. I'm posting this because I know those of you familiar with his art ([personal profile] dr_tectonic) would understand the reference, and those of you unfamiliar with his work should check out some of his images. I'm also under the impression that there might be some of his work on display along the Hudson, which might feed the souls of those of you in exile in the East.

Unfortunately, it seems RB is trying to find a nice way to insinuate there will be a fourth collapse before I understand the stones. That, along with his homework assignment: Compose a sincere prayer in which you ask God or Goddess for something you're not "supposed" to, give a pretty good indication of my current state. I am having a ton of fun, but I can't help but feel this goat has strayed. I need to refocus my purpose and find myself a job.

I keep trying to reframe my current situation positively. Instead of spending time feeling like a complete loser with extremely poor judgement when it comes to challenges like my work situation or intimate relationships, I'm trying see that the reason these things are causing me problems is because I'm reengaging with them, and they are things that really matter. And trying to believe this is a preferable state to not engaging with them at all.

Anyway, I think that's about all I can say for today, even though I realize I am being neither distinctive or specific in discussion of these matters. In closing, two things that amused me:

Yesterday's Pearls Before Swine a very caustic comic in which the characters are almost too cute to be doing such cruel things to each other. ("I like it because it validates my inner-crocodile," a friend of mine once said.)

And Jean Paul Gaultier's Fall 2007 couture collection, which I thought was restrained and elegant, and really beautiful. It's a coherent collection with a really clean line. I liked the Little Prince 19C military and mughal motif, along with all the badass boots and the use of cut-outs and frayed edges. These are definitely clothes the Aviatrix would wear. The crowns cracked me up, and provide a nice continuity with the halos of his exquisite Spring 2007 couture collection (which I thought of as 'Visions of the Virgins") and last Fall's hair hats, which had a lovely, predatory, feel like they were supernatural creatures who shape shifted to imitate humans, while leaving behind weird hair or fur bits that gave them away, or had grown 'round the men they'd devoured.

Let me know what you think!
Last year the fashion critics kept throwing around phrases like, "the new sobriety" to describe Fall 2006 more conservative collections and darker color palettes. It was in sharp contrast to the waves of preppy pastels, petticoats, and eyelette lace that had inundated the runways in previous springs. They noted trends like dark tights, black and white, and metallic accents.

Bullshitting about fashion. )
I don't know what I expected, but it certainly wasn't this:

Jean Paul Gaultier's Vision of the Virgin

I don't know what to say, it's just so... beautiful! I want to mock it, but I can't, the garments are cut so well and the headresses are exquisite and it's just so... beautiful! I like the sapphire blue on the second page in the lower left hand corner.
Gaultier has always had an interesting relationships with fetish wear. His gowns consistently end up on the Hollywood's Worst Dressed list, in part because there is something about them that is not quite appropriate to express in public. They are a little bit dangerous, and seem to express a private, boudoir, part of the personality we are not really sure we want to see parading around the streets or plastered on the covers of our favorite celebrity magazines.

He has had some really lovely Couture collections these past few seasons, and I always look forward to what he does next. One of my favorite aspects of his clothing is that it always uses fashion as an extension of the body, like tightly fitting hoods that connected to his gowns via the spine, that he did several years ago (Fall 04?) There is something organic about his creations, almost as though it is not certain where the body of the model ends, and his creation begins.

Gaultier's Couture Fall 2006 )

See for yourself:
Burberry Prorsum
I don't like it as much as last fall, but the silhouette and accessories want to be worn. I want to reach into my closet and pull them out.

Dolce & Gabbana
Hello, Josephine! I love the palette, and the gowns, though the Little Lord Fauntleroy suits are a little weird.
I think one of the reasons I love fashion is the blend of idea and identity. I have long been a fan of the NYTimes fashion critic Cathy Horyn. She got her start in Detriot. She didn't know a thing about fashion, but agreed to become the fashion editor because it guaranteed two trips annually to New York.

Her review of Milan's fashion week is the kind of thought piece I really appreciate when approaching fashion. Not a consideration of what's hot and not, but more a sense of what does this ephemera say about our lives:


Here's the opening paragraph:

Tom Ford, in his salad days at Gucci, once said his female ideal was someone who looked like she "would pour hot wax over her lover before straddling him." It was a memorable line, and its forced note of aggression — the woman on top — tingled with a suspicion that he, like many designers, was interested only in selling an image; he didn't actually know anything about women.

The cold contemporary truth is that women don't need the respect or love of men. They lead lives of exceptional dignity and exceptional aloneness....

Later she asks:

Why aren't more designers sensitive to emotional lives of women? And how come female designers are often guilty of perpetuating the same clichés? I looked at Consuelo Castiglioni's collection for Marni, with its bedroom-lace skirts, woolly gray tights and blousy jersey tops, and I thought, perhaps cruelly: These are clothes for hobbyists. They brought to mind Joan Didion's famous censure about feminists deciding, in lieu of a revolution, to become "gifted potters." Why can't female designers create fashion commensurate with the largeness and complexity of their lives?

Her review hit a nerve in me, the angry-poignant one, as did the Jil Sander collection, which I think is very well summed up by the phrase "quiet dignity." It is also, from the distance of thumbnails on the computer monitor, a little dull. Yes, these are clothes "real women" would wear, but what does that say about our lives, that we are so bounded by line and the absence of color?

It is in some ways a relief to the frivolity of past collections. The weird New Look nostalgia trip that has clogged runways for the past few seasons. Fashion need not be frivolous to be feminine, the Sander collection seems to say, but at the same time I can't help but ask why it suddenly lacks passion, vigour, and color. (And why so many lives lack the same.)

I am familiar with that Didion essay on feminism, appearing in her collection The White Album. It makes a lot of the same criticisms I arrived at 30 years later. Didion and I are seperated by the boomer generation. I don't think either of us understand what all the fuss is about.

For me there is a sense that women are only just beginning to understand how different their lives will be from those of their mothers or grandmothers. What sacrifices will have to be made (our generation knows we can't have it all, even as we saw our mothers destroy themselves to try to achieve it) along with a sense of disengagement...

I can't write about this coherently today; except to say I wish someone could write as critically and urgently about feminism today as Didion did in her essay 30 years ago. Something has happened. Something has been lost, despite the gains. There is something sad about women's lives, and we are still a long way from having achieved equality.
I love Ralph Lauren's RTW collection for Fall. I'm a sucker for Ralph Lauren, there's something so romantic about it:


Everyone's talking about the Marc by Marc Jacobs collection. I think this collection may be influential, if for no other reason than it's one of the few I've seen that has some nice trickle-up momentum:

Christian Doir doing something fablous that looks part vampire, part Marie Antionette, a lot post-Revolutionary punk. Whatever it is, I wish I could be it for Halloween:

Mom sent me a "keeping baby warm" package. It contained two enormous sweaters, and a hilarious pair of bright pink flannel pajamas with blue and green cats riding mopeds printed all over them. Perversely, I like the pajamas, even though they are ridiculous, and the velvet trim (!) is sure to attract dryer lint.

As for the sweaters... they're huge! I like big sweaters, but one is a barfy zip cardigan that comes to my knees and makes my ass look like the backend of a construction vehicle, and the other is a beautiful angora sweater in am unflattering dough color whose sleeves hang past my arms. Just putting these sweaters on makes me look like I've gained twenty pounds. I was going to lie about their usefulness, but then I realized if I start lying now, I can expect more such things. Someone else will make good use of them, I'm sure.

I have this theory that there are "mom-types." My mom is a "put a sweater on" mom. Her biggest concern about the survival of her offspring is that they are warm enough. I would be an "eat something" mother, one whose largest concern about her offspring is that they have enough to eat. (I do this to my brother and friends all the time. I swear I am not Italian, though I probably have enough Jewish heritage to make up for it.) My maternal grandmother was the "are you wearing a slip?" type, which is a subset of the "Make sure you're wearing clean underpants, just in case you're in an accident," type. Her largest concern was for the hygiene of her offspring. I'm sure there are other "mom types" but those are the basic three I've been able to identify.


Oct. 7th, 2005 04:25 pm
I agree with Cathy Horyn, the Rochas show is gorgeous; but then I'm a sucker for a long skirt and a long-lean line:

I love fashion, even if I've never been particularly fashionable. I haven't posted most of my musings on the spring season, but I just had to mention Jean Paul Gaultier's spring collection. First, his spring ready-to-wear meshes nicely with his autumn haute couture, both play with the eastern european folk theme which has been popular with several designers over the past year. (See Prada's fall collection, which even included babushka headscarfs. I thought it was a very funny collection, looking something like weird 1960s mass produced decorative placks of peasants and mushrooms; but I often find fashion hilarious, particularly Miuccia, whose collections seem consistently to be joking with style.)

Jean Paul's spring ready-to-wear collection is much simpler, lest formal, and in lighter fabrics, than his autumn haute couture collection which has these glorious gowns that look like they've stepped out of Russian fairytales. I've always liked Jean Paul, who consistently appears on celebrity worst dressed lists. Lately he's been producing things that are a lot softer than his trademark straps and buckles, and this spring he ends his show with an honest-to-goddess real plus-size model wearing body-conscious tulle, and strategically placed flowers. She's fleshly and gorgeous, with a look of Empress-like fertility. If Jean Paul is putting plus-size on his finale "bridal" gown, can the rest of the industry be far behind?

See it for yourself:
Spring Collection - see the last page for plus-size model

Autumn Haute-Couture



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