John Galliano's Interview at the Vogue Festival

I've been spending my recent free time making my way through all the online interviews from this past British Vogue Festival. They're all perfectly interesting and entertaining, but an interview between Alexandra Schulman and John Galliano really stood out to me. John Galliano has been such a hot topic recently, between his long awaited return to fashion and his first shows for Maison Margiela, but we haven't really gotten his response on all of it. (The only one I've read was Hamish Bowles' "Bringing Back the Magic" in the February issue of Vogue; needless to say one of my favorite Vogue articles in a while.)

 I watched Galliano's interview with Charlie Rose a while ago and was immediately charmed by Galliano's character. But by no means would I describe him as charming. On camera, at least, he has a small presence and voice, but he's also so obviously brimming with brilliance; this is evident when he talks about his clothes, especially. Those little dark eyes of his sparkle at the topic of clothes, visibly showing his inner, true passion for fashion. He seems humbled by his experiences; a stark contrast to what I've seen and heard about his old, extravagant persona and shows. John Galliano's exile was necessary for obvious reasons, but it improved him as a person and designer. I'd much prefer him fading out for a bit, then coming back shining brighter than ever, rather than burning out completely. He was on the top of the world then, and he'll undoubtedly be on top again, but this time he's focused, humbled, and wise. 

While the Charlie Rose interview was thoughtful, it was also a little bit frustrating. As a non-fashion person, Charlie Rose would sometimes say things that were just a bit off. The interview at the Vogue Festival really hit the spot because it was a fellow fashion person talking to another fashion person in a room of fashion people in a festival for fashion. Charlie Rose's interview might have been clearer for non-fashion people, but if you knew your stuff, this interview was very satisfying.

Galliano spoke of his beginning in fashion, answered all Schulman's questions, gave tips, engaged in pleasantry and small talk, but his brilliance really showed when he was talking about his clothes from the 'Artisanal' collection. When first looked at the 'brides' and ornamentation on some of the pieces, I suspected spontaneity and randomness mixed in with the genius. But actually hearing his creative process in creating these beautiful monsters, was fascinating and only adds to his brilliance and my admiration of him. He is a true genius in intentional craftsmanship, quality, and design. Don't believe me? Just watch the video and find out for yourself.



Will Tech Ever Make It In Fashion?

There is no need to introduce the Apple watch. Anyone, who hasn't been living under a rock, has heard of this ground-breaking product that the geniuses over at Apple have dreamt up; the product to finally conquer that uncrossable line between fashion and technology. Or at least that's what they make it out to be.

Apple's "mission" is to create technology that's accessible, high quality, and, most importantly, personal. And nothing is more personal than clothes. It's easy to see what Apple was thinking; a watch is a daily accessory for most people and if that watch could be personalized and technologically advanced, then you've got the product of the decade (which is really saying something considering how often new products come into the market). There's no problem with the business side of the Apple watch; there are no major flaws and at a glance it, indeed, looks like the product of the decade. (Sure, it may have to compete against both the watch and smartphone industries, but it's a strong adversary considering that it's a hybrid of both.) But the watch does face problems when it crosses over into the realm of fashion and identifies as it.

Apple's watch is a luxury technology item, and the fact that it's worn instead of held does not remove it from that category. In fact, that's the only part that would make the watch, or rather its sellers, even consider being a fashion item. Every couple years (or actually months because that's the way the world functions now) a new product or technique will come out in an effort to bring fashion and technology together. "Wearable Tech" has been an on and off trend for a while now and, unlike most trends, it doesn't seem to be giving up easily. It was the google glass, then the Nike fuelband, and now Apple's contributed with the watch.

The truth of the matter is that technology is the future and fashion is the always, but it's a very tricky job to combine the two. Right now, "wearable technology" is mostly big tech companies dabbling in areas they know nothing of and producing excellent products, just not fashion products. It would be just as unsuccessful if fashion brands suddenly went into technology. They don't get that just because technology can be wearable does not make it fashion.

Fashion's trendiest representatives will, undoubtedly, flaunt their smartwatches all over social media, but by no means will it become a fashion item. Despite the its efforts, technology will always be separate from fashion unless it finds a way to give up some of its "techiness" and give in to some of fashion.

The Apple Watch was released last Friday.

Vintage Couture Wishlist

I came across 1stdibs thanks to my mother, who window shops there for art and furniture in her scarce free time. When I checked out this massive, online marketplace for furniture, jewelry, fashion and art, I, of course, immediately clicked on fashion. I've always been a fan of vintage fashion; I get, and wear, what I find from Goodwill. But this isn't a collection of your average thrift store haul, this is the stuff of the greatest haul of your dreams! As I browsed the vintage couture section, iconic-looking pieces from iconic names popped out at me from all directions. I saved a few (okay, a bit more than a few) to my profile - mostly vintage YSL's, Balmain's, and Dior. 

I, undeniably, enjoyed looking at the design and aesthetic features of the clothes, but I think the history aspect was even more interesting. Browsing this was especially thought provoking for a fashion youngster like me who's never experienced the old, iconic fashion collections. It's fascinating to see a fashion house's evolution throughout both different eras and designers. 

Click on the photo for the 1stdibs link.

Dior - c. 1960

Lanvin - c. 1962

Yves Saint Laurent (not sure if it's a design for Dior or his own house) - c. 1969

Givenchy - c. 1980-2000
This one is a little bit more modern (maybe too modern to be considered vintage), but I still love the craftsmanship and character.

Christian Dior - c. 1965 


Pierre Balmain - c. 1960


Carven - c. 1967

Valentino - c. 1970
This is a Valentino piece from 1970, but it reminds me a lot of what Heidi Slimane is doing at Saint Laurent these days.


Chanel - c. 20th Century

Nina Ricci - c. 1960
This reminds me of Riccardo Tisci's past collection for Givenchy - an aura of earthy regality


Schiaparelli - c. 1940
It's really fun to compare this look to Schiaparelli's past couture collection!


Pierre Balmain - c. 1968

Valentino - c. 1963

Pierre Cardin - c. 1965



As I was window shopping online, I felt rather like Hamish Bowles, who has a notable collection of vintage haute couture to his name. I suppose this is the modern-Hamish way of building a vintage collection. An old fashioned Hamish would shop around markets and consignment shops, but this is 2015 and modern Hamish shops online! (It's a goal of mine to be a modern Hamish, if you didn't know.)




The Weight of the Name: Is It Necessary?

Every item of clothing has a label. Whether that label is Gap or Gucci, it still has a name and, therefore, a general reputation. Reputations keep the brand in line and on track of their image; they keep them consistent. When a costumer has an expectation for a certain look or quality, it's part of the brand's responsibility to deliver that. If they fail that responsibility, they loose their reputation; it's simple. The reputation is what they, the brand, make of it. They can choose to build a strong brand with character and quality and make their name powerful. But this includes sticking to one look or idea, part of the reliability bit. For example, a Ralph Lauren show is expected to be luxury, a Dolce stereotypically Italian, Jil Sander is always minimalistic. As I wrote about more in this post, this could be beneficial or limiting to the brand and designer. But I'm not going to restate all those ideas in today's post. Today, I'm specifically writing about the weight of the name.

People generally expect more style and quality from high fashion brands than everyday brands. This is because of the history of the brand. Naturally, high fashion brands should have better quality and aesthetic because of the price and the name. The name is the price and aesthetic and quality, but recently it's been becoming more about the name and less about all those other components that are so much more important. Fashion has always been about the label, but only because the label means something. It represents something special and unique to that brand. When brands start resting on their laurels, it starts being about the label, and just the label, and that's when the trouble begins. So obviously, it's going to take a bit of effort to get today's industry out of the trouble.


This is a look from Thom Browne Pre-Fall 2015. This look can be copied very easily, but by no means is Thom Browne resting on his laurels (as you would know right away if you saw the rest of the collection). There is a difference between relying on a name and creating wearable clothes. Designers need to find the balance between fresh & new and reliable & familiar.

High Fashion Struggles to Stay Relevant in a Fast Fashion World

Despite my judgement of high fashion (and therefore generally expensive) clothes on my blog, about 80% of my wardrobe is second-hand from Goodwill stores. It's the ultimate balance: cheap but good quality. (I dress better and pay less than if I shopped at normal stores.) Plus, it keeps me away from the vicious lures of trends and guides me to a more classic style. I have to search and sift to achieve a look instead of just having one thrown at me. 

On my most recent trip to my local Goodwill, I was pleasantly surprised by three racks labelled with signs stating that those clothes were from the Net-a-Portêr warehouse located nearby. You can only imagine how the heart of a high fashion enthusiast and admirer would leap at this sight. Keep in mind I've been rummaging for clothes at thrift stores and now the clothes I've been gazing at from a computer screen were right in front of me. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it was, at least at first. In bliss I spent a good fifteen minutes sorting through the racks, picking through every single piece of clothing, giving (I admit reluctantly) special attention to the impressive labels and brands. But what fashion insider who's an outsider to the actual clothes wouldn't? I mean, Isabel Marant, Missoni, Suno, Valentino, and Giambattista Valli were just some among the names. Browsing these labels was like flipping through Vogue.





Once I got past the weight of the labels, I began actually looking at the clothes. Due to the fact that these were the ones that were removed from the warehouse, these clothes were either in unusual sizes (really big or really small!), ripped or damaged in some way, or just too ugly to sell. It was a collection of mistakes really. Every piece I tried on fit into one of these categories; a pair of white jeans from The Row stopped my circulation, I was floating in athletic shorts from Alexander Wang, while I couldn't even fit a Kenzo dress over my shoulders! The only things that actually fit me had some sort of design mistake, for example, a fuchsia eyelet shirt by Oscar de la Renta fit perfectly but it was faded in the shoulders because it was left out in the sun for too long, or a Band of Outsiders sweater that had a hole in it. (I ended up getting that sweater anyway - it was just a tiny hole, I promise!) The most tragic example, in my opinion, was a Suno blazer that was in perfect condition and in my size; it just happened to look a bit... clownish to me. 

While I was stuffing myself into a dress that seemed to be made to fit only 10 year olds, my mother (a champion of brand-less comfort and quality) made a point along the lines of why would people bother with expensive clothes like these if a) they aren't comfortable; b) they quality isn't better; and c) you practically need a lady in waiting to get it on? The answer is simple; people won't. Who would pay extra for clothes with those faults when there's perfectly stylish options out there? The logic is showing in the numbers: top high fashion brands like these are constantly losing money in a society of fast fashion. With more money people expect more, and these clothes aren't giving enough. 






I realize I'm judging the quality, aesthetic, and business design of high fashion clothes and brands off of the worst of the worst, but those clothes are still carrying the name and have an expectation to live up to it.


Living Up to the Name or Filling the Stereotype?

After a sweep of normcore, minimalism, and androgyny, fashion is taking a bit of different a route, in the complete opposite direction. Not familiar with fashion's current look? Just imagine taking a wrong step into the kid's toy isle in a hardware shop; that's it. And what a wrong step it is. The popping logos and general airhead-ness is just what people expect from fashion. When you mention the fashion industry, the first image that comes into most people's minds is ridiculous characters, logos, and weirdness (read: aesthetically displeasing.) If a fashion outsider looked inside any reputable fashion news source, i.e. WWD, about a year ago, they would, inevitably, make fun of the extreme minimalism, but also be intimidated and impressed by the sharpness of it. If a fashion outsider poked around runway reviews today, they would mercilessly ridicule fashion for the the popping logos, bright colors, and overall childishness. Every industry, every group, has a duty to be respected. Fashion especially so because it's such a big part of average, everyday lives, yet so mocked. This comical trend could have been an effort to poke fun at fashion (they always say to laugh at yourself...), but I don't feel that's what the industry needs at the moment. We can gain respect through solid, beautiful designs, not something that looks like it should be sold in a cardboard box with a matching hairbrush.



Spring Fashion's Old Reliable Friend

When all other trends fail, there is one spring classic that always seems to be relevant. Yes, we're talking about florals, the inevitably popular print for every spring. As I was looking over the trends from yesterday's post, I realized that, although trends come and go like the wind, one of them was more frequently blossoming and blessing the pages of spring fashion magazines more than others, and that was the floral. Trends, by definition (or my definition, at least), aren't reliable, but florals seem to stick year after year, unlike their faddish competitors. If you look at the situation, it only makes sense that flowery prints would be a springtime regular because flowers represent spring unarguably unlike anything else. Seasons are nothing but months, names of months really, but it's the magic of mother nature (& science) that represents them. The most beautiful magic that occurs during spring is the blooming of flowers. The inspiration that comes from nature is unlimited, but I have to wonder if designers are abusing her beauty. Actually, I don't wonder, I know.  The fact that there's an overwhelming excess of floral printed clothing every spring means more than designers are feeling especially inspired by nature's beauty. This is rarely the case, but truly unique and beautiful clothes mused from flowers are, indeed, possible. (This past season's Alexander McQueen is a perfect example.) The rest are retail ruses selling people the same "fresh, new spring fashion" aging back to when flowers themselves were first grown. A lazy, familiar, and visually pleasing trick to which we're all victims of. But who doesn't love a good, reliable floral?
Etro.

Alexander McQueen. Gives the exact essence of a rose, without spelling it out for you.

Another from McQueen.

Anna Sui, a known spring flower slave.

Dries Van Noten.

Givenchy. I think this is another example of a well-executed floral theme.

Altuzarra.

Michael Kors.

Chanel was probably the biggest flower slave this spring.

Said best by none other than (the fictional) Miranda Priestly.







From the Runway to the Racks...

It may seem like September was ages ago, but the fashions shows from this past September Fashion Month are still fresh in my mind, partly because of the fact that the reminders are everywhere now. Take a look at any mall, magazine or shop and you'll see both influences and plain out copies from the spring collections that showed this past September. I recently went to a shopping mall, not something I do all the time, and was amazed at how much of it I had seen before during September. Some of it was in subtle reference, but others were just close enough where you had to look twice, but just far enough from a lawsuit. (It's amazing how shamelessly they copy designers! Almost every detail is there, save the name.) Brands normally just capture the concept and essence of runway designs and apply them to styles that can be used in the everyday, to put even more distance from that lawsuit and to ensure revenue. (Obviously, most people don't buy the expensive and generally impractical clothes off the runways.)

Brands take inspiration from the runway but make them for the everyday, so rarely will they create their own designs. So even if you consider yourself the most unfashionable person out there and resent fashion, your clothes are based off of something that walked down a catwalk at one point or another. Even if you're a thrifter and keep far away from runway fashion, trends will subliminally change how you look at things and you you style your own clothes. If you wear clothes at all, you are under the influence of high fashion. There is no escape from the runway! 'Tis the nature of fashion.

For today's post, I looked at the top trends from the spring collections and observed how they trickled down to the fast fashion brands.

The 70s was a huge trend this season, mostly represented through suede. See how similar, yet more wearable, the fast fashion versions are? Use this link to shop.


The 70s was also represented through boho and hippie designs; most popularly, florals. Use this link to shop.

Denim was also very popular this season, in both seventies modes (see the first look - Gucci) and more modern versions (see the last look - Dolce & Gabbana). Use this link to shop.



Today, there's less of a barrier between high fashion and common clothes. It's a lot easier to see what's walking down the runway, and therefore easier to copy. Clothing production is also faster; there can be a show one day, and brands will have exact replicas for sale the next. This is all contributing to the process of breaking down that barrier between high and low. Social media is probably the greatest contributor to the cause, with never-before-ease to look into celebrity's lives, but that's a topic for another day.





SPRING CLEANING

It's that time of year again! Although I'm not a fan of cleaning at all, I'd do almost anything at this point in exchange for the beautiful weather we've been having. The only downside? Allergies! And all the newly arisen dust floating around from cleaning isn't helping either. This year's spring cleaning was more of a spring remodeling. (What's the difference, you might ask? One is a light dusting and the other includes donating 4 full garbage bags to GoodWill, not to mention about 2 to the trash. This year's was definitely the latter.) I rotated my bed, which really opened up the floorspace (and revealed a lot of dust and mess), but my favorite renovation has to be the wall above my bookshelf. With Hamish Bowles photogenic apartment well in mind, I hung a bunch of frames on that designated wall to break up some of the blankness of it, as well as the overwhelming green and purple color scheme of my room. Check out the photos - they explain much better than I can!

Here are some lovely, fake, flowers; I thought they added a necessary fresh touch (this is spring cleaning, after all), without actually being fresh. Fresh is good until it spoils.

The only thing that could make this photo better is coffee table books under the flowers. Channeling Habitually Chic.

Here's that vintage Vogue poster in full. I bought it for about $5 at a thrift shop and it currently stands high on my list of best buys. I love that it's not the traditional vintage Vogue cover; it feels very Vogue and contemporary, but old at the same time. A vintage modernity. 

The full wall.



Note the satin-y pink curtains visible in the reflection in the mirror. I am aware how they clash horribly with the rest of the room; curtains are something that I'm constantly on the lookout for when shopping.

The mint green column of my frames. The first is another vintage Vogue cover, the second a photo I took in the Catskills, and the third also from the mountains. (The third one is actually a combination of three different shots of the trees and the light shining through them.)


Alexander McQueen & Isabella Blow Burning Down the House circa 1996.

A cute little sign I picked up two summers ago in England. I'm a sucker for an English countryside.


Not pictured here is the masthead page from Vogue in a simple black frame above my bed. Although it's not nearly as photogenic as any of the covers, it means more to me than any of them because it has the names and titles of all the people I aspire to be. That masthead is a goal for me; I can only imagine the day when my name is on it among all the others.