Alexander Wang Is About to Take Over the World

Alexander Wang is in the perfect position for world domination. His longevity as a successful designer has been proven, the 31-year-old designer just celebrated the 10th anniversary of his namesake brand, so this turning point in his career is not the steep ascension to stardom, but the gently-upward-sloping plateau of becoming a household name. He's taken his time to develop his name, aesthetic, and talent, and now he's really ready to grow. 

Wang's departure from Balenciaga, announced earlier this month, will prove to be beneficiary to both sides, giving Wang more time to focus on his eponymous label and the house a chance for clothes that represent the heritage in modern times and are more than "satisfactory." According to TIME, Alexander Wang is the most influential fashion designer, being the only one placed on the "100 Most Influential People" list. Although many people, including myself, questioned this, he still, technically, is the most influential designer of 2015. He, along with six other designers, covered the first weekly issue of WWD, possessing "what it takes to be next-generation megapowers." His athleisure capsule collection for H&M, though not my favorite, was a huge success. All of these little accomplishments lead to the fact that Wang is slowly but steadily rising the ranks.

Alexander Wang has overcome the cage of branding and lure of pure abstract concepts, to produce clothes that, to me, define New York's fashion today with a clear edgy, sporty, and street aesthetic and also satisfy corporate needs by being mainstream. In fashion, "taking over the world" can last two decades or only the two hours until the flood of Instagrams from the next show come through. Only time will tell how long Wang's world domination will last, but he has my bet to put the "new" back in New York fashion week.

S/S 15. 
In person, I discovered that the fabric of this dress is actually mesh, which adds to the sporty factor, and the pleats also add to the edge.

Another look from S/S 15.

Resort 15.

Resort 15.

F/W 15/16.

F/W 15/16.

All smiles at the end of his Spring Summer 2015 show.

Sharpen Your Skills Before Fashion Month Begins

Bored in the dusty, dry weeks before the excitement and speed of fashion month? I was, too, before Business of Fashion announced their new Education section, "an online resource for fashion students, educators and entrepreneurs." The platform includes lists of global fashion schools, fashion business basics, fashion marketing and communications, a course on fashion entrepreneurship, and, my favorites, a fashion history series by Colin McDowell and an A-Z dictionary of, you guessed it, fashion terms, by Camilla Morton. As a fashion writer/commentator/critic, the fashion history section is particularly useful to me in order to compare and contrast the present and past, understand evolutions, and to acknowledge legacies. The dictionary is another wonderful tool to sharpen both your technical understanding of clothing as well as your communication skills for descriptions. (This fashion dictionary compares well with WWD's; BoF's is a bit easier to navigate and a bit more up-to-date, but WWD's covers a broader spectrum.) 

I am beyond thankful to the BoF team for creating this accessible learning platform where nonprofessionals such as myself can improve our fashion knowledge without obtaining a formal fashion education (but the school rankings are there if we do chose to pursue a formal education, something I might be looking at in 3 years time.) And I'm even more thankful that they introduced this while I still have a good amount of summertime to waste, before both fashion week and school start. (I look back to my runway reviews from last September and cringe, but hopefully both my fashion interpretation and writing skills have improved a bit since then, and I know I'll go miles thanks to these BoF resources.)

fashion history on pinterest

The Nature of Rick Owens

Rick Owens is a peculiar designer. To label him "a designer" seems so wrong, as it is the same label donned by personalities and celebrities who pose the past with a flourish of modern trend and pass it off as "new". Rick Owens is on a completely different plane compared to other designers. Owens focuses on ideas, not just the concrete notions surrounding him and then put into clothing form, but ideas from his own mind on his surroundings and then materialized. The difference between original ideas sparked by your surroundings and ideas from your surroundings put into your head places Owens on a separate level. For instance, when searching for inspiration to create a new collection, Owens looks not to the past, or forecasts of the future, or films, or nature, but to his own work. For him, the design process does not end with a bow and wave at the end of a show; it's an ongoing cycle, a book with every new collection marking the end of a chapter, not a volume. 

He doesn't aspire to dress the world, he designs for himself, as he said in a recent interview with Surface magazine: "The only way this thing stays pure is if I isolate what I really like and what is a personal expression." And "pure" really is the best way to describe his designs, free from influence, trend, and outside inspiration, the complete product of Rick Owens' mind. His designs are provocative without being in-your-face, utilitarian while still being decorative, grunge-y without the grit. His designs indirectly question society by having society question it; why does this look ugly/unflattering/undesirable? where did we learn to think so? 

His clothes don't make me think of characters or dream girls or models, but humans in their purest form. Thoughtful and intelligent, yet primal, ignorant, and shameless: nothing to hide. His designs are initially harsh on the eye, but there is a subliminal soothing element to them, something natural, something proportional, something just right. Rick Owens isn't just about clothes, he's a lifestyle, although that's another word I hate to use with him because of it's association with those not on his level. His much-imitated, if not the most imitated, aesthetic is not just a sartorial decision, it's a full idea, a mindset. In the interview I mentioned above with Surface magazine, we get a glimpse of this shy, yet sure figure, apparently untouched by the outside world and aware only of his own bubble of studio and staff. It's a figure we don't see enough of, but I would gladly keep it that way.














Even Vogue Bows Down to Beyoncé

Vogue is undoubtedly the leading authority concerning anything related to fashion. "The first look, the final word." While I don't often count on them 'for the first look', I have to say Vogue definitely gets the final word. If they say it's in, it's in, but if they say it's out, it's out. Part of Vogue's power of persuasion lies within their power of transformation. If they can transform a dress or a picture or a person to convince you that it's something it's not, then they most definitely have the power to tell you the do's and don't's. Except, they don't have that power of transformation.

The purpose of a Vogue editorial or photoshoot is to transform and convince. They curate a collection of clothes, cast a collection of models, and scout an appropriate set, all to produce a complete image, the full story. In this story, clothes don't carry the name of any designer, and the models/celebrities remain nameless as well. This all promotes the power of the picture, and therefore the power of the publication. Almost a week ago, it was unveiled that Beyoncé would be gracing Vogue's much promoted September issue this year. As much as it irks me that the magazine stories are published online before September, or the issue, actually arrives, I, like any other human being, couldn't resist catching a glimpse of the piece before it landed on my doorstep, and I, like any other human being, was mesmerized in the regality and overpowering presence of Beyoncé. But therein lies the problem. 

I was faced with plain Beyoncé. (Those words together create an oxymoron, as Beyoncé is anything but plain, I know, but there is no other way to put it. Average Beyoncé. Normal Beyoncé. You know what I mean.) All I saw was Beyoncé, the Beyoncé we all know and love and slightly fear, not some fantastical creature one would normally expect to be born from the pages of Vogue. There was no magic, no fantasy, no imagination, and, I daresay, no glamor. This editorial was Beyoncé through and through, and while the photos were beautiful and highest quality in all the technical aspects, they lacked that special something that makes it Vogue.

Perhaps Vogue decided it best not to meddle with her character because she is already such a powerful figure (not as if any of the other women who cover Vogue aren't...) Perhaps they were just as taken aback in her glory as we are and couldn't pull off any transformative magic. She does, after all, run the world.


The tagline for the issue is, "There’s only one September Issue, and there’s only one Beyonce," which doesn't really make sense because last year there was still one September issue and nine models shared the cover perfectly fine...




Daria Werbowy in Porter Magazine

I am fiercely loyal to Vogue. I trust Ms. Wintour's editing, Ms. Coddington's photo shoots, Ms. Goodman's styling, and Mr. Bowles writing like no other. But recently I've been gravitating towards Porter, the magazine by Net-a-Poter. This is the type of magazine that makes your eyes tired, by forcing them to read and think out of pure interest, rather than simply glazing over the pictures. I look forward to each new issue of style, fashion, and culture in equal parts, centered around a main heroine: the covergirl. Porter is not one to chose the trendiest, it-girl of the moment, something I must admit Vogue is guilty of, instead only figures with longevity in their industry grace Porter's covers; Cate Blanchett, Lara Stone, Christy Turlington Burns, Karlie Kloss, and Natalia Vodianova, to name a few. When I heard (or rather, saw, on Instagram, that is) that Daria Werbowy would be the newest member of the Porter cover club, I was thrilled. Daria's face often represents more than the actual clothes she wears; she has an aura of elusiveness and simplicity, along with an understated sensuality (which is why she's such a perfect fit in her Céline campaigns.) 

But upon finishing the feature, I have to say, I was disappointed. And not disappointed because I had high hopes that were unrealistic, but because, rare as it is for Porter, they completely missed the mark. In this editorial, they decided to show the "two sides" of Daria through two separately themed photoshoots - one for the gritty and tomboy and the other for the more girly and sensual. While the photos themselves would be perfectly fine for another editorial, they have the right combination of curated clothes and ambiance, but in this case, they just didn't bring out Daria. The problem with featuring a model as the cover star is in the fact that they model the clothes and the scene rather than showing their personality as intended. These photos did not show Daria Werbowy at all; she was just doing what she does best by portraying a character. Daria's uniqueness is in the fact that she blends those "two sides" seamlessly so that they aren't really two sides, just one Daria. In the tomboy side of the story, she was shown fixing cars and making fires, with greasy, gritty makeup that is just so un-Daria, and in the girly side she was mostly nude with pastel accessories as a side note. Neither side shows the Daria that the written story makes her out to be.







 


Photos via Porter Magazine.

Womenswear Designed By Men

"So many male designers initially approach fashion as 'art'." This was the first part of the first question in an interview between Jenna Lyons and Cindi Leive for Glamour magazine. The two then went on to discuss clothes for comfort and how Lyons went from being "an assistant to an assistant" to  group president and executive creative director of J.Crew. I suggest reading the interview, as Lyons' tips and story of success is both inspiring and entertaining. But today I want to focus on that first sentence. 

All designers claim that the reason they design is to make women feel confident/comfortable/empowered/beautiful. But how how can a male designer know what the key element to that perfect piece for a female body? They can see what looks ideal, or what looks beautiful, but they can never truly feel the level of comfort or confidence that any given garment has achieved. The designers who, I think, create the most comfortable and casually beautiful clothes are women - Phoebe Philo, Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham, and The Row, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. Donatella's clothes may not be casual, but they (not-so) simply ooze confidence. The parallel battles of the sexes and clothing design was evident most recently in couture week: everything dreamy and frothy and impractical, still nonetheless beautiful, was brought into this world by a male designer, while the most comfortable and sensible collection was by Bouchra Jarrar, a woman. 

Male designers, ranging from Ralph Lauren to Alessandro Michele, make clothes for a character, a fictional being. However beautiful these designs may be, women appreciate the realness of clothes designed by other women; the comfort of not being in character. It's true that many male designers look at fashion as another form of art, and female designers, like Jenna Lyons, see it more for real-life living. Therefore, today, Valentino, ever the champion, has the best of both worlds. Valentino's creative directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, bring both male and female views to their clothes, and it shows. Female designers capture the comfortable confidence of women, while male designers bring out their beauty and power through clothes.


Céline S/S 2015

Stella McCartney S/S 2015

Bouchra Jarrar Couture Fall 2015

Victoria Beckham S/S 2015


Photos via Style.com.

NYFW On the Horizon

September fashion month is fast approaching; not quite yet around the corner, but rather right on the horizon. The start of fashion week in New York always coincides with the start of my new school year, habitually providing both an exercise in time management, as I can only watch and review so many shows while still finishing my homework, and a serious questioning of my priorities, as most days I would much rather read between the lines of a fashion show instead of a book. I mean, fashion month is a special and sacred time where fashion strides forward into the mainstream, somewhat, and sartorial fantasies are turned into reality. Even though fashion month happens twice a year, collections are shown for the fall/winter season in February, September fashion month is the better of the two, for a number of reasons. One being, that the four fashion capitals are not completely frozen as they are in February, in fact, they are just beginning to freeze, resulting in some interesting street style and layers. (Layers are best in moderation; three is perfect for fashion, while 17 makes it a bit hard to be stylish.) 

These sporty looks from Alexander Wang pretty much summed up NYFW for me last year. New York is always so pro-athleisure.

For New York, this fashion month brings much newness. February was the last fashion week to be held at Lincoln Center, (I was lucky enough to experience the last September fashion week at Lincoln Center last year. Well, not really experience, but stalk around outside the shows waiting for bold names to be spotted.) Lincoln Center was not only the home to the shows and their attendees, but also the home to the expressive souls waiting patiently for their spotlight. The condense feeling of unity, creativity, and an appreciation of both fashion and beautiful things will be missed, but not terminated, as the fashion people, and those who wish to be fashion people, will continue to accurately represent New York fashion.

CFDA NYFW official logos.


In addition to a new location, the CFDA recently launched a new logo to brand fashion week, as well as differentiate official WME-IMG, the organization that overlooks fashion week and sports/entertainment events in New York, fashion shows from the rest. I don't believe that this move will have any influence or induce any change, since, according to Vanessa Friedman at the New York Times, only about 1/3 of the fashion shows present in the official location. The biggest problem with fashion week is the overwhelmingness of it, too many shows and too little time.

Something Creative #2 : My Type of Country

I've been dreaming of a countryside escape as of late, and if you've been reading my blog at all, you'd know that this isn't the first time, and most certainly won't be the last. I've been craving the whispering silence of golden fields and grey skies, of stoney walls and prickly bushes. Outings where the movement between my horse and I match that of the wind and tall grasses. Not a stuffy, grand English countryside like Downton Abbey, but an earthier, homier one, à la Amanda Brooks or Harlech. A place where manmade objects, such as cottages and saddles, appear to be a natural occurrence within the perfectly chaotic landscape. The refined wilderness that only a British country could bring. Tweeds, tartans, and knits are another part of the natural environment. Vines overgrow in a hug around your home. The thistle-laden highlands of Scotland, the rolling hills of England, or perhaps the patchwork-greenery of Wales would all work; they all serve as a place of perfection and my type of, highly desired, country. 

Edie Campbell.



Edie again, this time with Otis Ferry.

Amanda Harlech.

Lady A. Harlech again.

Her home.

Her home and hound.

Her, home, and horse.

Harlech and Horse.

Amanda Brooks.

Amanda Brooks.

Amanda Brooks' dog. Any animal would love to romp around those paths.

Amanda Brooks' country.

Amanda Brooks.