Friday, July 31, 2009


Sometimes I feel redundant. Redundant isn't the right word. Repetitive maybe?

What I mean is I keep coming back to certain things as a designer and a passionate observer of all things stylishly aesthetic. In this instance, I am referring to my obsession with the trapeze line and the shift.

I keep trying to move past it, but every time I see it I become intoxicated allover again with it. There is such a purity of line that, to me , compasseth all understanding (as the Bible would say). Its so effortless, so serenely elegant. I feel like fashion today has lost that completely. Yes, there is a panoply of easy to wear clothes out there, but the say NOTHING! As Kay Thompson said in DV style in Funny Face, "It doesn't SPEAK! And if doesn't speak to me, it won't speak to anyone." They maybe simple, but its not emphatic. I LIVE for emphatic simplicity in design. Even if there is a degree of exuberance, there still must me a simplicity about it. Like a Pucci shift or a jewel encrusted swing dress.

The opposite of this, which is also very prevalent in the market, is fussiness. I remember Polly Mellen in Unzipped saying "Fussy. Finished." LOL! And its so true. All the ruching, wrapping and furbelows...its just too much sometimes. There is no cleanness to it. Now don't get me wrong. I love the extras and the excesses of fashion. Anyone who ever saw a picture of me dressed up, would know that. But there has to be a balance in the market and in the consumers' wardrobes. For every ruched sheath,with epaulets, blouson sleeves, and asymmetrical neckline, and for every cotton t-shirt dress, you need 2 or 3 utterly simple, but strong shifts. I guess I feel there's not enough of that out there for me.

So even though I find something interesting about most of what out there today, and get tingles when I see something new that resonates with the inner "vainglorious vanguardist" in me that is always on the hunt for something marvelous and new, when I see the ineffable glory of a Norrell or Mainbocher or Balenciaga or Simonetta, everything else falls away and disappears from view and I want only it. What I am learning is to, as a designer, be ok with that. To do what feels right, what resonates, what speaks to me on that deepest, truest level and not worry about being a sensation or giving them the latest. To just do what I know and what I do best. And if that means I can't dress everyone, ok. The few I will dress, will be stunning and will be fulfilled by what I bring to them.

My Favorite Things

I am currently obsessed with the music of Gino Vannelli. He's a genius.

This song is so damn funky! It evokes a louche SEXUAL feel like that of a Helmut Newton photograph.

This song has an equally louche, but more SENSUAL feel, more reminiscent of an Author Elgort.

My Favorite Things

Shoulder Pads!

I know it UBER-trendy right now to rock shoulder pads. But those of you who know me, Know I have been pinning shoulder pads inside any garment I could since at least 2001!!!

Its not about a trend for me. Its about the perfection of silhouette. For me it gives a strong foundation for any garment. Everything falls from the shoulder. If you want a smaller waist , broaden the shoulder. I naturally have a strong shoulder, but the heightened perfection of additional half inch to 2 inches of height (not necessarily width), makes a great look sublime. And it makes my less than minuscule waist seem significantly smaller, without being femininely waspy.

The only problem with shoulder pads- in the vintage sense- are the ones of the late 80s, when the trend had reach literally gigantic proportions. If you pay attention, the shoulder pad of the late 70s to mid 80s focused more on height. The did not extend the width of the shoulder beyond its natural end. But somewhere around 85-87, the shoulder became exaggeratedly wide, extending the shoulder OUT another 3 inches or more. Granted, this did give a FIERCE wasp waist to the ladies and the guys looked like Gary Cooper on steroids, but it was a bit much and really cannot be re-applied to today's trend for a strong shoulder. (The exception being someone so aesthetically driven that they can work just about anything... read: Myself!!!)


My Look for Fall 09. Wait for it....


Southern vernacular for "glamour".
Origins :Created by my friend Anthony Monday night when discussing why as a youth I preferred Dynasty over Knot's Landing. He said because I need "GLAM'MA"!!! Not glamour, but GLAM'MA! And he was so right!

To illustrate my point, enjoy one of my favorite scenes from Dynasty, featuring Alexis Carrington Colby and Dominique Deveraux...

And what the hell, this one too! Notice how very now Alexis' jacket is!...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Everday Life and Observations

I miss Dynel falls...
I cannnot even express the instant Glam'ma!!!

Editorialism in Mainstream Media

I came across this old commercial that I was mesmerized by when I first saw it as a child. It was for Lady Clairol and it featured models in the iconic 60's plexiglass bubble.

Seeing this commercial again made me think of several things...

First it reminded me of my favorite part of the film "Valley of the Dolls": the fashion modeling montage in which the main character Anne Wells becomes the Gillian Girl. The tone of the faux advertisement in the film and the real one for Clairol is identical, from the voice over to the swelling background music.
(forward to 7:20 mins)

My next thought was how straight out of the pages of Vogue magazine the Clairol ad seemed. Its a direct take from the work of photographer Melvin Sokolsky. This is one my favorites of his photographs, mainly because of the severe elegance of the Lanvin Castillo gown and the Alexandre de Paris up-do, but also for its amazing composition.

It struck me how amazing it was- the immediate affect high fashion had on mainstream media at that time. Sokolsky's work was and remains highly was the product of the Vreeland era of fashion images, as compared to the preceding austere Carmel Snow era and the succeeding realism of the Mirabella era. Usually that which is highly editorial, whether hyper-sexualized in nature or pure flight of fancy and fantasy, is watered down considerably before it is given to the general public via television or some other less esoteric medium. But in this almost surreal epoque of the mid and late 60s, the image is a direct, unfettered representation of its original inspiration.

I feel we lack this today. I feel like for all the wonderful things still happening in high fashion and the striking editorial images still being produced, its not significantly or sufficiently trickling down to the masses. There is no glamour... no real INSPIRATION nor ASPIRATION. But maybe its just ole, nostalgic me?

So I pose the question, how do you feel the fashion editorial impacts mainstream media images today?? Is it watered down OR is high fashion accurately represented? Or do you think the reverse is true and that the mainstream media is influencing the editorial trends?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chic Contentment

This was written last night around 11pm...

I often feel like all I have is chic. Its like that Judy Garland song “If love were all”…”I believe that since this life began the most I’ve ever had is the talent to amuse”. So true. Amuse and exude style. The two combined is a powerful combination, no doubt. But it also can be excruciatingly lonely. Even when there are dozens around you , lapping it up, basking in the glow of glamour and the warmth of wit, wisdom, and compassion.

There are times when you want to put chic down…or the effort of chic, more precisely. You can’t stop being what you innately are. But the effort sometimes feels empty….especially when it has to be used as a filler for other things that are missing. Spending the late evening planning new ensembles for the week, or creating a new piece of jewelry, or dreaming of more elegant costumes for exquisite evenings that may or may not be on the horizon WHEN you really just want to be watching a movie, snuggly in the arms of one who loves you and whom you love in return. It gets played out real quick…especially when its nightly or daily over a period of time.

Chic is my passion. Its one of my raisons d’etre. It always will be. And as long as I live, I will be perpetually in pursuit of that which is chic. But I know there’s more and I want it and yet it seems to be so elusive for some reason. I come close, but it never lasts, or its never right. So I end up sitting in my den in some fabulous get up, with no place to go and no one to be in the moment with. Or lying in my bed, staring wistfully and wantonly at the ceiling with a magnificent jewel on my finger and maybe a mink piece in petting distance, listening to and FEELING Phyllis Hyman. I think I shall retire to the latter now. If wallowing in the truth of my emotions doesn’t feel right tonight, then I’ll just escape into a Bette Davis film…or maybe Hitchcock…something distractingly mesmerizing.

As I write this though, I think maybe the problem is that I keep expecting something to change. For the outcome of my efforts toward greater fulfillment to be different “this time” for some reason. Maybe I should resign myself to the fact that a chic life is all I am entitled to and to somehow make that and let that be enough…eliminating the desire and the expectation (and subsequent disappointment). I do feel I am worthy and deserving of something more and I guess that keeps me from complete resignation to the state of things as they are, but because I am worthy and deserving doesn’t mean a thing in this life. I still may never get it, so accept it and move on contentedly.

I suppose I should clarify for those who may misconstrue this. I have much more than just chic and am extremely grateful for the people and things I have in my life, as well as my many other sterling qualities. But chic is one of those things that is uniquely and solely mine…the way a real, great love is. So what I am lamenting is having only one passion- chic- rather than two: chic AND a love of my own. Why do I place chic on the same plane as great love? Because its exclusively my own. Even my wit and wisdom aren’t exclusively mine as I know many who have my same sense of humor and kind of wisdom…they are my friends. But there is truly no one with my exact same special brand of chic. But I digress…

Contentment with chic…correction:GREATER contentment with chic…we will work on that…

I ended up watching my tape of Judy Garland live performances from the 60s. Did the trick. :-)