The Age of Microwave Fashion?

I recently read an interesting article on the web from the Boston Consulting Group and Business of Fashion. It focused on the plight of fashion houses recruiting viable talent to develop current brands. Nearly 70 percent of luxury brands find it difficult to place creative directors, many citing inadequate talent pipelines. One of the biggest challenges facing luxury and fashion companies today is finding, developing, and retaining great creative and business, as stated by Jean-Marc Bellaiche and Sarah Willersdorf, a partner and principal at BCG.

All across the board, in design and product development, technology and general management in fashion are gaping holes needed to be filled by talent.  But the greater problem beneath this current one faced by larger retail companies and fashion houses alike isn’t easily visible to the naked eye. Companies are searching for artists that have the ability to become, stepping into a role and growing.  The key word in the article is develop. Because of the lightening speed at which we absorb, post, infiltrate the internet today, many of these people lying the talent pool have no desire to be students, i.e., get developed.  Because the internet makes everyone a star…plumps up a faux resume, produces incredible geniuses…and at the tip of a finger one can quickly and unanimously become larger than life. We are inundated with rockstar status IG profiles where living a fashionable lifestyle is envied and admired leading to the notion that being famous is more important than developing (being a student).  No longer are there eager students, hungry for knowledge, humble in approach, those that understand the process of starting from the bottom to learn the business of fashion as a way of life.  No, no.  Studying has been replaced by delusions of grandeur, with the aim of cult like celebrity followers as the ultimate goal.  These faux “fashionistas” (btw I loathe that word) are armed with Google, a MAC illustrator (because no real sketching required nowadays) and the latest Vogue magazine for fast imitation inspiration.  To each his own.  But what happens when the famously internet stars began to outnumber school education or ones who’ve taken the time to develop, i.e. paid their dues?  What type of predicament will the business of fashion be left in?  A quiet but massive chaotic storm is brewing in the fashion community.  The gaping hole between the creative side and business of fashion exists, and not acknowledging it will not make it disappear.  And until both sides in the fashion community can put aside egos and learn to work together co-existing, the future of fashion is at risk.

 

You can read the full article here: The Race for Talent and Luxury in Fashion.  Share your thoughts with me!

Designer Spotlight: Norman Ambrose

We live in a time where everything is instantaneous. Quick. The internet serves as grand wizard with social media reporting the latest greatest at the impossible speed as soon as it materializes. We’ve gotten so used to fast that more and more living, doing, creating is taking on this approach, becoming the norm.  Artists, at times, can find themselves in the middle of this exact predicament. Creating quickly in order to produce forsaking the very reason for the creation. It is absolutely beautiful when an artist takes the time and opportunity to allow his creations to develop, from seed (thought, inspiration) to full bloom (collection).  I knew this was a way of life the first time I laid eyes on Norman Ambrose at Fashion Houston in 2011. Exquisite craftsmanship, luxurious fabrics, handmade embellishments all color a haute couture piece by Ambrose. His designs are dreams of old world aristocrat, assembled, cut and impeccably tailored to gracefully mold the body inside of its masterpiece. Glamour is his specialty, and whether designing for a Baroness, a New York socialite or the modern woman of style and grace, Norman Ambrose is a true atelier and artist. His background education has served him well in the creative arena, he is a graduate of the Academy of Art University of San Francisco, and was bestowed the opportunity to study at the Instituto Europeo di Design in Italy. Ambrose’s resume is impressive, he was afforded the dream chance to train under a pattern cutter from the prestigious House of Balenciaga and a tailor under the iconic Bill Blass.

 

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I love collections that construct an intriguing narrative, that have the capability to hold a person captive while one stares lustfully at a runway while each piece weaves the completed fairytale.  I love collections that mesmerizes; leaves you desiring more.  It is beautiful to witness a designer takes such pride in his craftsmanship, allowing an inside peek into the vivid inner workings of his mind, blessing you with the opportunity to explore his thoughts or providing a source of inspiration.  I was blessed with the opportunity to meet and interview Mr. Ambrose not once but twice (with Fashionably Houston)!  What a grand break that was in my fashion life at the time.  Soft spoken, gracious and humble, I was impressed even the more by Mr. Ambrose after interviewing him. I simply adore and admire him.

You can follow Norman Ambrose on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for current details from the designer!

 

 

Here is an excerpt of my recap after witnessing his runway show in 2011:

 

The sun.  Brilliant, radiant, magnificent, the perpetual light that ignites the world and prevents eternal darkness from swallowing us whole.  Life would be impossible without it…now imagine sitting in a spacious room with a runway at the center and experiencing the sun…in its entire splendor…from the slow rise out of the east, to the intense luminosity of day, ending with its glorious subdued descent.  On Wednesday night at Fashion Houston 2011, Norman Ambrose delivered the sun.  He  fashioned his S/S 2012 collection to represent the cycles of the sun; carefully choose a color palette to interpret his vision and set ablaze the souls of fashion lovers everywhere.   Vibrant noir…shimmering metallic gold… iridescent silver… pale apricot…lustrous tangelo… to an exuberant then soften coral.  It was sensory overload but in the most marvelous way!  And that was just the color palette.

 

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Lupita, Lupita

  
Dearest Lupita,

   6:15pm CST.  The collective sigh as you made your appearance on red carpet at the Met Gala is the maddening reason behind this post.  You are a star.  Destined for greatness.  Your humble spirit and immense talent speaks volume.  The world has taken a seat in your audience, eagerly awaiting your next move.  But let’s address the daring move you made last night, I get it, it was your JLo-in-the-Versace-at-the-Grammys-moment.  You wanted to make a bold statement.  After all, you have stunned and silenced us throughout this award season.  Radiant in Ralph Lauren, Glorious in Gucci, Dazzling in Dior and Charming in Chanel.  On Oscar night, I expected the mecca of dresses and though you looked graceful and elegant as always in Oscar de La Renta I must admit I was quite disappointed.  This was your chance to showcase your true beauty and fashion sense (and your stylist).  You didn’t flunk out but you failed to excite. 

Last night you excited but you failed to ignite.  The Met Gala red carpet wasn’t the place for the flapper inspired emerald green Prada gown and the Star Wars headpiece.  Where was the architecture (structure)? Volume? Charles James inspiration? Red carpet fashion is about risk taking but the Prada was a poor choice for a beautiful starlet.  Please, Lupita redeem yourself in only the way you can. By dazzling us once again and enrapturing us under your magical fashion spell.

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Met Gala, 2014 Edition

charles   Each spring, celebrities and fashion lovers unite at the fundraising gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute known as the Met Gala.  Fashion Mecca.  Fashion Prom.  Each year brings a new exhibition (and theme) highlighting the creative work of innovative designers.  This year’s exhibition is Charles James: Beyond Fashion, showcasing the designer life of “America’s first couturier.”  James, a British-born designer, known widely for his architectural aesthetic with many pieces being interchangeable keeping his ideas new and fresh.  Exquisite tailoring and lush embroidered ball gowns were signatures of James.

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There was just one dress tonight….just one…it represented Mr. James well and it was simply stunning.  Karolina Kurkova in dreamy Marchesa.

 

 

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Kurkova stunned two years ago at the Met Gala in Rachel Zoe.  The theme was inspired by the exhibition of Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.

 

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The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

The evil doer often comes to harm through his own deceit.–Aesop fable

 

Woody Allen.  Robert Kelly.  Terrance “Terry” Richardson.  These three men are regarded as the crème de la crème in their respected industries and have all been accused, some tried in a court of law, and found guilty by the public of inappropriate sexual behavior.  All have gone to the greatest of lengths to cover and annihilate the “rumors” of accusations, even penning public proclamations of innocence.  The latest scandal of the three features famed fashion and portrait photographer, Terry Richardson.  Known for his explicit, often nude, images of models and celebrities, Richardson has photographed some of the best in the business and worked for top publications.  His resume is quite impressive; his work well received and is name is infamous.  But the allegations that appeared via Twitter three days ago published by Emma Appleton are not the first of its kind.  In 2010 and 2013, Richardson, who’s explicit often nude images tend to push the boundary of sexual and appropriate behaviors, stood accused of similar conduct by professionals in the industry.  Dirt was slung from both sides as Richardson and his supporters fought to discredit the voices that cried foul and defend his brand and name.  As with most sensationalized internet stories, the debacle settled into dust particles as the fire slowly burned into nothingness without a clear indication of the true details of the he said she said battle.  Richardson continued to work and play as, I’m certain, he felt he dodged the flaming arrows of injustice and the attempt to vilify his persona.  But on Sunday, US Vogue issued a clear and concise public statement, proclaiming,”The last assignment Terry Richardson had for US Vogue appeared in the July 2010 issue and we have no plans to work with him in the future.” Quickly distancing itself from the scandal and possible storm of criticism that will transpire in the future (Vogue has recently had its share, and more of public judgment handed to them by the Kim and Kanye cover mess). What’s different about the scandal of today versus yesterday is public support.  No one, not one person, has come to stand behind Richardson.  The photographer himself hasn’t spoken a word except one lousy standard declaration through his publicist.  The silence seeping through Richardson’s dark room isn’t good; it would appear there is some difficulty in finding influential voices that are willing to buck against the power of Anna Wintour and Vogue.

Where does this leave Richardson? Innocent, guilty or perhaps the conversation in question between himself and Appleton was blown out of proportion, it will take quite a miraculous turn of events for this situation to be favorable for him.  Richardson can kiss the power his name once yielded goodbye.  Yes, he will continue to work and play perhaps not as boldly, but his seat is no longer perched atop of the industry.  Remember John Galliano? I do, as many others; however we don’t often hear his name anymore, read about any recent work or accomplishments.  The same fate, I believe, awaits Terry Richardson.

Alexander Wang, H&M and the ghost of Nicolas Ghesquiere

The announcement came early Sunday morning evoking excitement everywhere: Alexander Wang for H&M, coming November 2014. And the masses rejoiced. The internet appeared titillated with the news of Swedish mega retailer, Hennes & Mauritz, a brand synonymous with affordable fashion for the masses with its latest collaboration. But just below the surface of the euphoria lies still, the unexamined story of the silent but deadly departure of Nicolas Ghesquière and the appointment of wonderkid Alexander Wang at the prestigious house of Balenciaga. It was indeed a strange selection, questioned by many of fashion’s elite. Wang, known for his ultra-modern designs overlaid with youthful freshness, wasn’t seen as the ideal candidate by outsiders. Would he be able to carry out the vision and produce marketable fashion without losing the Balenciaga touch? Ghesquière exceled at, was a genius at, creating what the public wasn’t even aware it wanted. He moved the brand into mainstream fashion, increased its visibility, and as sales skyrocketed, he brought a sense of stability and practicality to the label. For 15 years, Balenciaga blossomed under Ghesquière as his designs were critically acclaimed. But behind closed doors, a storm brewed. Constant clashes with management partners and battles to maintain his creative identity without comprising the label ultimately took its toll on the designer. And in November 2012, finally at the end of a journey he saw months in the making concluded and Ghesquière “abruptly” ended his union with Balenciaga.  His appointment at the house of Louis Vuitton in late 2013 conveyed the impression that the lengthy chapter of a horrid fairytale had ended. No such luck for the genius designer as a 2014 trial date has been set in the case of Balenciaga Vs Ghesquière. How does all of this tie into the collaboration of Alexander Wang and H&M? One could pounder. My speculation is Wang, quite aware of the enormous shoes he’s  stepped into and the tainted stench of the ugly divorce of his predecessor, may actually be in over his head at Balenciaga.  His acceptance of the contract with H&M is a creative outlet much needed in his world. Make no mistake, on his own, Wang is a dynamic designer. This current partnership will bring his label and name to places unreachable by the prestige of Balenciaga. And It will definitely create more financial freedom, stability and newer, richer ventures for Wang. I believe he needs this collaboration,  in order not to sacrifice his gift, his ability to create and career aspirations. The need to keep his identity separate from Balenciaga is a must if he is going to survive.  My sincerest hope is Wang doesn’t suffer the same fate as Ghesquière, because as any artist can attest to, there is no greater fear than being boxed in, closed up into a tiny space and being controlled by invisible strings of a larger than life puppet master. Being instructed on what, how, when and where to create. For a true artist, the freedom to dream, think, process, execute on our own terms is the very purest form of creation, the very breathe of life to our souls.  Good luck and Godspeed Alexander Wang, you will need it in the future.