Food for the Fashion Soul

In honor of the start of fashion week (full schedule of shows here), I thought it would be a great idea to talk about fashion documentaries.  Being that I am a lover of history…Fashion history (yes I’m a nerd) and love indulging in a great documentary, my curiosity lies in learning the beginning of a thing, whether it is a house, magazine or designer. So here are my top favorite fashion documentaries (in no particular order):

dv1. The Eye has to Travel, Diana Vreeland 2012
I’ve mentioned the great editor/fabulous fashion icon Diana Vreeland in another post. I love her, simple as that. Known as the “Empress of Fashion”, the movie documents her illustrious career, undeniable influence in the world of fashion and a peek inside of her personal life. If you graze or devour Harper’s Bazaar or Vogue magazines, you should definitely check this one out.

 

Sept      2. The September Issue, 2009
As you guessed, the doc is all about Vogue magazine’s 2007 September issue, the biggest (sometimes 500 pages!) issue of the year. Countless established and young designers dream of getting on those pages and Wintour does not make it easy. The doc goes behind the scenes and details the steps involved in getting the issue to print. There are note worthy appearances of heavy hitters in fashion: Grace Coddington (read her memoir!), Oscar de la Renta, Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano (I still consider him a heavy hitter). Models, photographers, stylists, editors and movie stars all color the timeless documentary.

 

val3. Valentino: the Last Emperor, 2009
Beautifully shot and told, this is the story of the life and times of Valentino Garavani, Italian fashion designer. Intimate and vivid, the viewer gets a peek of the prestigious man of the hour and the remarkable career he has led.  It’s Valentino…enough said. If you are looking for inspiration, look no further!

 

Verailles      4. Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution, 2012

The ultimate showdown between the well established giants of the fashion universe (at that time) and the little known, often discounted American ready to wear designers.  The iconic runway show took place at the grandiose Versailles Palace and featured show stealing African American beauty Pat Cleveland.  The American designs wowed their competition earing respect and a play among fashion royalty.  The more experienced French team comprised of Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin and Emanuel Ungaro were powerhouses and considered the leaders of couture fashion.  The less known American team was represented by Anne Klein, Oscar de la Renta, Halston, Bill Blass and Stephen Burrows. The rockstar competition changed the face of American fashion and the use of African American models forever.

Honorable Mentions (worth watching if you have the opportunity):

Bill  Bill Cunningham New York

halston

Ultrasuede In Search of Halston

scatter-my-ashes-at-bergdorfs

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s

The Prison of Perfection

Looking into the mirror has challenged many a women throughout history.  Even the strongest of feminists will admit, they too, sometimes cringe at the reflection staring back at them.  Women are programmed, from a very young age, to sacrifice all for beauty, that it is everything. The standard of beauty in our country creates an illusion of perfection.  Perfect hair.  Perfect Makeup.  Perfect Life.  The constant influx of perfection is plastered on magazines, billboards, and social media every single day creating an unconscious desire to be perfect.  There are thousands of step-by-step instructional tutorials across the world wide web illustrating, in real time, the hows, the whys, and ways to achieve such a staggering faux persona.  Women spend billions each year on cosmetic surgery and expensive clothing with the hope of reaching that unreachable end of the rainbow called perfection.  Celebrities are idolized and reality “stars” given an audience and platform that impacts and influences the ideal of perfection. We look at ourselves in the mirror and instead of just loving and accepting what is seen, we judge. Harshly.  Pick apart each detail that doesn’t quite measure up to the standard of beauty smeared across phone and computer screens every second of every day.  We nip, tuck, pull, push, stuff, slither our way into uncomfortable clothing.  We purchase shoes with red bottoms and brag about it on social media.  We beat our faces “for the gawds” and insert Rapunzel length hair onto our heads. Thus creating the perception of perfection.  And we are never satisfied.  If we get a compliment tossed in our direction, instead of graciously accepting it,  we secretly want more because our desire is for great.  If great becomes the word, we still want more, we want fabulous.  If we get fabulous, we want fierce.  Attempting to pacify a longing, a hunger within, we dress the outside package up and tie a pretty ribbon around it.  Ignoring the constant barrage of inaquadecy and self -hatred that burns through the tissue of the soul.  Leading to a slow and painful annulation of that which is precious and pure.  This is what happens when another’s perception or definition of yourself is allowed to trump what you know to be true.  Flawless on the outside but broken on the inside.  I have a natural inclination towards French culture, particularly Parisian women.  J’adore the rhythm of life in the “City of Light”, the innovative fashion and style, the ancient architecture.  But my real obsession is with Parisian women.  Why? Because they’ve managed, in the times we live in, to remain unmoved by the idea of perfectionism, the standard of beauty.  Parisian women have mastered the art of acceptance.  A crooked nose, bad skin, a mouth slightly askew, all of it is beautiful! Acceptance is the standard of beauty. Effortlessly chic is the wardrobe of choice because Parisian women understand it matters not who you are wearing or even what you choose to adorn yourself in.  There is no external standard of beauty to a Parisian woman because she is the standard of beauty.  Herself.  Her life.  Not some 5’10 ultra slim photo enhanced beauty on the latest cover of a magazine.  Her perception is based on what she knows to be true about herself and how she’s grown to love herself.  She has that extra unspoken something, the illusive je ne sais quoi that is non threatening to other women and is a radiant life force.  She isn’t self centered or approval seeking.  She is simply herself, imperfectly perfect in her own skin.

Are you ready? To be no longer a prisoner of perfection but a free being? Yes? The key isn’t tucked away, hidden from you, it is right where its been the entire time…in your hand.

 

The Chameleon: Kate Moss

katemoss

 

    Intriguing.  Alluring.  Beautiful.  These are just a few terms used to describe model Kate Moss.  One of the most sought models in the fashion industry, she is paparazzi gold as she attracts media attention everywhere.  In honor of her latest collaboration with London giant retailer, Top Shop, here are a few editorial fashion photographs of the chameleon.  The collection has a 70s flair to it (perfect match to the American Hustle mood board), is reasonably priced (some pieces sold out within minutes of the launch) and can add a cool chic London feel to any wardrobe.  Enjoy! Be sure to check out the collection at http://www.topshop.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

katemoss1katemoss4katemoss8 katemoss9katemoss7 katemoss6 katemoss5katemoss3katemoss2

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Spring 2014 Wishlist

 

 

     Spring is the season of new beginnings, it is when we shed off our wintery skin (wardrobe) and layers and replace it with lighter fabrics and more vivid selections. The fashions gods in New York, London and Paris have spoken and since I have a direct line to said gods (yes I do, in my mind lol) here is a quick recap of Spring 2014 RTW. Draw inspiration to create your own original version of spring’s wishlist!*

 

New York:

Prints, prints and more prints! Whether tribal or mixed, prints were splattered all over the runway as designers found new and innovative ways to showcase them. Other great color combos were: pastels+neutrals, white+black and white+metallics.

bibhu spr donna spr dvf spr zac spr

 

London:

It was all about bold, modern and sleek fashion in the City, think hipster cool kid with chic sophisticate. Most designers stuck with a contemporary white+black palette, mixing in a splash of color as a personal signature, while others went wild with lustrous fruity colors.

casasola erdem spr olowu tom spr

 

Paris:

Bring on the seductive lady of fashion! Designers here turned the volume all the way up on femininity and were not afraid to show some skin! The collections kept in mind the effortless construction and delicate balance that makes a Parisian woman the ideal style tutor.

balmain spr valli spr vauthier sprsaab spr

 

 

 

 

*wishlist: Provocative term used to describe the must haves of the moment or season

 

 

 

 

All photos courtesy of style.com