Friday, September 28, 2007

gucci girl

"Gucci by Gucci"
dir., David Lynch

This is pretty but is it wrong that I want more?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

sex and the city

"Hotel Chevalier"
dir., Wes Anderson

A prequel of sorts, Wes Anderson whets our appetite before his next cinematic feast for the eyes, "The Darjeeling Limited", with this simple short film about a man and a woman in a hotel room. I love the mustache on Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman has never been so commanding in her on screen sexuality. They play off each other really well although at time it feels like too much of a poured on pastiche and homage to an era of French cinema gone by. I could have easily seen Jean Louis-Tringnant and some pouty-lipped strumpet of the day playing the same roles and engaging in the same banal banter that climaxes in a quiet and sexy pause on a posh hotel balcony. Anderson's trademark wide angle lens, unrelenting esoteric pop music, and slow motion shots are there, but this feels new and more revealing for Anderson namely because of the film's overt but abstracting use of sex. Who knew eroticism and Wes Anderson would be uttered in the same breath?

jil sander

The most necessary item women will need next spring and summer is a reliable pair of underwear. Transparency was a big trend in New York and it resurfaces in Milan where it lends itself to a different take on sensual lightness. The Belgian thinker with a background in menswear, Raf Simons experimented with his own riff on light, movement, and the body at the typically austere Jil Sander.

Over the past handful of seasons since Simons has taken over as chief designer at Jil Sander, he has consistently and expertly crafted a Jil Sander woman that is intelligent, modern, and rigorously chic in the same way Uma Thurman was in "Gattaca" or Tilda Swinton is in any anything. She's a little futuristic, a little provocative in her purity, and a lot evolutionary in her precise and architectural look. The suit and the dress have been Simon's expertise since delving into womenswear (this is only his fifth womenswear show ever) and in this collection he experimented with both pieces that are so central to a woman's wardrobe in a completely refreshing and forward thinking way. Billowy and diaphanous pieces were more present than ever but the same attention to fit and tailoring was not lost in the least. It was lightness on the body done by someone who is curious about things that are perhaps too cerebral for us to understand but he remains very conscientious of who he designs for and that is what keeps us coming back for the simple surprises Simons always has in store.

Simon's appetite for the refined and restrained have been deftly honed ever so slightly each season, but what was fantastic about this show is that he seemed to loosen up a bit and try colors that were new for him and new shapes without losing his personality or what he has already established. Simons worked his usual long and lean shape but added dimension to it by breathing a cloud of tulle around the otherwise structured shape. Volume also showed up in wide-legged pants that were paired with torso elongated tops to give the look a contrast and range. Antenna-thin pants were more narrow than usual but played against those Hammer pants in just the right way. A woman can find her fit somewhere in those pants but be most excited by the colors and interesting play on tops. Shades of creamsicle, shocking pink, and cobalt blue popped more when they were layered in squares of organza or tulle that appeared to be a new variation on the geometric shapes that underscores a Jil Sander collection. Some of the cocktail dresses and maxi dresses looked like Orgami bouquets or naughty blurs of sweet but dirty thoughts. Simons's ability to layer, literally, and place panels of material atop another gives color a different context and offers a brief glimpse of the flesh underneath was neither vulgar or garish. Simon's vision was so relaxed and full of movement that its breeziness and the evocation of something like colored smoke would be perfect for a late night of Champagne on a yacht on the Amalfi Coast.

Body consciousness is redefined at Jil Sander where it's not necessarily clothing that constricts and confines, but draws the eye in to see something more bare and inviting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

burberry prorsum

I've always thought Christopher Bailey has a more persuasive personal style than what he typically envisions for Burberry. His suits cut a strong figure, but he's also slightly relaxed and looks comfortable without being too fussy and overdone. And then I see another collection that is bloated with more and more stuff. I don't think one's personal style should be entirely reflective in your design aesthetic but maybe Bailey always feels like he has to over compensate just a little bit to make up for the other wise conservative and traditional brand.

New York taught us that lightness is vital for spring and perhaps Milan has something oppose to that idea because Bailey's look for spring 2008 is hard, heavy, and overt. The neutral palette that largely consisted of every shade of gunmetal works for the chic warrior theme. Studded belts grabbed at the waist and naughty gossamer socks paired themselves with sexy stilettos. Sunglasses made for the Special Ops Forces and the influence of militarism in the form of hard edged jackets or various takes on the trench coat would be perfect for any man or woman on a mission. However, reduction is not one of Bailey's strengths when he veers into this tough babe territory with unnecessary and contrived additions thrown together for one whole look that snowballed into a decidedly underwhelming and out of place collection. Ruching, fringe, lots and lots of studs, lace up accents, and everything else was all too much and too much of an obvious take on luxury. After all these are clothes made for people with a lot of money and according to Bailey they want to wear that fact. I'm also always confused as to what kind of man Bailey has in mind because I don't know too many men, even the most fashionably adventurous, who want sequined tops, gold lame trenches, or Michael Jacksonesque army jackets. Focus and a less is more attitude could lead Bailey into more interesting waters where for spring everything isn't so feigned in its toughness and tarted up in its luxuriousness.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

first look: into the wild

"Into the Wild"
dir., Sean Penn

When he isn't tending to survivors of Hurricane Katrina, Sean Penn finds the time to fashion a film that Scott Foundas of the The Village Voice hails "unusually soulful" and "poetic"." This looks all fine and dandy, but I couldn't stop staring at Vince Vaughn and his goatee. Is that a reaction to the meida hype that was Vaughnistan?

Monday, September 24, 2007

a new world, a new man

NOTE: There might be plot spoiling elements for those who have not seen the films discussed in this essay. I highly recommend you see both immediately.

In the new millennium the effects of global immigration, neo-conservative politics that plague and add to the paranoia and fearfulness of modern society, and violence as a threat to an apathetic culture have trickled down to not only shaping our world at large but ushering in a new hero on film. He's a little world weary, abides by a ardent moral and ethical code, and personifies a paradox that exudes a murky duality. Two recent films, Paul Greengrass's "The Bourne Ultimatum" and David Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises" present such men in the form of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) and Nikolai Luzhin(Viggo Mortensen), who are eternally at odds with their environments and themselves. These two quietly hard boiled specimens exist in a world that is dark and shadowy in its corrupt fueled hierarchy, geographically influenced by a globalized society, and a life is of rich value although they are frequently asked to compromise that fact and dig into that devilish and violent core that typifies the other side of the angelic coin. It's that rabid violence that defines them but they are just as revolted by their power as they are attracted to it. These two creatures could not be any more disparate but the violent tie that binds them is unshakable and revealing of a new desensitized attitude towards violence as portrayed in mainstream media. It's a little more grim and grisly, but could that be our sick desire to watch it or is it simply a mirror effect of what's happening in the crevices of the never ending saga that is the War on Terror?

In the third installment of the Jason Bourne series we find our dashing and brooding hero at the apex of his fight to obtain not only his identity but expose the organization that has controlled him and made him fight for his identity. "The Bourne Ultimatum" informs us that a sect of the Central Intelligence Agency brainwashed "willing" participants in an experiment to transform your well intentioned government agents into a precise and mentally vacant killing machine. They don't ask questions but they are well equipped with the knowledge of how to kill without a trace. Images of Bourne enduring various methods of torture and exploitation call to mind the atrocities of Abu Ghraib. This learned form of sadistic violence backfires when Bourne uses his power not for the intended purposes of reinforcing fear, dominance, and other forms of scare tactics but rather to bring down the root of all evil, white male privilege that exists in powerful positions. C.I.A. Deputy Director Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) and Dr. Albert Hirsch (Albert Finney) are the Gepetto-like masters who have exploited the fragility and apathy of post-9/11 America, where such heinous acts are justifiable if they are tagged with the phrase, "We are trying to protect the American people." Protection fades into harm when America is bamboozled in effort to protect the inept and corrupt that rule and control the Western world. Bourne's violent intuition is a reaction to this idea and thus is not used to oppress but liberate, and for that he is no longer part of the system that binds him.

A fight scene between Bourne and an agent sent to kill him is one of the most well choreographed and frenetic fight scenes I've ever seen. Set in a tightly confined home in Tangiers, Bourne explodes on the agent using his physical strength and instinct, which is quite different for a major fight scene in a studio blockbuster. No shower of bullets or dialogue said with a smirk; this is the primal and violent side of man. Bourne uses his hands or grabs a book or wash cloth to protect himself. Greengass, ever the stylist, propels the action with a cinema vérité inspired handheld camera and natural light. The scene is visceral and culminates in an intense brawl in a dingy bathroom where Bourne grits his teeth like a possessed beast when his hands choke the last breath out of his foe. However, in the next scene Bourne is remorseful and responsible for his actions. He loathes that the only way he knows how to solve a matter of someone infringing upon his life is to destroy and obliterate the opposing force. This humanism imbues the Bourne character with an interesting layer that most plastic and pumped up action heroes are completely removed of. The Bourne films ponders the possibility of whether good is achievable when evil is almost inherently has to be used. It's a daring proposition that also finds a place in the underbelly of the Russian mafia in Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises."

Similar to "The Bourne Ultimatum", a moody pall drifts over the story that is set in a new London experiencing the influx of Russian and other eastern cultures. Nikolai's internal conflict becomes more transparent when Anna (Naomi Watts), a midwife, searches for the identity of a newborn's family. The mother of a child, a deceased teenage prostitute, leaves her diary that leads Anna to Nikolai and the or vory v zakone. He's as steely and stiff as his bouffant of silver hair that rests hard on his head. His role as the chauffeur for the mob makes him present without having to be entirely culpable of the mob's decisions. His boss, the indomitable patriarch, Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) speaks with a voice that sounds like tires grinding on gravel and his intense eyes twinkle with evil that bely his meek old man exterior. It wouldn't be far off to compare the President and his family to Semyon and his boozy fuck up a son, Kirill (Vincent Cassel), where loyalty and tradition are equally important but potentially fatal. The theme of survival is key in the film and particularly in context to the Nikolai's relationship with the family that is coming undone as secrets bubble to the surface and possibly damage their power.

Survival and what that means in the world now is a perfect frame of reference for both films because of their almost back to primitivism points of view. In a world where contemporary politics and violence have turned arbiters of violence into machine gun toting androids, Nikolai's body becomes his means of survival. Tattoos etched across his body explain his history of violence and his eventual transcendence into a morally reprehensible heaven/hell. It's taken too a brutal level when Nikolai's true identity is almost entirely eradicated during a fight in a steamy bathhouse finds Nikolai at his most vulnerable. Devoid of clothes, weaponry, or tricky editing, Nikolai defends himself, naked, against two clothed thugs, suggesting the tension between the savaged and the civilized. It's a thrilling sight to watch a man removed from everything comfortable and contemporary transform into a something so primitive and basic. He's naked, full of instinct, and no one is going to take his precious life. In a Scorsesian way the camera pulls back at the end of the scene to examine the carnage and it's quite a breathtaking blend of blood, bodies, and the hard white floor of the baths.

Whether or not these films are consciously communicating a relevant statement about man and his place in a post-9/11 world, it is clear that they do speak about the body, the necessity of survival, and good versus evil. It's difficult living in this world, but surviving for some is even more difficult. The paradox of man has shifted into something a little more self-reflective and it questions whether or not that ravenous violent bone in the body is natural or learned. Bourne and Nikolai are both products of brainwashing for a group they are hired to protect and serve, but they are also ashamed of their violent streaks. It's their eternal conflict, where their natural self competes with their nurtured self. Violence is a sickness and a love for them. However the greatest and perhaps most disturbing sickness is our love to watch it and enjoy it. But then again that's the beautiful and ugly inside of us all that is at once turned off by it and more importantly joyfully turned on by it.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

cover up

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, GQ has posted a sizable collection of their iconic covers that have shaped what we define as the sartorial inclined man over the past half century. Above are some of my favorites (the 60s, duh.), but click here for more.

Friday, September 21, 2007

first look: southland tales

"Southland Tales"
dir., Richard Kelly

I can't tell if this is a true mess as it was received at Cannes last year, or if this is a fiercely personal condemnation of contemporary American culture. If anything we are treated to a possible career resurgence by the wonderful Cheri Oteri.

If that doesn't tickle your fancy, here is one of my favorite scenes from Kelly's debut conundrum of a film, "Donnie Darko":

There are a lot of things going on in this scene, (character introductions, wide angle lens, 80s references left and right, Drew Barrymore looking pissed) but it's somehow a perfect amalgamation of pop genius at work.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

new york cares

The fashion world has moved on to London, but I think it's been decided that the blogs will skip it in favor of our anticipation for the big mama and papa show that is Milan and Paris. As a form of closure of New York, I will say that it was exciting to look at as many collections as possible but there were only a handful that stood out and had something really captivating and relevant to say. For me the show of the week that didn't have to rely on tricks, gimmicks, or front row celebrities (save for one truly smoldering Academy Award winner), was without a doubt the clean and confident beauty of Narciso Rodriguez. His design philosophy of functionality and utilitarianism is necessary in a world where we eat, sleep, work, and breath in a bubble that has become increasingly more commanding in its technology, economy, and geo-politics. We need clothes that will adapt with us in all of these cultural circumstances and his clothes have a very modern, no bullshit perspective that will take us anywhere we need to go.

This collection was a startlingly different one for Rodriguez as he showed us new colors, new shapes, and new lines that we haven't seen from him before. With a recent investment from Liz Claiborne and inspiration ranging from ninjas, architect Santiago Calatrava, and a subtle take on transparency, this collection felt full of new life, spirit, and emotion. It's all in the details for Rodriguez when you get closer to see beaded bursts of optimism in the form of tie dyed flowers on the sleeve of a suit jacket or dancing freely on a white dress. The way a collar drops or a shirt is constructed. The seaming and construction are undeniable when you look at all the folds, structure, and heights that he's offering us. The menswear was the strongest he's ever shown with impeccably cut suits that are striking in their natural shoulders, nipped waits, and slim fit.

There is no way you can understand the deft combination of the structure/loose aesthetic that Narciso does so well via pictures. These are clothes that demand movement and as we may soon become nomadic creatures due to the environment, the influx of immigration, and poor leadership in our nation's office, we might need clothes that carry with us and if they are as pure, contemporary, and cool as the collection Rodriguez sent out, I would be more than obliged to wear them.

And with that here is the best spring collection New York had to offer:

The other two standout shows were Marc Jacobs's sex comedy and Preen's soft looseness. Both of these collections had a definite point of view and created something new with their less is more approach (less clothes and more underwear at Marc Jacobs and less structured hardness and more cleavage and exposed skin at Preen) as their central theme. It appeared as if in both shows that the clothes were falling off the models, and I liked that. When the weather warms up, loose clothes are essential, but both of these collections posed the question, what's going on underneath it all?

For menswear I loved Marc by Marc Jacobs, Rag & Bone, and Tony Melillo. Each were youthful, masculine, and wearable, which is what I want out of clothes. They expanded on traditional ideas like shorts, Safari jackets, and scarves. Unwavering in what they had to say, these are the clothes that seem spot-on for next season.

And remember, Milan is only a week away.

videos, duh.

The Go! Team
"Doing It Right"
dir., Good Times

"No I In Threesome"
dir., Patrick Daughters

"Paper Planes"
Live on The Late Show with David Letterman


Monday, September 17, 2007

calvin klein

As an antidote to the frill and costumey embellishments that permeate throughout many collections in New York, it's refreshing to see something so pure and reduced of excess. When you take away everything and leave very little, what are you left with? I would say something a little more uncompromising and precise. For that you can assuredly turn to Franciso Costa of Calvin Klein and his long, languid shapes for spring. This was a collection about the beauty of movement and looseness but in a minimalist controlled sense. Many of the looks had the same effect of water pouring from a glass. The curved seams that fell and cascaded around the model's bodies, the similarities between the look of silk and water, and the long, straight hair that looked as free flowing and still as a body of water concluded into something very contemporary and spot-on for the season. Lithe halter dresses, high-waisted trousers that moved with the body, and slinky t-shirt dresses gave the show a singularity and a variety of looks that didn't exist on any other runway. It's feminine and refined, but fluid in its specificity. The color palette gradated from snowy whites (ironic for spring, right?), pale cements, flesh, and shades of lettuce and steely blues. Costa's minimalism isn't a hard edge version, but a slight sensuality that is as attractive and simple as those sexy little slip dresses.

Bitch, Please on:
Marc by Marc Jacobs

marc jacobs

Have you ever wondered what must like be to in the mind of the wildly transgressive mind of Marc Jacobs? Judging by his spring collection, it percolates with a feverish intensity for the ironic, bizarre, and mundane but most importantly, tinged with a smack of sex. The two hour wait that will surely gain infamy for years to come was the foreplay that lead to a unique climax of deconstruction, revision, and interpretation. It was a bold move after the sublime 70s French Vogue/"The Conformist" show from last season. Millinery that payed homage to Elizabeth Taylor, slashed seams, innovative shoes that scream pleasure/pain, video projections of the models in their undergarments, and the show in complete reversal. The sum of the shows parts added up to a complicated and broad end that as all good art should, provokes us to think in a new direction and push us along for the fantastical ride. But what does it all mean?

The past few years Mr. Jacobs has become increasingly a provocateur of American ideas and traditions in the form of performance presentations. (past shows have included the University of Penn marching band, lawn inspired runways, and homages to himself) As his brush stroke has grow into something more dense and probing, the canvas becomes just as grand to reveal his narrative for the season. For spring a Marc Jacobs woman is dashing into her cab after a night of joyful sex. The proper dose of skin, the high slits, and unusual layering and draping look as if a woman has reassembled her clothes into a surreal cocktail of exposed primness. The whirl of the night remembered was the spirit of the show. The mood was also extremely post-coital and I get the impression Mr. Jacobs wants us to not just see sexy clothes but think about these sexy clothes. These are clothes that will stay with us, much in the same regard as memorable and rewarding sex. The memory may fade or confuse over time but the mussed hair, the ripped clothes, and the panties (those panties!) will always linger. Mr. Jacobs referenced Elizabeth Taylor's raw sensuality in the slip dressing from "Butterfield 8", but made it extremely modern and avant garde. This isn't your traditional take on sportswear. It's a little dirtier and appropriate for a cab ride home when the hem of a skirt is the source of constant fidgeting and the zipper on a dress doesn't want to comply. It's activewear and luxury in a new context. It's also a very personal statement as we have the privilege of visiting Mr. Jacob's wicked wet dream that leaves us feeling as if this might be one of his most personal collections, which in essence is as revealing as seeing Mr. Jacobs himself in his underwear.

The right amount of indulgence, spectacle, thought, and execution established this as one of the strongest shows of the week. However, I do pose the question, are such antics only acceptable because it's American fashion's leading enfant terrible? Jacobs can keep us waiting for whatever mood he's in for the season because as we learned from his show, the payoff is always a little quirky, a little awkward, and a lot sexy.

And for your viewing pleasure because so much of this show is about its stunning visual communication:

Bitch, Please on:
Anna Sui

Gold Digger on:
Marc Jacobs post-show fallout gossip

Saturday, September 15, 2007

first look: funny games

"Funny Games"
dir., Michael Haneke

A Cronenberg and Haneke film in the same year? Damn, Naomi.

Friday, September 14, 2007

g.o.o.d. l.i.f.e.

"Good Life"
Kanye West feat. T-Pain
dir., Jonas & François with animation by So Me

Will this be the video that finally wins Mr. West his precious Moon Man? After the meltdown at the MTV Video Music Awards and his ensuing comments about the show, all signs point to probably not. If anything, it's fun to watch and reminds us once again of the awesomeness that is J.U.S.T.I.C.E..

P.S., I've been working a bunch but I still have quite a bit to say about some of the collections from New York Fashion Week. Hold on tight and fashion talk with resume before you know it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

first look: atonement

dir., Joe Wright

With an overcrowded summer at the multiplexes, fall doesn't look short on must see films either. Kiera Knightley has been drawing some of the best reviews of her still growing career with The BBC describing her performance as "sterling" and grounds the film's raw power. James McAvoy is also receiving strong notices for which I have no doubts because of my recent discovery of his refreshing charm in "The Last King of Scotland", a film that he was unjustifiably overlooked for such an unshowy, convincing performance.

thom browne

What would fashion be without a little bit of fantasy? Thom Browne has a recognizable silhouette that's narrow, short, and something Tony Curtis would have worn in "Sweet Smell of Success." It's nostalgic, modern, and oddly romantic. His recent collaboration with Brooks Brothers would lead one to believe that maybe he has softened his typical display of completely unwearable almost couture like pieces that he masterfully crafts for his idiosyncratic shows. His focus is not only executing his aesthetic vision but giving the clothes a weight and statement that makes them more than rehashed looks from days gone by. For spring the puzzling details were there and the message was no less potent than in past seasons.

Using activewear (swimwear, tennis whites) as his starting point Browne pushed his audiences to think about what it means to be American in the world right now, or if it's even possible due to its vague and ever-changing definition. The activewear and other traditional pieces were shredded, shortened, tied behind models backs, or shrouded in rosettes. What does it all mean? Living in a country under the "leadership" of bullish, wannabe alpha male who is often characterized as weak, indecisive, and without direction (stereotypical adjectives we unfortunately associate with women) could be a good start as it has set a new precedent for neo-models of masculinity and its connection to power, prestige, and privilege. Ideas of traditional maleness are antiquated because of the incompetence of our dearly beloved Mr. Bush, hence the irreverent and subversive use of red, white, and blue Americana schmaltz that was found in almost every look. Browne was also smart enough to realize that fashion is a perfect platform for his political message because the very idea of fashion being something accessible, attractive, and alluring for men is an instant demerit of their supposed masculinity.

There were wearable pieces such as the trench coat with epaulettes, a neat black-and-white raincoat, and those great diagonally striped polos. It's easy to dismiss what Browne's adventuresome, frothy confections because you have to really look at what his clothes mean because he is one of the few menswear designers with a specific point of view that dares to exploring new territories of presentation and using it as a forum for ideas, concepts, and much needed discourse. With a collection like this, silence is not an option.

Bitch, Please on:
Marc Jacobs

Gold Digger on:
Nicholai by Nicky Hilton
3.1 Phillip Lim, pt. 2

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

proenza schouler

If it weren't for the sky high minis, one would think the Proenza Schouler spring show was actually intended for fall. The return of the body conscious shape, a neutral color palette, and feathers are big for fall and made their way into what Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough have in store for next season. It was a notably hard show with aggressively short hems and cinched waists, but there was a lightness to the edge that made it something quite different from what everyone else showed this season. Although their trademark bustier didn't make an appearance this season, there was a feminine structure that accentuated the waistline and gave the models a fuller looking shape. The shoulders were strong and the legs kept bare to speak for themselves. It was a total look. Light cotton puffs were tucked under double layered vests and blazers with short-sleeves worn over long-sleeved tops. Mustard, gold, khaki, and black dominated the collection and continued the trend of Fall colors but shown in weightless, breathable fabrics that are more appropriate for the season. The only elements of the show that kept it from being truly great where the lackluster sunglasses, silly hats, and pantless presentation that would have given the show depth and range. However, those gold feathered pieces at the end were standout in their meticulous precision that makes you think the Prozena Schouler woman is an elegant warrior in all of her gold-dipped glory.

Bitch, Please on:

Gold Digger on:

john varvatos

The past few ad campaigns for John Varvatos have featured Alice Cooper, Chris Cornell, and Iggy Pop. Could it be that he has semi-good taste in music or maybe as a designer he touches on the idea of the tension that exists between young and old or cultural movements that fully realized themselves and those eclipsed and co-opted by mainstream culture? Cornell was crucial in the grunge movement in the early 90s, Pop profound in the punk era of the late 70s, and Cooper a consummate showman during Glam Rock in the mid 70s. But now these men are a little older, a little gray around the edges, but nonetheless committed to their edgy attitude and rocker aesthetic. You could say the same for Varvatos's clothes. They are definitely grown-up looking clothes but fit for any young punk or rebel rouser in his later years, and that is one of the many strengths and appealing aspects of his label. For Spring, the neutral trend that we've seen the past week of shades of smoky grays and tamed nut browns continued but were presented in a way that is wholly Varvatos. Suits were trim and paired with striped t-shirts for a casually rakish look. (the shawl collared look above is a prime example) Jackets were also in order in cropped trench form or short, zippered pieces that were usually punctuated with a linen scarf. All of it was fine and dandy, even in the colors were too muted and drained for Spring, but it was his secondary line, John Varvatos U.S.A., that was ultimately a more convincing argument for a sporty version of Spring. Lightweight hoodies, shots of red, and vests worn with shorts were nice, if not a little too derivative. A dramatic parka did speak a little louder than the rest of the pieces, showing us he does have the promise of something a bit bold like his idols.

A billowy parka
A simple black cardigan
A wispy scarf with a plaid coat

Bitch, Please on:

tony melillo

Tony Melillo, I have no idea who you are but I must say that I am somewhat impressed with what you had to offer in your spring collection. Yes, it was redundant in spots and stuck mostly to a cement and ash color palette, but the ideas were there. The Bermuda shorts and cardigan combination is something I would wear without a thought but adding a drapey, cowl looking scarf does separate the followers from the adventurous. It's a great tension between structure and looseness that implies depth and thought in the design. A moody youth vibe cast a pall over the show with a slightly subversive treatment of traditional dressing. Ties were non-existent and most shirts were half tucked in and completely unbuttoned. This rebellion is alluring in its conceit in that it reminded me of my middle school days when we were forced to conform to belts and tucking in our offensive shirt tails. I especially like the loose tailoring of your one button, single-breasted short shut that minus the shorts would look very unique in my closet. Subtlety is key in this collection and when you make clothes as easy, comfortable looking, and youthful, why complain about the sobering simplicity that would otherwise be dull in any other collection?

White cardigan
Gray flat front trousers
An effortless pairing of an oxford over a zip front hoodie.

Bitch, Please on:
Baby Phat

ralph lauren

It was a day at the races for the 40th anniversary show at Ralph Lauren. A true iconic testament to everything American sportswear, Lauren has shaped our desire to have the right clothes for a weekend in Aspen or a black tie event on Park Avenue. It's a very specific look that has been consistent and influential not only in how we dress but it's evolved into a lifestyle brand, solidifying Lauren as purveyor of American thoroughbred chic. This collection, presented for the titans of New York (Sarah Jessica, Mayor Bloomberg, Martha Stewart, DeNiro, etc.), wasn't so much a retrospective of what he's good at but a dynamic expression of taste, tailoring, and proving that although his brand is almost a half century old, he's still as relevant and interesting to watch. His inspiration may have been New York and "My Fair Lady", but maybe because of my Kentucky roots, there was something deliciously Southern, and specifically Derbyfied about the show. A strong equestrian influence touched almost every look ranging from the crisp riding jodhpurs, dresses draped in what appeared to be jockey silks, riding crops as an unexpected accessory, and a cacophony of splendid head attire fit for just the right Derby extravaganza. His women expertly straddled the line between Southern deb and English prepster in sculpted blazers in black and white and silk blouses in various candy colors. The mix of the white and black, floral print, and evening sections of jewel tones worked in crafty harmony. Although many of the looks picked up on the masculine/feminine approach, each look highlighted the best parts of a woman's body--shoulders, arms, waist, and the neck. It was also a very ladylike presentation with gloves, hats, pearls, and bags in abundance. We've seen him do all this before but this time it's better and there's a reflection in his statement. Where would American women be without their favorite Polo sweater resting on their shoulders or the sophisticated evening gown begging for a gasp upon entering a room? Young designers should take note of Lauren's power and prowess in American fashion. He is the definition of someone who loves innovation, the body, and what it means to be and look American.

The best bermudas I've seen all week
The beaded evening gown
A short suit perfect for spring
A modern but romantic LBD

Gold Digger on:
Carolina Herrera

Monday, September 10, 2007

3.1 phillip lim

If there is anyone with more eyes on him this week it's Phillip Lim. No, he doesn't have the financial backing of a major conglomerate and no he's not rebounding from a miserable season past, the focus on Lim and his brand, 3.1 Phillip Lim, is whether he continue his quick ascension to the top that he has forged so effortlessly and surprisingly in such a short amount of time. His pieces are untraditional takes on traditional pieces. A refreshing color or unique detail will separate him from his contemporaries and most importantly, earn him a audience that comes back for more, especially when you price the collection at a somewhat reasonable price point. (pieces often range from around $100 and up) His covetable pieces are known for selling out before the end of the season and exude a quiet, modern, simplicity that's never over reaching. For his spring collection you could tell the pressure was on and for the most part he delivered. It's a sandal season for Lim and that was one of the initial problems I had with the show. Perhaps it's because Birkenstocks are a crime of nature to me and I have no interest in sandals except for toiling around the house or at the beach, but sandals were everywhere in the collection. The idea of pairing funky sandals that fastened at the ankle was somewhat acceptable on women, but a misstep for men. The details were there in a minidress with a graphic texture over the bust and stone pendants dangling from the neck (the oatmeal color was a little off), a citrus knee length dress adorned with a strands of metallic ropes at the clavicle, or belts on evening dresses. The fringe accents on some pieces were also off track but when he got it he did with an "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" worthy blue minidress and yellow coat or a gold mini with control that was a welcomed respite to the volume in the other dresses. The mens collection was strong as ever with my favorite being the dark shorts with a double-breasted jacket or a Coca Cola can-red trench that continues the trend this week of primary colors used in traditional outwear. The pale gold sweater with a tiny white bow protruding from the collar was something I haven't seen and when paired with the simple flat front short it's less costumey and cutesy. The collection used primary colors quite a bit and smartly paired them against muted khakis and other earth tones. Does it all culminate to a success? It depends on who you ask I suppose, but in my mind I wanted more from Lim. It did drum up memories of "Sesame Street" (maybe it's all of those colors) and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (look at how the models wear their hats and look at how Gene Wilder wore his in the film), but maybe that isn't such a bad thing. I do, however, like my a clothes just a little more grown-up.

Gold Digger on:
Preen vs. Peter Som

Bitch, Please on:
Sue Stemp

first look: the assassination of jesse james by the coward robert ford

"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
dir., Andrew Dominik

What a lush and unusual looking western. I see traces of "The Talented Mr. Ripley", "McCabe & Mrs. Miller", and "Days of Heaven." Mr. Pitt won the best actor prize at the Venice Film festival this weekend for what Todd McCarthy of Variety calls a "layered, continually interesting performance." The western is not my usual cinematic cup of tea, but I might give this one a try.

band of outsiders

A nautical theme is a touchstone for many spring presentations and Band of Outsiders took it to the sea, literally, for their collection. Known for their slim ties, fitted oxfords, and kooky blog, they have become the go to brand for modern, youthful refinement with a sense of humor but history and appreciation of American sportswear. The boat shoes paired with tuxedos, little boy blazers, and straw fedoras on the sprite like models suggested a nostalgia in the concept, perhaps a little boy playing dress up on his chic father's yacht. Gray, navy, stripes, and layered collars are the sartorial epitome of WASPy pomp and circumstance. It works and it doesn't. The oxfords and vests on the women excel at the femme meets masculine style of dressing and the light, striped cabana shirts are fun and ideal for the type of activity the clothes call for. (the cast of "The Talented Mr. Ripley" lounging on a boat in the Mediterranean comes to mind) Clothes this easy and speak of such an effortless tony and masculine style shouldn't be dressed up and overwhelmed by models as mannequins staged on a boat. Giving them a charming context is a great idea but why bother when the clothes are so good they speak for themselves? (see also Trovata)

Femme tuxedo
A well styled get up necessary for a night entertaining on a yacht
Pink and gray on brown skin always work

Bitch, Please on:
Vena Cava

models, inc.

Where has my dear Hilary been? She has been absent from the shows this week. Can we cross our fingers for an appearance at Milan and Paris?

Also M.I.A.: Doutzen Kroes, Gemma Ward, and Daria Werbowy

What do we think of Freja Beha Erichsen's new cut?

At Rag & Bone

Chanel Iman is blowing up. This is only her second season in New York and she has been in over a dozen shows. When you have a name like that I guess you are made for fashion.
At Ralph Lauren

photos courtesy of the fashion spot and

narciso rodriguez

Narciso Rodriguez's "ninjas" descended upon the runway this weekend in what is surely one of the best shows of the week. His minimalist palette is consistent every season with an almost compulsive love for tailoring and fit. His clothes are linear and architectural in their detailing which leads to the effect of fabric covering the body almost like a modern sculpture. His theme this season of kimono dressing could have been gimmicky, but the subtle nipped waists and loose and crisp looks that Rodriguez envisioned were anything but a cartoon. These are clothes made for the consumer looking for statement clothes that fall and accentuate the body in a way that the other top tier American designers can never seem to touch. The lengths and proportions are appropriate for when the weather melts away the icy winter and ushers in the warm and cool days and evenings of spring. Most dresses hit around the knee and looked loose but with shape that could flatter almost any body type. A shot of burnt pumpkin mixed in with periwinkle, black, and white all seemed fresh and something we haven't seen this week, and if we have, who cares? The tailoring on jackets and zippered coats gave the weightless fabrics a precise center, anchoring them on the body in a sensual way that only Rodriguez is capable of realizing. Shirt dresses and tapered pants are practical for the office but the collection was complete in shimmery minidresses and belted pieces that feel just right for evening. His menswear collection was no slouch either with the most lean and sinewy suits one could ask for. The razor sharp tailoring in the menswear gave us the essential white shirt, a short sleeved suit that actually seemed wearable, and jackets with a controlled volumed. Strong, sexy, and grown-up, this is what I want from clothes. A personality exists in the clothes but they are malleable to the most important part of fashion, the body.

Coazt dress with a dangerous front zipper and belted with a contemporary take on an obi
Androgyny at its finest
The perfect macintosh for a rainy day
The black suit
White shorts

Bitch, Please on:
Behnaz Sarafpour
Rachel Roy


Don't the let the recent departure of the three founding members of Trovata allow you to think that the over the top presentations would be a thing of the past. John Whitledge, the sole designer left to carry the brand staged quite the spectacle to unveil the spring collection. Inspired by his Brazilian girlfriend (a source of inspiration you probably will not hear the rest of the week), Whitledge conjured up a dream of breezy nights on the beach with the perfect linen scarf and the ideal stripped top. The clothes were simple and a continuation of the preppy meets surfer duded that Trovata does so well. Chartreuse, white, and navy were on the color agenda, mostly in solids or stripes. The clothes, as a whole, were inoffensive and so wearable that you wonder if any punch exists in them enough to invest pieces you probably already own and like (stripped tops, linen shorts, and sweater vests). Every season I think of Trovata as being everything J. Crew wishes it could be (the chic faux WASP) but without the taint of its availability in malls and bargain outlets. The clothes aren't boring but if they weren't presented with such gusto and showmanship you'd get that nagging feeling about it being two steps away from belonging at Mall of America. This season was no exception with a skinny jeanned Perry Farell, exotic Brazilian dancers, and other finery giving the clothes some drama to absorb. It's a wonder Whitledge decided to invest in such a show for a collection consisting of less than ten looks. Granted, Trovata has made puzzling but fun performances pieces their mainstay (past collections include a an homage to all things Alpine, faux European journalists sporting the latest pieces from the collection while toting an oddly calm cat, and what looked like the home of Royal Tenenbaum) but what do the clothes say if anything when they're competing with the eye candy that envelops it so often? Remove the clothes from a a man and you can see what you got, but when you remove the theatrics of a show to reveal the clothes perhaps something more revealing than a naked body can be seen.

Linen scarf
Two toned cardigan

duckie brown

Menswear can typically be so conservative and--gasp!--boring, but when designers play with shape, color, and proportion that's when things get interesting and menswear earns some much needed weight. There are only so many ways that one can play with a shirt or a pair of pants, but it's difficult to resist the way Steven Cox and Daniel Silver attempt to progress the idea of "menswear" into an arena where sherbet hued wide leg pants and over sized floral print tops make sense. The pops of raspberry, school bus yellow, and gold imbued the collection with an optimism that's attractive in its ideas but not entirely appealing in its wearability. There was something comforting about their expansive hoodie (also fetching in their Fall 07 collection) and their beautifully youthful jackets that when paired with voluminous pants hints at something more daring than your average jacket and pants combination, but the florals and old man socks with shorts combination could have been left to the wayside. Layering was also key in the collection from longer shirts paired under shorter jackets or a shimmery gold sweatshirt over a white t-shirt. There was also an emphasis on the long jacket with shorts look that is so hard to pull off but per their insistence of the look it could be given a second try come spring. It's going to be a bold season in the world of Duckie Brown.

Short double-breasted jacket paired with long t-shirt and baggy shorts
The perfectly tailored leather jacket
Three piece suit minus the tie that is just right

Bitch, Please on:
Alexander Wang
Badgley Mischka
Nicole Miller
BCBG Max Azria

Gold Digger on:
Diane Von Furstenberg
Band of Outsiders
Catherine Malandrino
Vera Wang

Sunday, September 9, 2007

trend alert: who wears short shorts?

Michael Bastian

Thom Browne


I hope this doesn't mean the Gap will be offering hot pants in the mens section next spring.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

rag & bone

It's back to Africa according to David Neville and Marcus Wainwright of Rag & Bone. Their usual flair for impressive tailoring and urban outfitting was given a dash of safari for spring. This wasn't your Banana Republic take on safari but rather a mod, mid 60s affair that would befit an evening of cocktails in the jungle with Dean Martin. Khaki and cream dominated the collection with strokes of jet black for proper punctuation. The clothes were utilitarian in their approach but very handsome and clean in their execution. Windbreakers worn with just the right short or a short sleeve button down fashioned as a pajama top complemented the tried and true structured suits and vests Rag & Bone are so good at. Although the menswear was strong and a slight progression for the label, it was the women's collection that faltered. You wanted to love it because it was Liya, Isabeli, and Angela at their sexiest, but even the 60s Bond Girl hair and overly simple smock dresses couldn't save their forecast for what women want for spring. The styling was off with either ill-fitting frocks or distracting headscarves. A pair of white tuxedo pants paired with a shrunken pajama top was one of the few standouts but you hope that eventually the ease and practical vision Rag & Bone has for men will translate to their womenswear. After all, 007 is nothing without just the right girl, right?

Gold Digger on:
Erin Fetherston
Sari Gueron

Friday, September 7, 2007

new york, new york explained

Americana in shreds at Thom Browne Spring/Summer 2008

This month The Look-See will join forces with Bitch, Please and Gold Digger to analyze, fawn over, and examine the best, the boldest, and the fug that fashion has to offer for next season during New York, Milan, and Paris fashion weeks. Fashion has never seemed so present in our culture with trendy shops like Forever 21 and H&M ruling the collective style consciousness of young America, the blogosphere becoming the new tastemakers, and more media attention on what's in and what's out when it comes to fashion. We may not be sitting front row but our eyes our peeled and our sartorial sense is finely tuned. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

first look: control

dir., Anton Corbijn

Joy Division + Samantha Morton + Anton Corbijn = YES, PLEASE!

you can't tell me nothing

Kanye West at the British GQ Awards

I would never match my sunglasses with my belt, but it's really the jacket, the shades of gray and the one pop of color he should have stuck with, the azure colored belt, that stand out. Further proof that gray is the color for fall.

the woman

Couldn't you just stare at that body for hours?

When her authoritative figure isn't commanding your eyes, I suggest you pick up the latest issue of Interview magazine. Monica Bellucci and Tim Blanks engage in idle chit chat peppered with great gobs of intelligence and perspective from one of the rare and truly international beacons of sex and celluloid luminescence.

An excerpt:
Tim Blanks: I'm curious as to why you once said that being an actress is a sublimation of femininity.
Monica Bellucci: I think it's easier to be an actress than an actor. I think that acting goes with femininity in some ways. Women are natural actresses. As Richard Burton once said, "An actor is something less than a man, while an actress is something more of a woman."
TB: I actually think men tend to be so narcissistic that acting comes quite naturally to them, whereas women are much more who they are. I think men perform and women are.
MB: That's why it's natural for a woman to become an actress. If she just pushes a bit, she's there. (laughs)

She's Italian, she quotes Richard Burton, and she's got that body. Now that's what I call a real woman.

the man

There is no other working male contemporary actor quite like Clive Owen. The dark gaze, the mysterious intensity, the grown-up subtedly are all there. His latest film, the frenetic action triller "Shoot 'Em Up", looks completely ridiculous but I'm sure as in all of his performances, there is something there to watch that will be utterly and completely compelling. Caryn James's recent profile on Owen doesn't reveal entirely new information about the actor, but perhaps that's the point. Spoiling his hidden and muted style would definitely burn out his star quality that usually tears through the screen. He knows it's all in his eyes and it's our privilege as his enraptured audience to look into them and see something alluring, honest, and captivating.

photo courtesy of

"Shoot 'Em Up"
dir., Michael Davis

Choice Clive Owen moments (among many):

"Children of Men"
dir., Alfonso Cuaron

dir., Mike Nichols

"The Follow"
from the BMW Film Series, "The Hire"
dir., Wong Kar Wai

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

le gallo rosso

Tucked behind The Butterfly Garden Cafe and just behind the alley of The Bristol, a true dining secret can be discovered. Le Gallo Rosso's location may seem inconvenient or easily missed in the Highlands dining scene, but the location adds to its unique and sumptuous quality. Brightly colored laterns hang from vine covered walls in the entrance, encapsulating you in a cove of benevolent Italian bistro cuisine. The stucco walls are washed in a salmon color mixed with veritable rooster accents lending itself to a comfortable and homey decor. Patrons are allowed to bring their own wine (free of corkage fees), making any guest feel as though they are truly at a gathering for a good meal and festive evening. The restaurant is small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in sheer savory delight on their brief but perfectly edited dinner menu.

Every entree comes included with salad and freshly baked bread, a rare find in the neighborhood. The salad comes wrapped in a beautiful bouquet of fresh mixed greens, pine nuts, and gorgonzola cheese that unravels perfectly on the plate from the ribbon of cucumber. It's just enough salad to satisfy your initial hunger but also enough to complement and hold over your appetite for the main course.

The House Salad with a sweet but tart Balsamic Vinaigrette

My party of eight selected everything from their gargantuan lasagna infused with layers of pasta; ground pork; veal; fresh tomato sauce; and cheeses, their wild mushroom and truffle oil alfredo, traditional spaghetti and meatballs (the size of softballs) and a ravioli special that was beyond perfect.
Lasagna, $13.95

Wild Mushroom Alfredo, $13.95
I chose the chicken entree that was cooked in a white wine, sun dried tomato, and artichoke sauce served with risotto and green beans. The flavors were well worth not ordering a traditional pasta dish.
Chicken Entree, $15.95

Dinner concluded with some of the best tiramisu ($5.95) I've ever had. The portions in general were large but it wasn't obnoxious, more so exciting that in the morning leftovers would be the real treat from the previous evening. Everyone was satisfied with their meals as well as the friendly and warm service. As we left wafting in the utter delight that was our dining experience, the charm and well-executed service and food begged for another visit. With food like that the temptation will not be difficult to resist.

Le Gallo Rosso
1325 Bardstown Rd.
Louisville, Ky

conventional and unconventional at the same time

If only Miss J. were there giving the prospective models some much needed walking tips.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

it's britney, bitch.

Britney Spears, "Gimme More"

Who would have thought the bubblegum pin-up of the late 90s would have evolved into a cultural whipping post for all things wrong and evil in the world? Britney Spears managed to shock and entice us with her Lolita brand of pop sexuality, but now with two kids, twice divorced and her cooter available to all via the easiest Google image search, where does she stand amongst the new female titans of pop (Fergie, Gwen, Nelly, Beyonce)? Her contemporaries morphed into would be movie stars (sorry Mandy), sexpots not quite in on the joke (yes, that would be you Jessica), and wait--relevant, multi-platinum selling, genre-defying superstars (thank you, X-Tina), therefore this would seem somewhat of an opportune time to jump back into the game and prove to the world that you were once the leader of the pack. Granted, her sound is not entirely discernible (breathy come ons and slick production?), but throughout her career she has contributed some of the most perfectly odd-sounding and catchy pop/dance music, namely "Slave 4 U" and "Toxic." Unfortunately, with her current fall from pop grace (the shaved head, the crotch flashing, the K-Fed, the baby bottles filled with Coca-Cola) it's so much more difficult to not be distracted by her wild public life when she do desperately wants to turn attention to her "craft." Word of a comeback album has been in the works for a while and if there is anyone who could resurrect her career it is super producer Nate "Danjahandz" Hills, who co-producer such pop gems as "Promiscuous" and "My Love." This song could have easily been produced for any r&b honey or pop princess but that trademark Spears come-hither pulse in her voice is there and makes this song not entirely forgettable or regrettable, on her part. It's catchy and will probably be a hit on the radio, and in a way reminds us of a Britney from days gone by. This isn't retread but she is in no way pushing popular music forward at any stretch of the imagination. My suggestion to Ms. Spears is although she seems to have found the right sound to woo our hunger for decent pop music, it's the public's interest, or disinterest at this point, that she will have to woo over. The veil of mystery has been lifted a little bit on Ms. Spears as of late, so here's hoping she has a few secrets left in her and her life of meltdowns, rehab, and bad wigs are things of the past.

spring forward

Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos, formerly of Trovata, have started their new label that is less preppy surfer and more contemporary urbanite. Naturally, I'm anticipating the arrival of their new spring line that is previewed on Although it's intended for next season, some of the pieces would fit comfortably into a fall wardrobe. The white cardigan, the dark denim, and the thin sweater vest seem very right now but also indicate this is a debut to watch.

For more click here.