Tuesday, September 30, 2008

milan: jil sander

Jil Sander
Spring/Summer 2009

This is the best quality I could find of this show and trust me, the clearer the image for this show you'll have a greater understanding as to why it's one of the best of the season. The fringing that controls the movement of the body, the sick jewelery, and the sensual surprise of exposed backs all adds up to fashion at its finest.

when it all falls down

Spring/Summer 2009

This may be the evil sadist in me, but isn't this kind of fun to watch what with the world going to shit?

can't get you out of my head

Three moments that made me powerless to this pop/r&b/dance jam from 1986:
1. Shows up somewhere in between Missy Elliott and Public Enemy on "No Pause" by Girl Talk
2. Shows up in vinyl form at a street vendor I passed the other week on Sixth Ave near the IFC Center
3. Shows up in a scene from Garth Jennings's "Son of Rambow"

I can't escape it!

Monday, September 29, 2008

must listen: beck, "modern guilt"

"Gamma Rays"

Dear Beck,
Why did I doubt you on the brilliance that is your new album, "Modern Guilt"? I think it's awesome that you're one of the few pop culture relics from the 90's still persisting and remaining relevant in the new century. Your last tour was a mind-altering experience with all of the puppetry and utensil playing during "Clap Hands." The moody sixties vibe on this new album sounds so lush and melancholic, and yet hypnotic and fun. Upon finally listening to it from start to finish today, I must say it's one of your finer works and one of the best albums of the year. I'll never waver again. Promise.

Fan for life,

Saturday, September 27, 2008

in memoriam: paul newman

directed by Martin Ritt

One of the last of the greats...

Monday, September 15, 2008

the face

Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Lakshmi Menon. You may not be entirely familiar with her, but she opened the Givenchy couture show this summer, booked the fall ready-to-wear campaign shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, and blew up the runway this past week at her first New York Fashion Week popping up at Peter Som, Alexander Wang, Michael Kors, Richard Chai, Diane Von Furstenberg, Derek Lam, Zac Posen, and several others. Things to know about Menon: She's from Bangalore, India, she's 27 (which makes her recent success story much more interesting in comparison to the 15-year-olds currently ruling the runways), and she's not a dummy about the politics of fashion. Oh, and she's incredibly sexy.

can i get just one more?

"The Man in The Bushses"
Photos by Ron Galella
New York Magazine

Artful paparrazi shots? What will they think of next?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

first look: the international

"The International"
directed by Tom Tykwer
February 13, 2009

Clive Owen battling evil corporate forces? Check.
Naomi Watts along for the ride? Check.

Does a movie need anything else?

last of the followers

Okay, okay, I get it now. It's everything they say it is.

new york: calvin klein

Calvin Klein Spring/Summer 2009

A triumphant take on lightness in the hands of a mad Cubist or march of the Chinese takeout boxes? I can't decide, but I also can't stop thinking about this show.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

new york: narciso rodriguez

Stripes, in all their minimal contrasting glory, would appear to be territory Narciso Rodriguez would have already conquered. If he did, it couldn't possibly compare to the way in which when he broke them down and applied them in his usual sensual vocabulary for Spring/Summer 2009. I can't think of any other designer that can take such linear shapes and use them to accentuate, expose, and create curves on the female form. From the opening look on bombshell Isabeli Fontana in a black blouse with a razor sharp neckline and rounded three quarter length sleeves, it was familiar Rodriguez, but it was the skirt that thrilled in a new way. A simple pencil skirt that looked as if he took a permanent marker and etched a series of perpendicular lines was stunning in its sublime minimalism. And being the master of sensual seduction, Rodriguez didn't let up from there.

Rodriguez is a designer in the truest form of the word. He designs with shapes and colors in mind and manipulates them each season so that they remain fresh and new, although the same crisp white jacket from two season ago would work with his slim trouser on Freja Beha that looked as if a single ribbon had been wrapped around the leg of the pant. Exposed zippers were worked into the linear theme, which is becoming a bit of a trend for the New York season, and he did it down the front of elegantly austere dresses and sculptural jackets. The idea of being able to unzip a woman from the front is far naughtier and interesting than the Big Ideas that other designers drum up for their own theatrical tricks and quirks, and that's what separates from him the rest of the crop. Bandage dresses were also new for Rodriguez and looked especially sexy with one sleeve and baring just enough skin on Ali Michael. The play with lines juxtaposed with weightlessness and movement continued into beautifully light dresses with supporting harnesses on the bodice with blossoming lower halves, some bearing a nija star print. The nija star print was an odd touch but worked for a designer with such a precise eye and cut. Adhering mostly to his trusted black and white palette, there were colors such a yellow, seafoam, and a shimmering dusty rose that should resonate for next season. There's never enough to look at in a Rodriguez collection. The cutouts from one of his gorgeous evening gowns as well as the swish of movement from the skirts will have you turned on and amazed at such profound craft.

new york: marc jacobs

If there is any working American fashion designer with enough media presence, critical and commercial pressure, and acceptance amongst the fashion conscious and cognoscenti, it would be the man in a skirt on Monday night, or more simply known as the Marc Jacobs. Never one not to disappoint, incite, confuse, or enrapture, Jacobs is so clearly on a creative roll, or more accurately, a path that is so singular and surprising season after season. The trends and styles may change with each theatrical set piece, but the Jacobs verve never fades. His eye for the beauty in the ugly, subversive cultures, and appreciation of the tension between history and the future, originality and pastiche, and the big grab bag of popular culture has cemented his idiosyncratic genius as one of the most thoughtful and thought provoking minds in contemporary fashion. After seasons of Bertolucci ennui, lingerie play, and '80s bathrobe coats, where oh where does Jacobs decide to take us in his wanderlust, hodge podge adventure? America The Beautiful, of course.

Don't let the recent shot of Jacobs in his underwear that accompanies his New Yorker profile lead you to believe he's someone that would be caught with his pants down. Part of Jacobs' genius is his media savvy, the way in which he skewers celebrity by being one and befriending them. He's been to rehab, he's morphed his look more than once, and his personal relationships have become under as much as attention as one of his celebrity muses. In a way Jacobs needs to play that game because when you really look at what's going on in his collection they are so densely packed with intelligent and esoteric ideas that you wonder how this enfant terrible has connected with the mainstream as much as he has. For Spring/Summer his almost avant garde take on American sportswear was another alchemic stew of references and ideas. Japanese inspired waist cinching obis, early '90s grunge plaid, Joan Crawford über-bitch, African inspired headwraps and tribal prints, Dust Bowl gatherer, George Cukor heroines, and I'm sure a host of other people, places, and things we're not, or even Jacobs for that matter, are aware of. Phew! Somehow Jacobs is able to blend all of this together into a cohesive statement about the power and resilience of American women. He's also smart enough to realize these looks should not be absorbed as a whole, there's something in every look that could turn on any woman, whether it be a mismatched prairie skirt, funky shoe, or brocade-looking jacket. This is the kind of fashion America needs and hopefully the man in the skirt can keep raising the bar.

new york: proenza schouler

The critical response to Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" was by and far largely laudatory and positive, save for a few that felt its political message was perhaps too obvious and instead rallied for the goth/deco melange of darkness Tim Burton established with his first interpretation of the Caped Crusader. Whether or not those critics are right or wrong (clearly wrong. Were they even seeing the same movie?), it did make me think about how much I loved that movie as a child, especially the leggy blondes in the film, Kim Basigner and Jerry Hall. What with all the superhero worship in film and the political world these days, Proenza Schouler's Spring/Summer collection was able to fit somewhere in that dialogue by confidently sending out a parade of jumpsuits, the new power suit and armor for the strong and sexy woman of next season.

Most forget, but Hall was in "Batman" as Jack Nicholson's hideously scarred girlfriend. Interesting thought for one of the most beautiful faces of the '70s to be disfigured on the big screen. The same thread, although not in terms of destroying beauty, informed the Proenza Schouler show where the beauty had a certain toughness, dangerous quality. Think lots of leather, zippers, pants that gave the allusion of being covered in a sheer trash bag. You do have to be quite the dame to pull off a middriff baring leather top complete with bra inset and high waisted white pants. With the models hair swept to one side and their red lips as jungle red as possible, the severity was only occasionally softened by the billowy harem pants or jumpsuits that ranged from the leather variety to the more parachute effect in floaty fabrics. Black and cream were the base palette with mint and a random purple dress, not an exciting array of colors. It was disappointing to see such an underwhelming use of color when last season their jewel tone intricately folded party dresses with contrasting tights were as exciting as anything in Paris or Milan. Jumpsuits are an acquired taste, but they have been spotted on other runways in New York, so I guess we can't blame them and their sequined version, which I could see on Liza Minelli while sharing a laugh with Halston at Studio 54 as opposed to a more contemporary and less trainwreck of a woman. Have dresses, pants, and tops becoming so boring that women need in all one in fix? The rounded shoulders on jackets and various tops also reminded me of Balenciaga last season and the exposed zipper play looked sexy on a Lanvin runway several seasons ago. I don't doubt the talent of Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, but I know they are capable of more. Perhaps the Dark Knight could save the day for fall 2009?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the stills

Photo of the Moment Series
photographs by Eric Ray Davidson
The Moment

These behind the scenes photos of various shows throughout the week are sometimes more revealing than the shows themselves. Plus with hundreds of shows over the next month perhaps these can serve as a visual summary of everything we might have missed in the brief couple of minutes that constitutes a show.

P.S. Spotted: Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue exiting Barneys at Madison and 61st. Decked out in black with a slight grin on her face (maybe she found better deals than what the men's store had to offer), you can call me impressed.

new york: michael bastian

Hell's Kitchen in early September was transformed into a East coast beach scene populated with Bret Easton Ellis anti-heroes, preppies, and dreamboat lifeguards. Anything is possible in fashion and thanks to the purveyor of contemporary prepster ware, Michael Bastian showed a succinct collection of classic American sportswear that was tailored to evoke Patrick Bateman goes to the beach for Spring/Summer 2009. The '80s is an easy reference point, especially for the proliferation of the preppy aesthetic, but Bastian's all-American revue wasn't costumey rehash, in fact it felt more like these were clothes that romantically reflected and convincingly considered the days of being wild for the 21st century man, in the Alex P. Keaton sense that is. You can't help but be taken by the New Order and Joe Jackson on the soundtrack and his love of a good short and loafer combination.

In a matter of words, Bastian's aesthetic could be described as "preppy with a twist." As vague as that sounds, Bastian has taken the Ralph Lauren brand of country club chic and infused it with an interesting balance between a European tailoring sensibility and a decidedly American sportswear bent. A beautifully cut one button blazer is paired with a pair of cut off sweats; an expressly American dichotomy for the guy who loves to dress up but in his downtime is casual and comfortable in sweats. That interplay of a polished Patrick Bateman type on top and athletic Adonis on bottom was the consistent narrative throughout the collection. A suede hooded safari jacket with cut offs not only pleased the eye but was a smart proposition for a man who needs clothes to transition from season. With the recession and the ever-unreliable environment making it difficult even for the fashionista's and fashionisto's, clothes at such lofty price points have to offer some range and transitional quality. A pair of navy corduroy shorts, a thin windbreaker, and pullovers of all varieties looked appropriate for the summer when paired with swimwear or beach ready footwear (flip flops and an immaculately tailored suit is bold, but can you blame an investment banker for wanting to run out of the office and head straight to the beach?). Clothes with a vexing psychology behind them won't be found here, and that's a compliment. Bastian's inviting display of summertime prep should gather even the most mad of men to follow in his direction.

the scene

What does one do in New York during early September? Fashion week, baby.

Spotted at Michael Bastian Spring/Summer 2009: NHL player and former Vogue intern Sean Avery, designer Peter Som, GQ Creative Director Jim Moore, Bergdof Goodman's Linda Fargo and Roopal Patel, Tim Motherfucking Blanks (awkward fan moment indeed), and Men's Vogue Amanda Brooks
Not Spotted: Rumored attendee Kanye West (Where were you Yeezy?)

Things I liked about a real fashion show: The early '80s dance soundtrack, the free flowing white wine, the deluge of the bad and the beautiful in the audience, and the free flowing white wine
Things I didn't like: The free flowing wine promptly ended at 7:30 when the show ended.
Things I was surprised to find: Michael Bastian has perfect skin. It's kind of scary how smooth his forehead is. Oh, and the Thom Browne exposed ankle with tapered pant look is very in this fall, or at least for the fashion conscious New York male.

More details and fashion week coverage ahead...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

first look: milk

directed by Gus Van Sant
November 26, 2008 (limited)

Can Van Sant be two for two this year? This trailer makes an awesome case.

the heir

"How beautiful is it to see the breast or the derrière moving on the street? We are all seduced by the blue of the sky and the red of the flower, why not the behind of a woman? It’s just a beautiful part of nature.”--Stefano Pilati, Creative Director for Yves Saint Laurent
"The Tastemaker"
Lynn Hirschberg
New York Times

It seems like designer profiles are all the rage these days. The myth of Marc Jacobs is covered to great extent in both GQ and The New Yorker. The battle of the T(h)om's made it into The Times earlier this summer and a recent piece on Michael Kors expounded on the sudden rise into rock star designer fame. The Times gets it just right again with an insightful portrait of one of the most influential minds in fashion, Stefano Pilati, the creative director for Yves Saint Laurent. You have to be someone so deeply committed to one's own vision and convictions when you send out a collection where the models were obscured with black bowl wigs, black lipstick, and nary a red carpet ready gown in sight.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

arsenic and old lace

Prada Fall/Winter 2008
Artwork by Lok Jansen and Jeroen Koolhaas

Monday, September 1, 2008

first look: brothers bloom

"Brothers Bloom"
directed by Rian Johnson
December 19, 2008 (limited)

"Rachel Weisz steals the show from romantic interest Adrien Brody and his fellow con-man, Mark Ruffalo, in 'Brothers Bloom', Rian Johnson's follow-up to his Sundance debut film, 'Brick.' The caper comedy continues Johnson's high-style reinvention of past genres. (...) It's intricately plotted light fun, in the vein of 'Two for the Road', 'The List of Adrian Messenger', 'The Sting', 'House of Games' (Ricky Jay narrates) or 'Topkapi' (Maximillian Schell has a role in 'Bloom')."--Anne Thompson, Variety

american splendor

Hilary Rhoda
photographed by Katja Rahlwes
Purple Magazine #10