Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It Aint Easy Being Green

Color Inspiration from today's NPR

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Galliano Show Ends With A Bow From the Atelier

Consider It A Coup Of The Artisans

One of the few good things that now disgraced designer John Galliano has brought to the forefront is the importance of the petites mains, the people who physically create the clothes in an atelier. They are an integral, but usually hidden, part of the fashion presentations each season. When it was decided it was they rather than he who should take a bow at the end of his Fall 2011 presentation last week it may have marked the first time in fashion that this important group of people were applauded post-show.

This is important to note since it ties in with an an emergence of an era where the artisan (as in the person who makes the object) is just as important as the designer. It also ties with foodie culture, where there has been a similar shift. Educated consumers now want closer ties to their producer in almost all areas of production. This consumer wants to consume a more individualized, ethically source object. Constantly in fashion I see the following words repeated: artisan, artisan details, family-owned and produced, hand-made. The "hands" that produce the designs are now just as important as the person who conceptualizes the project.

Some designers following suit with this model are Osborn Design , Edith E. Miller t-shirts, and Suno Clothing. These designers, among other things, are emphasizing the hand-made, and making an attempt to connect with local economies through their design work. For example, at Osborn design their mission is "to do good with design". One way they accomplish that is by teaming with local artisans in Guatemala to manufacture their shoes. To quote their website "Each shoe is signed by its maker, as a testament to the sense of pride for the maker, as well as its wearer." Osborn is stating themselves that knowing who makes their objects is obviously should be a source of pride to their end consumer. Their business model also connects the consumer with the source of their product.

Also, there is Edith E. Miller t-shirts, who makes tees from a family-owned factory in Pennsylvania, and designer Logan Neitzal who proudly hand-stitches each of the leather pieces in eponymous line himself. The line Suno has been developing an atelier in a remote area of Kenya, and working with communities in India. The examples are countless, and they mark the next wave of ambitious young designers slated to influence fashion. I also see a correlation with the continued success of Etsy, the one of the first purveyors of "handmade goods". They were one of the originals who emphasized knowing who is producing the products you buy.

Photo of shoe from Osborn Design, from Osborn Design website

Each Osborn shoe is signed by its maker. Photo from, shopping.

There is also a relationship with foodie culture. Here "artisanal" and "locally grown" have been used long before fashion began to catch on. It is a parallel movement. For proof of the connection look no further the burgeoning movement of young, small scale farmers setting up shop in Oregon. You can read more where this is chronicled in this NYTimes article. There it explains how for the first time in a generation young people picking up a hoe and choosing farming as an occupation. These people are rejecting the paradigms of factory farming and embracing the philosophies of punk-rock and Karl Marx instead. The new wave of farm production is now small scale and local, with an emphasis on knowing your producer. Farming and clothing production are not two disparate movements, but rather both enterprises emphasizing the importance of knowing your producer. It is the future of how we as Americans approach consumption.

Photo of Mary's Grange Hall, center of social life for young farmers in Oregon, picture Leah Nash for the NyTimes.

These businesses all serve as alternative models to large-scale production, and reflect the future of fashion. Who is going to replace Galliano? No one knows, but one can be sure it will continue to be the artisans in his atelier doing much of the work.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fall 2011 Shows: More Art Deco and Snakeskin Than You Can Shake A Stick At

I was entering into the fashion doldrums after viewing the Fall 2011 collections. Most of the shows left me feeling bored or utterly disinterested. Either there no new ideas (the 70's again, lots of orange, minimalism to dull effect) OR the collection was too conceptual and not wearable. I love me a good concept or two, but...this is fashion. What good is your idea if one doesn't desire to wear it? After a bit of this I clicked on Hermes, and after that my faith in the power of fashion was restored. At Hermes, look after look sauntered down the catwalk and headed straight into my imagination. Although according to the inspirations were said to be Asian, with notions of travel, long robes, jade jewelry, etc, I couldn't see anything except 20's art deco from where I was sitting. This is an era I feel is finally getting it's longstanding due in fashion this season. Favorite looks from this collection posted below. All photos in this post from

The biggest trends on runways this season were the masculine feminine mix, Asia, and snakeskin. Religious garb seems to have evolved from Celine'sminimalism, just ask Alber Elbaz at Lanvin, who referenced the priesthood in his collection, especially with his hats:

Alber Elbaz preps his models for the priesthood at Lanvin.

Ralph Lauren referenced China for his collection. He was one of many designers with references to Asia.

I loved Missoni's use of snakeskin.

Said or unsaid in the liner notes, the influence of 20's drop waist silhouettes and art deco style geometric prints, were everywhere:

Marni: No Waist, Geometric Print, don't tell me there is not a 20's influence.

Prada, of course, scored the fashion double whammy with Art Deco and snakeskin.

Versus by Versace proves it's still hip to be square

Also of interest is a return to a certain type of formality, pulled together, perfectly matched, prim and proper, suits. Maybe old lady, yes, but I love it. As far as new ideas, this old one seems as fresh to me as ideas go. Both Donna Karan with her Grace Kelly inspired collection and Jean Paul Gaultier totally seemed to understand this. I felt as if it was a reference to an old-fashioned sort of glam that I would like to see returned to fashion. How far can we take this era of casual dress, jeans and t-shirts?

It was go granny go at Jean Paul Gaultier.

And lets not forget Stella McCartney, who reinvents power dressing with her version of the masculine/feminine mix:

Stella truly gave us the bold shoulder. I love the strong but at the same time soft silhouettes she created.

All in all after show after show referencing the 1970's fashion we finally did find some fresh, new ideas in the mix. The trends I am most excited about are the snake, the geometric prints, and hints of Asia. I can't wait to see these items referenced for the market next season.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Totally Bananas For Bush

Kate Bush that is. And she totally innovated the fruit-as-fashion trend way before Prada.

I recently watched Kate Bush's "The Line, The Cross, & The Curve" and and can't get over the prescience of Kate Bush. Those of you who aren't familiar with Kate Bush's short film it is basically an extended video in which a frustrated singer dancer is enticed by Miranda Richardson's character to wear her red shoes. The shoes then take on a life of their own, and take Kate on a wild journey. There are many fashion "yes" moments through out the video, starting below with these stills that capture the mystery of the red shoes:

Excerpt from opening song Rubberband Girl below. It's very cool and 80's, I love the work out wear on Kate and the cool band in the back. Definitely play and listen to as you read the rest of my post:

Her final scene, African Dancers amongst luscious fruit, predicates the fruit-as-fashion trend seen on Spring 2011 runways. Not bad for a video Kate later called "a load of bollocks " according to Tom Doyle's 2005 article in the Guardian. Although lo-fi, I found the video to be a weird and wonderful expression for her music and love this scene. It's admittedly a bit wacky, but the colors are sensational. The mix of the graphic fruit with African textiles make for a bold visual choice. And needless to say I love the print on her dress:

And if you think you couldn't interpret this into high fashion, Prada proves you wrong:

Kate Bush is such a genius seamlessly combines dance, music, and fashion and film into a unforgettable experience and is clearly years ahead of her time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's Oscar Night, And I'm Feelin' Right...

It's Oscar season again, and stars strive to get it all right on the red carpet. The two biggest trends were the copius use of red and a move towards more pared down, simple silouettes.

Jennifer Lawrence in the epitome of simple elegance in Calvin Klein. Photo from

Anne Hathaway in Valentino, a dress said by many to be her best of many costume changes.

Sandra Bullock stuns in Vera Wang, photo from Flypaper.Bluefly

Favorites were:

Cate Blanchett is stunning in Givenchy, from possibly one of my favorite couture collections of the season. Photo from

Gwen keeps it clean in custom Calvin Klein, photo from Racked.Com

Hands down my favorite. Florence from Florence and the Machine in Valentino. Stunning color, class, elegance and sex appeal all in one package. Photo from