Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture, Spring 2012.

The fashion world isn't known for its careful handling of sensitive subjects, so a couture collection inspired by Amy Winehouse, a mere six months after her death, wasn't as surprising as it might have been in a different industry.

They say Winehouse had iconic style, but much of that was down to hair and makeup. Her particular brand of kitschy rockabilly-lite came into its own after she hit the A-list (and therefore probably had a stylist), and wasn't far off the street-style of hundreds of other Camdenites. The beehive wig and cat-eye makeup are memorable enough that they make for a recognisable Amy Winehouse look when combined with almost any outfit.
Gaultier is known for his corsets; for elaborate sexiness. Winehouse was known for trashiness, imbued with the infamy of all talented young addicts who die young in the public eye. This collection managed to take enough inspiration from Winehouse that the influence was visible in at least half of the outfits, but avoided heavy-handedness. It succeeded for the same reason as why most Couture designs inspired by, say, Marilyn Monroe or Grace Kelly, are doomed to critical failure these days. Marilyn and Grace are both remembered for wearing sumptuous gowns and movie-costume formalwear (and in Grace Kelly's case, literally becoming a princess) so any couture line drawing inspiration from them is going to end up looking like unimaginative pastiche. But couture's need for luxury and experimentation meant that a direct copy of Amy Winehouse's pencil skirts, polka-dots and Camden Market attire was out of the question. It had to be tempered with the high-end gloss of classic Gaultier.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Spring 2012 Haute Couture: Dior, Mabille, Valli, Givenchy, Versace, and Armani.

Christian Dior

It's rare for me to agree with anything the Guardian' Fashion Editor Jess Cartner-Morley writes, but today's "Has couture lost its edge?" article was pretty spot on. So far the shows at Couture Fashion Week have been lacklustre, when ordinarily they'd be the highlight of the fashion world's year. That's the danger of working in an art form that relies upon funding from retail business and work from hundreds of disparate corporate employees worldwide. In times of economic difficulty, imagination and creativity have to fall by the wayside in favour of saleability and broad appeal. The Dior show was a textbook  example of this: sumptuous quality combined with a back-to-basics approach to the classic New Look silhouette -- a collection that could have been released at any time in the last 60 years, and sold well in any of them.
I have less criticism for Dior than I do for many of the other designers who resorted to trotting out entire collections of tired gown clichés this season. The New Look is Dior's heritage and legacy, and the quality of their Couture is so high that I can excuse a season or two of relatively bland designs. Plus, when Dior stages a Couture show they really know how to go for full-on glamour and allow the models to work it for once, instead of making them strut and down like seething, expressionless droids.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Fall 2012 Menswear: Givenchy, John Galliano, Ann Demeulemeester, Berluti, Commes des Garcons, and Walter van Beirendonck.

Givenchy
The title of this show was The American Dream, but before I learned that I assumed it was more of an American sports theme than anything so metaphysical. The striped shirts were close relatives of the rugby jersey, and the skirts reminded me of cheerleading skirts thanks to the star patterns. "Leather sweatshirt" isn't really a look that works in real life, but by and large I approve of this show since it avoided the obvious red-white-and-blue stereotyping of a typical USA-themed collection. As is typical, the skirts were balanced out by heavily masculine touches over the rest of the outfits -- clumpy shoes, bullish nose-rings (inspired by the Minotaur, because apparently that's a thing that people are inspired by), hints of sportswear, and a lack of close tailoring. The concept of designers feeling the need to compensate for skirts in menswear collections is one that I find irritating, but easy enough to understand.
And no, this isn't a kilt. Kilts don't have pleats at the front.
The progress of man-skirts from the far outer reaches of high-end menswear to everyday high street fashion is slow-going, but I'm heartened to see more of them on the runways every year. The stigma of wrapping some cloth around your waist is idiotic -- especially since skirts or kilts can often be more flattering than trousers to certain body types.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Fall 2012 Menswear: Yohji Yamamoto, Burberry, Etro, Moschino, Gaultier, Umit Benan, Cavalli, Kris Van Asshe, Paul Joe, and Versace.

Yohji Yamamoto
Many designers take a stab at the loosely-tailored casual suit, but in my opinion none of them ever measure up to Yohji Yamamoto. I rarely post other designers' attempts because they tend to look like ill-fitting pajamas, but with Yamamoto there's always a real solid elegence to his menswear, highlighted by his model choices. Yamamoto is a great proponent of using "real"-looking models, something that's always more common in menswear runway shows than in women. He's right, as well... a sylphlike 18-year-old wouldn't look nearly as good in outfits like this as this guy:
Another thing I count in Yamamoto's favour is that like Vivienne Westwood, he creates clothes that are authentic to his own wardrobe. One never has any doubt that Yamamoto would wear almost any look from his menswear collections, to the extent that he could easily blend in with his models on the runway.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Pre-Fall 2012: Alberta Ferretti, Balenciaga, Issey Miyake, Alexander McQueen, Emilio Pucci, and Viktor & Rolf

Alberta Ferretti
Alarm bells immediately began to ring when I set eyes on this collection. FIRST JAZZ-AGE INSPIRED SHOW OF THE YEAR! The first of many, since one of this year's unavoidable manufactured trends is going to be faux flapper styles, all thanks to the already overhyped Great Gatsby remake. Do you know when Gatsby comes out? December. And considering the fact that the quality of Baz Luhrman's films seems to be inversely proportional to the amount of money and star-power pumped into them, it's probably not even going to be a very good movie.
pics from Style.com

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Fall Menswear 2012: Alexander McQueen, Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo and more.

Alexander McQueen
Knee-breeches are the best. I've been wearing them, or variants thereof, for a while now, and eagerly await the moment when Tudor pantaloons come back into style. (I can dream, OK?) So it's time once again for me to be smug about spotting an upcoming trend in advance, and/or using my pattern-recognition skills to twist reality to fit with my desired worldview.
This season's McQueen menswear doesn't reach the lofty heights of the label's recent womenswear collections -- what could? -- but it's buoyed up by a surprising amount of personality for what's essentially another riff on the classic suit. And even though McQueen chose to go for a photoshoot rather than a runway show this season, the modeling choices are interesting in themselves -- no typically lanky, beanpole-like male models here, plus some of the poses hint towards not androgyny (that staple of all high-end fashion) but a certain femininity.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Dolce & Gabbana Menswear: Fall 2012.

I think this is the first menswear post I've made on Hello, Tailor, so let me begin with this obvious yet necessary disclaimer: menswear is different from womenswear. Due to the way our society views men "dressing up", menswear tends to be a lot less daring than womenswear. I guarantee that when Fall Fashion Week comes along, there will be multiple looks that will make you go, "What the hell is that?" and then think, "Well, I suppose Lady Gaga/Tilda Swinton/Beyonce will be wearing it by next month." During Menswear Fashion Week there will be some bizarre and wonderful outfits on the runway, make no mistake, but I highly doubt that you'll be seeing many of them on men in the public eye. There will always be people willing to spend a three-figure sum on designer t-shirts, but there's less pressure for menswear designers to explore much further than that. Happily, there will also be an awful lot of well-tailored suits, so you can expect to see a lot of suit pictures in the upcoming weeks.
photos from Style.com
Dolce & Gabbana is only the second show I've looked at this Menswear Fashion Week, but I'm already sure that it's still going to be one of my favourites come the end of the season. D&G have expertly trod the line between traditional suits and eye-catching runway fashion, ending up with something that mixes unexpected fabric choices, three-piece formal suits (always a winner), and old-fashioned luxury without often straying into the territory of over-the-top opulence.

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Previously: A fan's introduction to costume design.

This is something of a follow-up to my post from a few months ago, in which I criticised the way the American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was being marketed. Having now seen the film itself, I can say that it's just as excellent as all the reviews say, although I still prefer the original Swedish version. Rooney Mara's performence was brilliant (and often surprisingly funny -- she's a master of the deadpan "fuck you" one-liner), and different enough from Noomi Rapace's that it didn't seem like a retread. Daniel Craig's was a little trickier. He was a lot more likeable than Michael Nyqvist, the actor who played Blomkvist in the Swedish film, and I think the story benefits from Blomkvist being an appealing character since Salander is so intent on being unappealing. But Craig almost seemed too polished and charming, whereas Nyqvist was more believable as a middle-aged journalist. It feels cheap to namecheck James Bond, but Craig came across as a little too charming and heroic for my tastes, for all that Salander still bore the brunt of the violence in the film.

Craig was far more dapper than I expected for the character of Blomkvist, which made it more difficult for me to separate Daniel Craig from Michael Blomkvist in my mind, particularly since he's otherwise famous for another very well-dressed character. This new, stylish Blomkvist wore tailored trousers and was rarely seen without a fitted waistcoat -- in other words, he was often almost indistinguishable in appearance from Daniel Craig in red-carpet mode.
To my surprise, I had no problems with the alterations Fincher made to the ending. In fact, it counted in the film's favour since I no longer knew what was going to happen next. My main criticisms come down to personal taste rather than the objective quality of the film.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Pre-Fall 2012: Chloe, Pedro Lourenco, Stella McCartney, Roksanda Ilincic, The Row, and Giambattista Valli.

Chloé
You can thank post-war fashion photographer Irving Penn for the popularity of the plain-white-backdrop photoshoot style that has come to annoy me so much in recent years. Back in the day it was innovative, but since many models nowadays are directed to pose with fixed expressions of boredom and/or grim dissatisfaction, having them stand in front of something that resembles an industrial refrigerator only enhances the photoshoots' lack of humanity.
I thought of Irving Penn when I saw this series of photos from Chloé, with the models posing in a corner. I don't know if this is an intentional homage or not, but it immediately reminded me of Irving Penn's series of Corner Portraits: famous figures such as Salvador Dali, Marlene Dietrich and Igor Stravinsky, all of them photographed while trapped in a corner.
Marlene Dietrich by Irvin Penn, from here.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Pre-Fall 2012: Celine, Givenchy and Preen.

Celine

Before I started writing Hello, Tailor I used to review catwalk shows on my personal blog, dividing any designs I liked into "Clothes I'd wear" and "Clothes other people could wear", because I recognise that a lot of the time an outfit can be interesting and well-made without being to my personal taste. If I only posted pictures of clothes I personally would wear, this would be a pretty boring blog. But sometimes, even taking into account the fact that everyone has different taste, there's no criticism to make except THIS IS BAD CLOTHING.

Celine, YOU HAVE MADE BAD CLOTHING.
all pics from style.com
What is this? And where did the photoshoot take place? A 90s hotel room with shag carpeting and "modern" fixtures that consist of huge, pointless, 2001: A Space Odyssey slabs of metal attached to the walls for no apparent reason? In front of which the models lined up like so many pissed-off looking Charlie Chaplin impersonators in their ill-fitting trousers, slouching forwards as the cameraman turned the flash up to 11 for maximum ugly shadow projected onto the backdrop behind them? What a dismal scenario. You can see it in her eyes, can't you?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Pre-Fall 2012: Alexandre Herchcovitch, Giles, Lanvin, Alexander Wang, and more.

Alexandre Herchcovitch
Sorry to be the one to tell you this, but next season we're all going to be wearing high-waisted tapered tartan trousers and double-breasted crop-tops made from faux sheepskin. Why? Because Alexandre Herchcovitch says so. Little known fact: he does things like this to get back at people for mispronouncing his name.
Oh, definitely.
And for the cold-weather version of this outfit, we have this sheepskin (probably?) jacket that looks like it may or may not decapitate the model whenever she bends over. And a double-breasted (double-crotched?) tartan skirt, that old... favourite...
All pics from Style.com.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The most important thing about BBC Sherlock's "A Scandal In Belgravia".

I love Sherlock Holmes. Not just the new adaptations where Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law slap-fight in 14 layers of tweed and drive a steampunk rocketship into Benjamin Disraeli (or whatever pseudo-Victorian thing it is this year). Those movies are great and everything, but I also like to read the books. In fact, once I made a timeline bookmark for my Complete Sherlock Holmes so I could read them in chronological order from "GLOR: 1875" (The Adventure Of The Gloria Scott) to "LAST: 1914" (His Last Bow). Simply put, the reason why there's less plot/characterisation analysis than usual in this post is because if I started I wouldn't be able to stop. I'd just hulk out into an ultimate Sherlock nerd and start word-vomiting a treatise on why Mycroft's cigarette choices indicate that he and Sherlock were neglected as children.
Photo from one of GQ's many articles about Sherlock's (apparently) endlessly fascinating coat.
The costumes of Sherlock are, to be honest, not hugely exciting. In the first series they establish Sherlock Holmes in a uniform of dark, expensive designer menswear, and John Watson in a selection of porridge-coloured jumpers and dumpy cardigans apparently chosen to make him look as nondescript as possible. You could probably knit John and Sarah Lund from The Killing together into some kind of BBC crime-drama knitwear Megazord.