Unordered List

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Fall 2012 shows: David Koma, MaxMara, Donna Karan, and Duro Olowu.

David Koma
Business casual by way of Blade Runner? That's what I got from the earlier looks in this collection, anyhow. Unfortunately I was dead wrong, because Koma claims one of his primary inspirations was the art of Thierry Poncelot who, first of all, has the awesome name of Poncelot, and secondly... well, google him. Thierry Poncelot's work is exclusively portraits of dogs wearing human clothing. Perhaps I'm just not smart enough to see how that intersects with the various themes exhibited in this collection, but I doubt it.
While not exactly peculiar-looking, this wasn't a very ready-to-wear RTW collection. The majority of the show was taken up with full-outfit looks that would look decidedly odd if broken down into separates and combined with clothes from other sources. On a more positive note, Koma's structure design was appealingly retro-futurist, with several of the outfits entering Space Race flight attendant territory thanks to fabric and colour choices.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Bill Cunningham New York

After A Man's Story, my next fashion film at the Glasgow Film Festival was another documentary about a workaholic fixture of the fashion world. Aside from that similarity, though, Ozwald Boateng and Bill Cunningham couldn't be more different. Bill Cunningham New York is an affectionate and respectful look at a man who finds happiness in his work to the extent that it frees him from the restrictions of everyday society. At over 80 years old, he's been photographing people on the streets of New York City for four decades, and is a familiar face at the various Fashion Weeks. He isn't interested in the money -- in fact, he used to tear up his Details Magazine paycheques back in the day when his photographs were taking up 40 pages per issue. As long as he gets to take pictures of peoples' clothes, he's happy.
This is a film about a true egalitarian, something that's about as common as a unicorn when it comes to the fashion industry. Bill Cunningham doesn't know or care who the celebrities are when he photographs them at charity functions or fashion shows: he only cares about their clothes, and treats everyone he's photographing with the same shy, smiley respect. He's such a widely-loved figure -- both because of his sheer likeability and for the slightly more cynical reason that appearing in one of his On The Street columns is an honour -- that people can hardly complain if he fails to recognise the cast of Gossip Girl. Even Anna Wintour, the Lady Macbeth of fashion, says that it's a real blow when Bill Cunningham ignores you at fashion week, and seems almost friendly during her interview.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Dubiously competent fashion photography at the National Museum's Ancient Egypt party.

Yesterday I went to the National Museum of Scotland adults-only night, because anything that puts sarcophagi and booze in the same locale is A-OK by me. Compared to some of the late-opening museum parties I've been to in the past it was a little underwhelming, partially because tickets weren't free, but since this is only their second event I'll let that slide.
The theme was Ancient Egypt, which meant gold, jeweled body-art, mummies, and the sort of Egyptian-themed cocktail only a Scot could make up -- the Tutankhamorangie, a Glenmorangie whisky promo. To my disappointment not many people had come in costume, outside of a few performers and the dressing-up area.. However, having my camera with me I decided to do a spot of extremely amateur fashion photography. The Sartorialist I most definitely am not.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

London Fashion Week, Fall 2012: Mary Katrantzou.

Digital prints have been on the rise for a while now, but Katrantzou is still queen. She's been on the radar for less than four years, but youth and the fact that she runs her own label give her liberty to pursue her strengths. And what that means at the moment is that she's producing entire shows of unique digital-print clothes season after season. Thanks to a combination of critical accolades and publicity for her new Topshop line, Fall 2012 was her true breakthrough London Fashion Week show.
pics from
Mary Katrantzou shot to the top of my favourite-designers list as soon as I saw her Fall 2011 collection last year. She deserves her good reviews for a multitude of reasons, but most importantly to me, she's creating clothes that are drastically different not only from the current fashion zeitgeist but from anything I've seen before. She's the sort of expert that creates itself -- an artist who has been developing her own visual brand for years, waiting quietly for the rest of the world to catch up. I have no doubt that there are other, lesser-known designers who don't have London Fashion Week slots who have explored prints in equally innovative ways, but Mary K is the only designer in mainstream fashion whom I'd describe as a true master of the art.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

NYFW Fall 2012: Calvin Klein, Aquascutum, Proenza Schouler, and more.

Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein is my fashion nemesis. The label is a household name and yet his actual catwalk shows have, for the past few years, been entirely focused on showcasing some of the least interesting clothes in the history of ever. So this season my low standards were more than satisfied to see two whole dresses that didn't make me languish into a coma.
The seemingly-inappropriate juxtaposition of suit fabrics, conservative necklines/hem lengths, restrictive metal belts and breast-bearing sheer chestpieces was a welcome change from Calvin Klein's Spring 2012 collection, which as I recall consisted of around 50 near-identical beige shift dresses.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Ozwald Boateng: A Man's Story

For the past twelve years, documentary filmmaker Varon Bonicos has been following Ozwald Boateng's journey to becoming one of the most successful tailors and menswear designers in the world. A Man's Story may not be one of the most investigative of documentaries, but from the perspective of someone who gets the same pleasure and intellectual stimulation from high-end fashion that other people might get from going to an art gallery, this film is a godsend.
A Man's Story is a delight to watch for the same reasons that people gravitate towards world-class athletes and musical prodigies. It's immediately apparent that Boateng was made to do what he does. When we first see him with his parents it's a shock because they are so normal-looking. Ozwald, on the other hand, towers over everyone, has perfect posture, and is one of the most attractive people I have ever seen. His mere presence is an advertisement for the clothes he wears and creates. In motion, he's as smooth and exacting as one of his suits. And when he's working on those suits, it's with a silent, intuitive speed that belies the 10,000 hours of practise Malcolm Gladwell says one needs before one can be a master of any skill.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

NYFW Fall 2012: Ralph Lauren, Alexander Wang, Badgley Mischka, Creatures of the Wind, and more.

Ralph Lauren
As someone on twitter put it, this is like looking into my brain. Ralph Lauren's Fall 2012 show was heavily influenced by pre-war British menswear, included multiple flavours of tweed, and was soundtracked by the Downton Abbey theme music. At least half the collection was made up of Edwardian/1920s trouser suits for ladies, about which I could not be happier.
catwalk pics from
This was one of those situations where objective criticism falls by the wayside. I love early 20th Century suits, especially on women; I love knee-length trousers; I love Downton Abbey and continue to masochistically watch it despite the fact that I spend most of each episode shouting obscenities at Julian Fellowes' soap-opera hack style of screenwriting. Yes, this is something of a pastiche collection, but I think it plays around enough with 1910s/20s style (plus being genderswitched) that it doesn't fall into the category of directly-copied period costume.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

New York Fashion Week, Fall 2012: Marc Jacobs, A Détacher, Charlotte Ronson, Doo.Ri, and Helmut Lang.

Marc Jacobs
"Dickensian" is one of the adjectives I've seen bandied about with regards to Marc Jacobs' latest collection, although I'm not sure if I see much of that myself. The loose fit of the coats and the oversized hats may suggest the look of a Victorian street urchin, but I suspect that many of the Dickens comparisons are thanks to the fact that the runway show was soundtracked with extracts from Oliver!

Slightly suspect concept work aside, this collection was absolutely brilliant. Marc played around with texture even more than he has done in the past, to the point that it often seemed more couture than RTW. He clearly has no qualms about putting on a big show for the Fashion Week crowd -- sets, music, the whole shebang.
There was a lack of conventionality that one doesn't often see in ready-to-wear collections from major mainstream labels. The silhouettes were all wide-hipped, often ignoring the contours of the body entirely -- a brave step away from current trends both on and off the catwalks. On paper this wasn't a look that should have worked for me, but I found myself surprised and impressed again and again by the beauty and wearability of outfits that eschewed the waist entirely and padded out the hips to near-comical proportions.

Monday, 13 February 2012

NYFW Fall 2012: Jason Wu.

This season Jason Wu decided to explore his Chinese roots, giving the fashion community ample opportunity to partake in one of their lesser-known hobbies: mildly racist commentary. Sorry, guys, "mysterious" and "ethnic" are not synonumous with "Chinese" in any way, shape or form. Go directly to Vocabulary Jail; do not collect 200 Fashion Dollars.

The show was divided into three themes, the first being the military of Mao-era China. The colour palette was obvious: the green-grey of military uniforms, and the red of Communism.
A lot of the time a designer's original inspiration is so obscure (cf. Gary Graham's Iranian wrestling tunics/Manchester Film Festival inspiration for his recent NYFW show) that it adds relatively little to my interpretation of a collection. In this case it added a certain coherency that might not otherwise have been apparent since it was genuinely helpful to see the demarcation between Wu's favoured three periods of Chinese history

Sunday, 12 February 2012

New York Fashion Week, Fall 2012: Rag & Bone, Rebecca Taylor, Tess Giberson, Jen Kao, and St. John.

Rag & Bone
Rag & Bone have come a long way from their original starting place as one of the jeans-and-jackets brigade of Ready-To-Wear designers. This season they went for a slight (very slight, since RTW shows at New York Fashion Week are not generally a place for wild experimentation) Indian influence, which mostly made itself known in the shape of dhoti-inspired pants and skirts. For instance, the stylised, dhoti-like folds on this skirt were sleek as fish scales, and the otherwise street-friendly jacket and accessories edged it firmly into wearable RTW territory.

Friday, 10 February 2012

New York Fashion Week, Fall 2012: Gary Graham and Tadashi Shoji

NYC Fashion Week is impossible to keep up with unless you have a Time Turner, even if you're actually at NYC Fashion Week, so here are my favourite two shows of... the first half of the first day. Likelihood of me being able to look at more than a two days' worth of shows before Fashion Week ends entirely: slim to none. 

Gary Graham
pics from
Gary Graham hasn't really been on my radar before, so this show seemed to me to have leapt out of nowhere: the ideal Ready-To-Wear line. Comfortable and wearable, but distant enough from current highstreet trends that it doesn't look like the jeans-and-trenchcoats collections so many designers churn out during RTW season. Gary Graham has created a collection of everyday clothes that look unusual without involving the full-on intensity of a couture collection.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Movie Costumes I Have Loved: Hanna.

Regular readers will be unsurprised to learn that last month's Oscar nominations did not exactly wow me in the Costume Design category. All five nominated films are period dramas (if you're interested in more detail as to why this irritates me, try my Introduction to Costume Design post), and in my view only one of them deserves a win: Hugo, whose costume designer Sandy Powell has already been nominated ten times and won three. Her acceptance speech for The Young Victoria last year mostly amounted to, "This one's dedicated to all the costume designers who work on films that aren't about dead monarchs -- you know, the ones you guys routinely ignore." COME ON.
As for what I'd nominate, the easiest answer is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Although perhaps not an obvious contender for its costumes, my other favourite movie of 2011 was Hanna. It stars Saoirse Ronan as a girl raised in complete isolation by her father, a former spy. When Hanna reaches her mid-teens she decide that she's ready leave the forest where they've lived for her entire life, but in order to live freely they must first escape the clutches of Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), the CIA agent who has been hunting Hanna's father for years.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Fall 2012 Menswear: Agnes B., Damir Doma, Dior, Lanvin, Miharayasuhiro, and Thom Browne.

Agnès B.
I'm impressed that this is even possible, but: Agnès B. managed to create a denim miniskirt -- in a menswear collection, even -- that looks at least semi-dignified. Aside from the ankle-socks over the tights, this outfit is perfect casualwear.