Unordered List

Monday, 29 October 2012

Gareth Pugh, Spring 2013 Ready-To-Wear.

It's important to remember that no matter how obscure your demographic, the world of fashion will have something tailored specifically to fit you. Gareth Pugh primarily designs for the alien robot market, a small but apparently significant group that's managed to keep him in business for several years. It's so hard to find clothes that flatter one's chitinous exoskeleton, you know?
This show was considerably more relaxed than anything else I've seen by Gareth Pugh. It definitely qualifies as Ready To Wear, but is that really what one wants from this particular designer? I miss the metallic robot outfits and the black-and-white pierrot gowns. And quite apart from that, Pugh just doesn't seem to be all that good at more conservative designs like these. By the previous standards of his own work this show was surprisingly wearable, but not necessarily very interesting.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Skyfall: Bond as a blunt instrument.

When Daniel Craig was first cast in the role of 007, the aim was to revitalise Bond as a more realistic action hero like Jason Bourne. Unfortunately, Casino Royale never quite lived up to that -- and the less that's said of Quantum of Solace, the better. The two main problems with Casino Royale were that it's damn difficult to make an accessible thriller about the unavoidably static environment of a card game, and also that the writers of had the wrong idea of how to make Bond "serious" in the first place. After twenty films of varying levels of quality and ridiculousness, I understand the reasoning behind trying to make a grittier 007, especially since the genre has been parodied so often already. But in the case of Casino Royale, the filmmakers' idea of how to make Bond more realistic was to excise much of the humour of the old-school films, and add more angst. As an origin story for the character we see in Skyfall, it works. As a Bond film, it was slick but not very much fun.
I'm honestly rather surprised by how excellent Skyfall turned out to be. I'd heard good things, but the concept of a well-written Bond film with nuanced characterisation hadn't even occurred to me. The phrase "best Bond ever" comes to mind, although it's probably unfair to compare a lightweight post-war spy movie with a  big-budget thriller made in 2012. Either way, this was a smarter, more modern Bond that still gelled perfectly with the legacy of the series as a whole. Rather than going for the "any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic" gadgetry of the Pierce Brosnan era, the cyber-terrorism plot of Skyfall forced Bond back into his original role as a blunt instrument. And yes, Skyfall is a movie that manages to use the term "cyber-terrorism" in a non-embarrassing fashion. Who even knew that was possible?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Haider Ackermann, Spring 2013.

Haider Ackermann is my fave and Tilda Swinton's fave, which means two things: 1) that he's been judged to be Objectively Awesome by a panel of experts, and 2) that Tilda Swinton and I are destined to be BFFs.
Ackermann tends to stick very closely to his tried-and-tested design themes, but I'm of the opinion that that's A-OK because no one else is doing what he's doing. I'd divide this particular collection into three sections: pajama-style outfits that closely resemble his other recent work, tailored suits, and translucent, floaty gowns that represent an interesting step away from his usual fare.

Monday, 22 October 2012

SUPER IMPORTANT: Iron Man 3 promo pics.

This is the point where you lose all respect for me as a writer and an adult and a human because I'm posting about a) a trailer for a trailer, and b) a bunch of uninformative photos of superheroes standing around and looking at stuff. (N.B. Yes, a trailer for a trailer. Please direct your tears of frustration at Marvel, not me.)
These promo pictures truly are a reassuring balm because thanks to them, we no longer have to worry that Iron Man wouldn't appear in Iron Man 3, or that Robert Downey Jr had suddenly become non-handsome. We can now rest easy in the knowledge that RDJ continues to be pleasurable to look at, and that at some point in this movie he puts on the Iron Man armour and fights something. I swear, superhero movie promotional material is more tightly controlled than press-releases from presidential campaign offices. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Elementary 1x03: Child Predator


Previously: Elementary 1x02: While You Were Sleeping.

The opening scene of this episode was so dire that I was straight-up boggling at the screen. A twelve-year-old gets into a car with a strange man, who then leaves "THANK YOU" balloons behind as a taunting gift for the kid's parents? WHAT. First of all, this is cheesy as hell, but also it doesn't make sense once we know that the boy has the emotional intelligence to begin manipulating his captor almost immediately, and within two years is masterminding his own crimes. Our society is so riddled with paranoia about child abduction and paedophiles that the "get into my van" narrative is something that children are warned about from a very young age, making this episode's opening scene rather difficult to believe. I realise that putting it this way does sound somewhat like victim-blaming, like smart kids "shouldn't" get kidnapped, but considering the characters involved I feel like it's a fair point.
It would have made more sense if the writers had implied that Adam had shown signs of psychopathy even as a child, and that he might have "allowed" himself to be abducted out of curiosity. There was already some hint of that in the form of Adam saying he enjoyed seeing his grieving parents on TV, but it was never really followed through. Either you can have a manipulative teenage genius serial-killer who forces an adult man to be his accomplice, or can you have a character who at the age of twelve is naiive enough to get into the car of a complete stranger in a scene that seemed like it was lifted directly from a PSA video. I just don't think that they can plausibly be the same person, even allowing for the effects of trauma.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The iconic menswear of James Bond.

In the run-up to Skyfall I've had a few requests for Bond-related costume posts. Well, I'm afraid that's probably not going to happen, except maybe for Skyfall itself. The reason for this is I try to write about things that are slightly off the beaten track, costume-wise. There are some TV shows and movies that already get a lot of mainstream coverage for their costumes, either because they're showy and beautiful like Downton Abbey or Titanic, or because style and product placement are an acknowledged feature of the story. The James Bond franchise definitely falls into that second category, with Bond's suits being some of the most iconic movie costumes of the past 50 years. Just try counting how many lazy dudes you see at Halloween parties this year, wearing a tux and claiming to be 007.
The character of James Bond is all about style: signature cocktails, well-tailored suits, and vehicles and weaponry whose serial numbers are lovingly recited in every single movie. There are entire books dedicated to Bond's costumes, to his accessories, his gadgets, and the love-interests who are purposefully written as being less memorable than his trusty Walther PPK. There have been whole museum exhibitions catering to fans of Bond props and costumes. Basically, as a casual watcher rather than a hardcore 007 nerd, I have little to offer. It'd be the blogging equivalent of an English undergrad thesis on Pride & Prejudice. HOWEVER! I am able to offer you a plethora of links to other, far more well-informed people!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Chanel, Spring 2013: At least there's no iceberg this time?

Click here for previous posts on Chanel.

What's the theme of this season's show? You know there must be one, because Karl Lagerfeld is in charge. This time last year it was an Under The Sea theme featuring Florence Welch emerging from a conch shell, but this one is a little more obscure. I'm going to let you mull it over a bit and then reveal the truth after the cut, so for now just take a gander at this outfit and try to divine its ~hidden meaning~.
pics from Style.com
Of all the challenges one has to face in order to reach the Fashionista's Stone, Lagerfeld's would surely be the Snape-style brain-teaser that relies too heavily on metaphor. Actually, the idea of Lagerfeld as Fashion Snape is worryingly believable... 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

My continuing love-affair with the costume design of Revenge.

Click here to read previous Revenge reviews. Warning: This post contains unavoidable spoilers for the first two episodes of season 2.

I'm impressed by the way Revenge has transitioned smoothly from its original single-season arc to a more long-running format. With a specifically goal-oriented storyline like Emily's revenge plot I was worried that we'd end up in a Twin Peaks type situation with the writers frantically trying to pull new plotlines out of nowhere, but season two is already shaping up to be excellent. I don't see much point in discussing every little plot detail because there are just so many, but my favourite thing so far has been the way Victoria's resurrection was revealed almost immediately. Revenge is a soap opera at heart, but it's damn well-written, and I admire the decision to let Victoria out at the beginning of the season when a lesser show would surely have kept that secret hanging over half of the characters for much longer.
The huge gap in Emily's backstory is a real gift to this show, particularly since it means we now get to see a whole bunch more of her Batman side. Batmanda is one of my very favourite parts of Revenge because watching intelligent women coolly brutalise their enemies makes my heart blossom like a flower. Sadly this storyline also comes with one of the worst aspects of the show, ie the two-dimensional racist stereotype that is Takeda, but fortunately it seems like his mentor role will be explored more thoroughly this season. Flashback scenes to her Batman training with Takeda are particularly interesting because she has such a radically different attitude towards him than she does towards anyone else in the show. In the Hamptons every person aside from Nolan is an unknowing pawn in her revenge plans, but Takeda is in the unique position of having Emily genuinely look up to him for guidance.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Elementary 1x02: While You Were Sleeping.

Previously: Elementary: characterisation, the unaired pilot, and its relationship to Sherlock Holmes canon.

This episode cemented the main opinions I formed from watching the pilot: that while the Holmes/Watson dynamic is a delight, the crime storylines are very generic. I actually found this episode more predictable than last week's, because once you introduce a pair of soon-to-inherit heiresses and a collection of murder victims who all share the same genetic traits, it's not hugely difficult to put two and two together. While the heiress-murderer plotline fell comfortably within the scope of classic Holmesian mysteries, the procedural crime drama episode structure was so formulaic that most similarities to Sherlock Holmes were lost. This is particularly true because while canon Holmes did make mistakes on occasion, this type of episode structure requires so many red herrings that just like in the pilot episode, Holmes hardly seemed much cleverer than any other TV detective. Hopefully the crimesolving and deduction scenes will improve as the season progresses.
source
Until the crime writing picks up, the other aspects of the show will definitely be enough to keep me watching. I'm already loving Joan Watson's characterisation, particularly the objective fact that she really is good at her job. First of all, she's excellent at establishing boundaries, which is pretty rare on TV. Usually characters end up either with an established BFFs dynamic from the very first episode, and standoffish female characters are almost always portrayed as defensive bitches who need to be thawed out. Secondly it's pretty explicit that her relationship with Holmes is (currently) professional rather than friendly, which I honestly find rather refreshing considering my previous point that most buddy-cop stories have the main duo setting the tone very early on and carrying on in the same bickering-partners dynamic ad infinitum.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Alexander McQueen, Spring 2013.

It's almost expected at this point for Alexander McQueen to be one of the most critically acclaimed shows of Fashion Week, but this season's collection was so good that I dove off a waterfall like Pocahontes and then spontaneously sprouted wings on the way down. While most of Spring season is taken up by catwalk shows that showcase too many trenchcoats and not enough imagination, McQueen (currently headed up by Sarah Burton, McQueen's protege) breezed in with 32 stunning outfits themed around bees and beehives.
The show opened with a series of suits in black and gold, bearing the recurring motif of honeycomb patterns and accompanied by stylised beekeeper hats. The silhouette was familiar: rigid bodices and nipped-in waists, with the angular peplums McQueen have been using for several seasons now. "Wasp waist" is already a well-known term, but some of these suit jackets reminded me more of the iridescent shells of a beetle.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Spring 2013 Fashion Week: Erdem and Vivienne Westwood Red Label

Vivienne Westwood Red Label
The beauty of Vivienne Westwood is that she can start off with literally any theme and still have the resulting show turn out like a giant "fuck you". With this season's Red Label collection she went for a ladylike mid-20th-century aesthetic, using boxy woollen suits and 1950s cocktail dresses as a jumping-off point.
The styling helped a lot to temper the relatively conservative nature of this collection, with models stepping out onto the catwalk wearing Crayola-hued facepaint and Stepford-parody hairstyles. This wasn't my favourite Westwood collection, perhaps because for once she didn't seem to be designing for her own personal wardrobe. I often find that Westwood is at her best -- or at least, at her most Westwood, which is pretty much the same thing -- when she's courting outright ugliness, rather than this watered-down throwback to the period when she was mocking the fashions of the British aristocracy.