Unordered List

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Dressing for the Apocalypse

Glasgow is currently experiencing one of those Grey Christmasses that are so often inexplicably ignored by song and story. Grey because the sun only rises for about two hours per day; grey because of the unrelenting sleet. Today, a trip to the shops was not unlike one of those Lord Of The Rings scenes where Frodo and Sam are trudging up Mount Doom. Or The Road:
As a further illustration of how much of a Feral Sweater Person one becomes in this climate, this is what I was wearing to go out on said shopping trip:
Caveat: I haven't actually seen The Road. However, I know what it looks like, and was reminded of this when I met up with my friend J the other day. I should mention at this point that J has been living in a forest for the last six months, although in the interests of fairness I should also mention that he kind of dresses like this anyway. It's awesome:

Thursday 22 December 2011

Pre-Fall 2012: Max Azria, Missoni, Rachel Zoe, and Erdem.

Hervé Léger by Max Azria
Plain, pretty dresses: something you won't usually find much of on this blog. However, something about this line from Max Azria got to me. For some reason it reminds me of the Hunger Games, and the outfits Katniss was made to wear by her stylists before she went into the arena. Tight and sexy, but sporty and strong at the same time. Look at this model -- she looks ready and able to punch someone, I think:
pics from
I'm not sure where these strappy harness accessories came from, but they really lift the dresses from the oft-repeated skintight bandage dress aesthetic of Max Azria into something a little punkier and ever-so-slightly sci-fi.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Pre-Fall 2012: Diane von Furstenberg, J. Mendel, Moschino Cheap & Chic, Alice + Olivia, and Giorgio Armani.

Diane von Furstenberg
I think that's some kind of... digitalised houndstooth pattern? I'm not sure. What I do know is that it looked enough like houndstooth that I immediately had the stomach-turning fashion thought of, "houndstooth is so in right now". I disgust myself sometimes. It smacks of trend articles like this one, in which Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian's houndstooth outfits are compared/forced to compete for our entertainment. First of all, Gaga's is obviously better because she went marvellously over-the-top with houndstooth accessories, stockings, makeup and piano, playfully turning the "conservative and tweedy" houndstooth image on its head, but secondly... this article exists for realzies. Oh boy. I don't like "who wore it better" gossip stories at all, since they're invariably code for "here are two attractive millionaires in similar outfits -- now, you decide which one is a flawed and hideous creature!" That's not "following fashion". That's petty and needless judgement of strangers based on their appearance.
I'd like this 100x more if the belt and sunglasses were removed, since they turn it into a fairly generic party-dress outfit. Sans belt, the combination of transluscent latex-y dress, visible stocking-tops, severe shoes and  leather gloves make for a rather interesting faux-fetish look.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Pre-Fall 2012: Helmut Lang, Vera Wang, Thakoon, and various other designers who want their models to have chilly knees.

Previously on Pre-Fall 2012: Karl Lagerfeld's interpretation of Indian style, and a bunch of other designers who were considerably less exciting than Chanel.

The reason for my lack of recent posting is that Scotland's recent hurricane (!) (sounds worse than it is) took out my internet/phone lines. Currently I'm embroiled in a war of attrition with my internet service providers, who alternately tell me my internet works (a lie), or that I don't exist (difficult to prove). I take this as a personal slight on my life choices from said internet providers, specifically that they think I should be trudging manfully through the snow looking for Christmas gifts, rather than sitting indoors in the warm and looking at pictures of clothes. But today my connection has been grudgingly upgraded to that of mid-1990s dial-up, so while I can't yet watch last week's season finale of The Killing, or, you know, send emails with attachments, I can flick through a few galleries.

Dear readers: prepare to be underwhelmed by the banalities of Pre-Fall fashion. Unlike Karl Lagerfeld, these designers do not see the value of a banquet hall or a miniature gold-plated steam train, or, indeed, of a catwalk fashion show. Once again we enter the realm of women doing mannequin impressions in front of blank white walls.

Helmut Lang
Pleasingly assymetrical, and I enjoy the cutaway patterns. Somehow the white jeans manage to look... not-unseasonal? Perhaps white jeans are more tolerable when you can only see them from the mid-thigh downwards.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Pre-Fall 2012: Zac Posen, Michael Kors, Jason Wu and Donna Karan.

The frequently boring nature of Pre-Fall lines (plus my desire not to spam you with multiple tiny posts) means that most designers are not going to get their own post this season. Although Karl Lagerfeld decided that his Pre-Fall 2012 show could not be adequately displayed without banquet tables and a miniature gold Chanel-logo railway, most designers tend to show their Pre-Fall collections by standing a model in front of a blank background, telling her to pose like an awkward automaton, and photographing her in the accepted manner of "glum and weirdly unbending".

Michael Kors
I took one look at this and lost several seconds of my life to thoughts of Due South, the greatest Canadian Mountie-based surreal comedy-drama cop show of all time.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Chanel Pre-Fall 2012: Karl Lagerfeld has never been to India but let's just gloss over that, shall we?

Previously on Chanel: Karl Lagerfeld, Lord of the Sea, addresses the proletariat via harp and conch shell.

Chanel's Pre-Fall 2012 collection surprised me on two counts:
  1. While this line is "India-inspired" (instant alarm bells, especially since Karl Lagerfeld has never been to India) it doesn't seem like the creepy cultural appropriation that typically results from this kind of idea. Of course, come 2012 real-time -- as opposed to fashion-time, which operates approximately six months in everyone else's future -- I fully expect to see a whole host of mildly-racist photoshoots in Vogue, Elle, etc. (If this sounds like cynicism, that's because it is. I'll be sure to get back to you in six months if the world of high-end magazine photography has managed to align itself with the cultural mores of the 21st century by then, but I doubt it.)
  2. Against all fashion-world logic, this show is actually more interesting than Chanel' Spring 2012 line, despite the fact that Pre-Fall isn't a "real" season.
Thankfully, Lagerfeld resisted the temptation to give the models an India-inspired setting, restraining himself to an opulent banquet hall including a Chanel-brand miniature railway carrying decanters round and round the central table as the audience gazed on wistfully from afar, tragically decanter-less. I suspect that the audience couldn't see the lower half of the outfits over the top of their banquet tables, but I doubt any of them complained within earshot of Lagerfeld.

The looks ranged from quite obviously India-inspired to classic Chanel designs such as the kind of fitted, boxy skirt-suits that tend to send me to sleep. There were some rather pretty ones this season, but I'm only posting one of them because you know what a skirt suit looks like already, come on:
All catwalk photos from

Tuesday 6 December 2011

The Good Wife 3x10: "Parenting Made Easy"

Previously: A Fan's Introduction to Costume Design.

The Good Wife, as well as being very entertaining and probably the most grown-up show on television, contains some subtly excellent costuming. I haven't posted about it before because the clothes are just one aspect of a show that's brilliant overall, but like many aspects of TGW's quality they crept up on me.

This post requires a little backstory, but no major spoilers for the latest episode (3x10). Earlier in the season Alicia ( lawyer and titular "Good Wife") was told to hire a new junior, a choice narrowed down to two young women. Caitlin had a good resume but came across as a little frivolous, and Alicia clearly found it easier to relate to the more serious-minded Martha. However, Alicia was told to hire Caitlin anyway because she was the neice of one of the senior partners.

Because TGW is a show with three-dimensional adult characters, this didn't result in sulking or infighting. Although Caitlin wasn't Alicia's first choice, they've ended up with a good professional relationship, with Alicia even mentoring Caitlin to a certain extent. This week, though, showed the return of Martha, opposing them in court alongside Alicia's longtime rival, Michael J. Fox (!).

Friday 2 December 2011

Links post: stylish new video from The Correspondents; 18th century wigs; Pringle Of Scotland; the joys of fashion jargon; Martin Scorsese's Hugo, and more!

The Correspondents: Dapper electro-swing merchants The Correspondents are back with a new video, Cheating With You. I saw this band many a time back when I lived in London and not only do they give great live performances, the frontman's costumes are a consistent delight. Usually it's some variation on the slimline neo-Edwardian suit, but I also recall hankering after his splendid green peacock-feather-patterned catsuit (not everyone can pull that off).
Engravings of preposterous 18th-century wigs (via The Oncoming Hope): Waiter, there's a hair in my satire! Because who doesn't love 18th century wigs?

The non-season known as "Pre-Fall" has begun, apparently: With Pringle Of Scotland, who for once have produced some clothes that I rather like. Ordinarily I don't have much interest in Pringle because I'm not a knitwear person (sorry) and the silhouettes aren't to my taste. Yes, sometimes even the endorsement of Tilda Swinton, Ultimate Human (to give her her full title) is not enough to seduce me. However, some of the pre-fall 2012 stuff is rather nice:
pics from
More pics and links below the cut!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

The Killing, and the iconic status of Sarah Lund's jumpers.

Previously: A fan's introduction to costume design.

Unpopular opinion time: I don't think that Sarah Lund's jumpers are all that significant.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Sarah Lund is the taciturn protagonist of Danish TV series The Killing, AKA Forbrydelsen. The Killing is a political drama/detective show, the first season taking place over 20 days of a murder investigation in Copenhagen. It was very popular in Denmark, and quickly reached must-watch status in the UK when it aired on the BBC last year. Season 2 just started and I'm watching like a hawk, brain already conditioned into Pavlovian stress attacks whenever I hear the credits music (the Forbrydel-drums). However. While I'm psyched that such a well-made, intelligent, feminist show is so popular, the obsession with Forbrydelsen includes some intense yet slightly bemusing involvement in Lund's jumper choices.
Sarah Lund and the bunch of idiots she has to pretend to tolerate in order to keep her job.
This promo pic gives you a good idea both of Lund's character (confident, serious and aloof), and of the entire cast's attitude towards fashion -- ie, that they don't find it very important.

Thursday 24 November 2011

REVVVEEENNNGE: Nolan Ross costume analysis RETURNS.

I've already written quite extensively about my love of the character Nolan Ross in Revenge. Not only is he the best character in what is already an extremely entertaining show, but his dress sense is eye-bendingly awesome. He has this whole peacockish prepster-satire thing going on, and once you start looking out for it you notice that he appears to be wearing themed outfits in certain scenes. Last week he donned a sleazy-looking brown silk patterned dressing-gown to lounge around in after a sordid, loveless tryst, and I'm almost certain this was on purpose.

At the start of this week's episode (1x09) Nolan is wearing a fairly everyday ensemble: top half normal-looking, bottom half douchey prepster. (Tragically, you can't see the white dress shoes he's wearing to go with the white jeans and white belt. But rest-assured they are very white and shiny.) 
This is his "I'm not going to be hanging around anyone important today so who cares" outfit, the one he wears to do minor household tasks such as purring threats into the ears of people in bars at 11am, and spying on murderous identity-thieving strippers. (I know, right? This show is amazing.) However, later on he's invited to a party full of financial types, there to invest in the probably-corrupt company of his part-time-rentboy fuckbuddy. Aside from the show's protagonist and the aforementioned part-time-rentboy financial advisor, he's the youngest person at the party by about 20 years. So he wears this:

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Leyendecker and the Arrow Collar Man.

Because I feel this blog has been tragically short on vintage suits so far, here's a post all about Leyendecker and the Arrow Collar Man.
The Arrow Collar Man is a creation of J.C. Leyendecker, a German-American illustrator of magazine covers and advertisements in the 1900s-30s. Leyendecker worked on a variety of illustrations and ad campaigns, but his speciality was these hyper-masculine, square-jawed all-American guys who spent their days smoking, posing in a manly fashion, and playing sports. The Arrow Collar Man is kind of The Man Your Man Could Smell like of the early 20th Century.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Movie Costumes I Have Loved: Doomsday

photo from here.
At some point I'll go back to writing serious reviews, but having spent the day wandering around Glasgow, my thoughts turned to Doomsday instead. In this film the costumes, like everything else, are nonsense and should be taken with a pinch of critical salt. Doomsday is the film that would happen if someone put every 1980s dystopic/apocalyptic movie in a blender and then set the resulting mish-mash in mid-21st-Century Scotland. This quote from Cheri Priest will hopefully give you an idea of what I'm talking about:

"’s got humanity-eating plagues, tribes of cannibal punks, medieval-style fiefs with knights and torture chambers, rubber-wrapped gimps, futuristic soldiers with wacky hardware, cyborg eyeballs, embittered but noble old cops, corrupt and power-mad politicians, tanks, humorous decapitations, and Malcolm McDowell dressed like Henry the Eighth."

Also there's a dance sequence set to Adam Ant. This film came out in 2008, by the way. Not back when Adam Ant was still on the cutting edge of the anachronistic pop-culture zeitgeist. To ease you gently into the logic-free world of Doomsday, here's comparatively subdued screenshot:

Monday 14 November 2011

Movie Costumes I Have Loved: True Romance.

I'm taking the "costumes I have loved" theme very literally here, since True Romance is unlikely to make anyone's top ten list of films with cleverest costume design.

I was reminded of this film when I saw Drive this weekend. Drive and True Romance both have this sensitivity/brutality, garishness/darkness dichotomy thing going on, and despite wildly differing in tone, both stories are in similar veins of "petty criminals get in over their heads" + sweet romance. Ryan Gosling's scorpion-pattern jacket is already iconic enough to have inspired fan-made posters, but it comes from the same school of cheap, artificial-fibre colourful Americana as the less famous costumes of True Romance.
True Romance is an early '90s psychos-in-love romantic thriller: Badlands or Bonnie & Clyde by way of Quentin Tarantino. In fact, in true Tarantino referential style, the theme music of True Romance is adapted from Badlands itself.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Movie Costumes I Have Loved: Thor.

For the last ten years or so, blockbuster comicbook movies have been getting gradually less and less comicbook-y. That's not a criticism -- after all, The Dark Knight is a zillion times better than the infamously godawful Batman & Robin, even if it does take place entirely in the dark and focus on a ridiculously good-looking billionaire being sad about how hard his life is -- but I did enjoy getting a chance to see a movie as shamelessly comicbook-looking as Thor, because it really would have been impossible to make a story about sparkly alien god-beings seem super dark and serious. His weapon is a magical hammer, hello.
As you can tell from his helmet, nobody in Asgard gives a shit about low doorways.
(Also, Thor is the first feminist superhero movie. It is! Read that article, it says it better than I ever could.)

I was a bit doubtful of Thor at first, especially since when I asked my comicbook friend Michael whether it was just a film about an angry blond jock with an enormous hammer, he said, "YES, AND THAT'S WHY IT'S AWESOME." But once I saw it I had to agree that while it was still a film about an angry blond jock with a hammer, it WAS awesome! It was 100% sparkles and explosions, and 0% tiresome Hollywood sexism! The hero had a convincing rapport with his love-interest, unlike Batman (Christopher Nolan, I love you, but why must all your female characters be cardboard cut-outs and/or dead?) or Spiderman (Mary Jane: start carrying a taser, you get kidnapped like twice a week)! Thor and Loki's daddy issues were interesting and emotionally compelling, unlike the representation of pretty much any other blockbuster hero's daddy issues ever.
Disco eyepatches are in!
And it has some sparkleicious fantasy costumes, the likes of which have not been seen in years. I love the more "realistic" style of costumes used in LOTR and Harry Potter, but if they'd make Thor all harsh-looking and mysterious it would have ruined it, I think. Much of this movie's appeal comes from the contrast between the over-the-top, rainbows-and-gold visuals of Asgard (where Thor is an alien prince with a magical hammer), and Natalie Portman's impoverished scientist lifestyle in New Mexico (where Thor is a hot yet possibly-crazy homeless man). If you haven't seen the movie then most of the Asgardian costumes in this post are going to look completely ridiculous, but I promise you that in the context of a civilisation of alien vikings (really glam alien vikings, who despite the very sound advice of the superhero costume lady from The Incredibles, still have an ongoing love-affair with capes) they are perfectly acceptable.
Asgard, land of sparkles. That long walkway in the middle is made of GLOWING CRYSTALS and is called the Rainbow Bridge, just FYI.
OK, so for maximum shininess I'd put Heimdall first, even though he's a relatively minor character. Caveat: I have not seen an actor look so much look like an action figure in a long, long time, maybe ever. Even Captain America did not look this much like an action figure, and Captain America practically is an action figure.

Monday 7 November 2011

Movie costumes I have loved: A Knight's Tale.

After writing about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and (kind of) the new Girl With The Dragon Tattoo adaptation, I'd hate it to seem like I only think "serious" films have costumes worth talking about. Time for something a little more lighthearted!
Paul Bettany as bitchy Geoffrey Chaucer is one of the main reasons you NEED to see this film.
A Knight's Tale has been one of my favourite feel-good movies for years, but only recently did I realise that it's become kind of a cult favourite in the decade since it first came out. In the UK at least, most students and people in their mid-twenties have seen it or own it on DVD, although it's not one of those cult-cult movies like The Room or Mean Girls that people quote incessantly -- it's just straight-up fun. I can't help but love the way A Knight's Tale gleefully embraces its own ridiculousness without a trace of irony. If you haven't seen it, here's a test to see if you'll like it or not: If you get annoyed by the fact that this scene appears in an action-comedy supposedly set in 14th century Europe, then probably don't bother watching any more.
From the first minute, A Knight's Tale is awash with self-aware anachronisms, from the soundtrack (Queen; David Bowie; AC/DC) to the fact that in one overhead shot of "medieval" London they have the freaking London Eye made of wood by the Thames. I don't really understand people who frame that as a criticism, since the film never once claims to be historically accurate the way, say, Ridley Scott's Robin Hood touted its "realism". When was the last time you heard someone complain that Pirates of the Caribbean isn't realistic enough? They're similar films -- action/romance comedies with attractive leads and a supporting cast of excellent comedic actors -- but while Pirates has zombies in it (so historical), A Knight's Tale has people dancing to David Bowie and competing in a completely fictitious set of World Cup-like jousting tournaments. Neither of them are historical dramas, they are fantasy movies.
P.S. The whole "jousting world cup" thing was totally fabricated.

Saturday 5 November 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, H&M, and the difficulties of marketing a female action/thriller hero.

Whenever I see an article about H&M's new "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" line I waste valuable seconds of my life being irritated, so where better to vent than my fashion blog?

I'm aware that it's probably stupid to get annoyed by high street fashion marketing. It's always going to be dumb. H&M is just making use of a popular book and movie franchise to sell bland goth-lite clothes. However, the designer hired by H&M to create the Lisbeth Salander line is the costume designer from the actual movie, and the clothes look exactly like normal H&M clothes, except monochromatic. And... "Lisbeth Salander studded wedge heels"? Right.

Omigod I can't wait to get my emotionally-damaged hacker outfit! Yay, generic-looking $200 jackets!
I'm not wild about they way Lisbeth Salander is being marketed in preparation for this film. It's going to be hard enough for Rooney Mara to measure up to Noomi Rapace's fantastic performance in the original Swedish-language adaptations, and I doubt that "sexy" marketing is going to help in that regard. A gajillion people bought this book: isn't that evidence enough that Lisbeth Salander is already an interesting character? Is it necessary for Mara's first -- and aside from a recent spread in Le Monde, which is unlikely to reach most of this movie's prospective viewers, only -- photoshoot for the Dragon Tattoo movie to look like this?
Photos from W Magazine.
Seriously? I mean, obviously this photoshoot wasn't made using the actual Lisbeth Salander costumes, but most people taking a casual glance at it are not going to know that. Aside from the fact that they essentially amount to a collection of sexualised images of a character whose defining backstory centres around child abuse, these pictures do the movie a disservice by making it indistinguishable from a multitude of other fashion spreads. Girl straddling a motorcycle and looking pouty? Meh. Every actress in Hollywood has done a photoshoot that either includes a sexy motorbike pose or involves a goth/punk theme (especially former child stars trying to appear "adult").

Thursday 3 November 2011

Movie costumes I have loved: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,

(Previously on Movies Costumes I Have Loved: A fan's introduction to costume design.)

I've described Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to friends as "a movie about grey-faced men in suits looking at each other suspiciously", although a slightly more accurate description would be that it's a British espionage thriller set during the Cold War, starring Gary Oldman as a spy brought out of retirement to track down a double agent in the upper echelons of MI6. It's full of reticent Englishmen (Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy) staring at each other expressionlessly as they try to figure out who is double-crossing whom, and it's brilliant.
The men of "the Circus".
No one in Tinker, Tailor is dressed ostentatiously, and it would've looked out of place if they had been. The setting is (mostly) London in the early 1970s, but it's not the '70s of David Bowie, it's the '70s of chilly civil service offices during the Cold War, where feminism hasn't really hit yet. There are women working at MI6, but they're mostly office aides working silently in the background.

George Smiley
Gary Oldman's character may be the focus of the story, but he's as sombrely dressed as he is quiet in personality. He's neat, he's efficient, he's dogged, and his clothing gives away about as much as his complete lack of outward emotional expression.
According to an interview with the costume designer, Gary Oldman wears two (very similar) grey suits in the film, but I'm damned if I can tell the difference. Everything about him is engineered to fade into the background. He's one of the old guard of British spies, quiet men who lived through the War and who feel slightly out of place in the rapidly changing world of the 1970s.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Movie costumes I have loved: a fan's introduction to costume design.

When rating movie wardrobes, I deduct points for both period dramas and musicals. Allow me to direct your attention to the list of Academy Awards for Best Costume Design. In the past fifteen years, the only winners that weren't period dramas or musicals were Lord Of The Rings and Alice In Wonderland, both fantasies featuring very ostentatious costuming (not that I begrude LOTR its win, which was thoroughly deserved). Is this because all the designers working on films with a contemporary (or futuristic) setting were incompetent? I doubt it. It's similar to the often-bemoaned problem of hammy "Oscar bait" performances -- At this point, putting Keira Knightley or Helena Bonham Carter in a corset and crinoline is the costuming equivalent of getting Philip Seymour Hoffman to play a mentally-ill Nazi.
A totes realistic portrayal of 18th century womanhood.
As far as I can tell, the main points taken into consideration when judging movie costumes are these:

1. Authenticity. This mostly concerns period dramas, but since they make up the vast majority of costume award nominations (not that awards are the be-all and end-all of cinema, but still.) it's probably the most important point. A lot of fuss is made over historically accurate costuming, which I'd immediately dismiss as pointless. First of all, you can't make a truly historically-accurate costume for anything set before, oh, 1850 or so, for these reasons:
  • Lack of availability of detailed/accurate documentation of day-to-day clothing. Only the rich had portraits, and those would be idealised. There is no such thing as a "casual" painting, and until you reach the age of photography, it's difficult to find pictures of what most people (ie, poor people) would look like in real life.
  • Methods of clothing production are completely different now than they were even 100 years ago, and many of the materials used are now unavailable or stupidly inconvenient to produce. And what's the point in going to the effort of hand-squeezing dye to make your own cloth? Nobody watching the film is going to know or care. No one except fashion historians, who probably enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean as much as the next person, and therefore don't give a crap. 
  • Beauty standards change so drastically that modern actors aren't even the same shape as people even 50 years ago, never mind 500, making "historical authenticity" a moot point in the first place. Try looking at a portrait of a 18th century "beauty" some time. They look weird as shit. Diet was completely different, people had babies at 14, every second person had smallpox or syphilis, all the aristocrats wore Lady Gaga wigs and bathed like once a month... it wasn't pretty. Good luck getting Gwyneth Paltrow to do that for the next kings-and-crinolines epic.
Painting of Queen Victoria's coronation. Obviously, there are no photos.
Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Saturday afternoon links post: X-Men cosplayers, 19th century Russian ballgowns, Tim Gunn discussing Star Trek costumes, and more.

Halloween! The number of "sexy" costumes I saw last night was truly mindblowing. I love them. I have very little respect for shop-bought sexy-nurse or sexy-cop costumes, but when someone goes all out and makes a sexy NyanCat or sexy male Sailor Moon outfit, well, I can only respect that shit. Personally, I was Sexy King Charles II. (ie... my embroidered pantaloons and a feathered headpiece thing, because I was too lazy to actually buy or make a proper costume) If only I'd had a camera with me. (N.B. This year the sexy female Where's Waldos far outstripped the male ones. Is this evidence of the hipster takeover of youth culture?) Anyway, I suspect a lot of you are currently still lurking in bed hiding from the sleet and/or nursing a Halloween hangover. Here are some links of stuff!

Madonna and her daughter in a funny video about her new Material Girl clothing campaign. Why can't she point this sense of humour at her terrible new movie? I mean, first of all it's called "W.E." which I immediately translate as "What. Ever." rather than, well... "Wallis/Edward? It's not totally clear to me what "W.E." is really supposed to stand for. But apparently it's so abysmal that people were laughing out loud during screenings, which makes me wish that Madonna would just release it as-is instead of re-editing it to make it "better" (ie, presumably more boring). It could be the new "The Room"!

The dresses of Tsarina Alexandra Romanova at How To Be A Retronaut.

Spider-Man themed swing dancers! (And more links beyond the jump.)

Tuesday 25 October 2011

New style crush: Nolan Ross in REVEEEENNNGGE.

Following multiple recommendations from The Oncoming Hope, I watched the first episode of Revenge. And then I promptly watched the other four episodes, because it's freaking awesome. It's like a cross between Gossip Girl and Veronica Mars, with the protagonist -- Emily -- seeking REVEEEENNNGE (this in fact is the correct pronunciation of the title -- for best effect, drawl it with the confidence and malicious delight of the truly evil) on the super-rich beautiful people who got her father framed as a treasonous terrorist. There are endless dastardly takedowns and almost every scene involves terrifying society matriarchs smiling charmingly while secretly wishing each other a painful death, but it quite never tips over into the preposterousness of Gossip Girl because the protagonist is so wonderfully dead-eyed and machiavellian. But I'm not here to tell you about the many ways the heroine of REVEEEENNNGE Count-Of-Monte-Cristo's her way around the Hamptons. I'm here to talk about NOLAN ROSS.

Nolan Ross is the only person on the show who knows about Emily's revenge plan. He's a dotcom billionaire with no friends, unlimited funds and free time at his disposal, and a serendipitous desire to help Emily ruin the lives of the rich and evil. He's a very entertaining character, and has marvellously awful dress sense. The rest of the costumes on Revenge are fairly run-of-the-mill "rich attractive people go to social galas" outfits as seen in Gossip Girl, Dirty Sexy Money, etc, but Nolan's costumes are a magnificent ode to candy colours and popped collars.
This is what he looks like when he first appears on the show. My immediate assumption was, "this character is evidently going to be an unbearable caricature", since he's wearing a captain's hat at a marina, despite the fact that he can't sail and doesn't own a boat. He has tiny whales embroidered onto his trousers, and I suspect that the belt may well be somehow nautical in theme. But you know what? He's actually brilliant. He doesn't fall under the tired stereotype of "computer nerd with no social skills" that plagues so many google-detective "hacker" characters on TV -- in fact, he often expresses far more genuine emotion than most of the other characters in the show.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Alexander McQueen, Spring/Summer 2012.

My final S/S 2012 Fashion Week post! I'm now taking suggestions as to what I should write about after this. Ben-Seven suggested the theme of "top five movies, judging by costumes", which sounds damn near impossible because there are just so many choices. Although the #1 movie I saw this week was the Three Musketeers, which went something like this: 25% Orlando Bloom and Milla Jovovich gleefully over-acting at one another, 25% WTF airships, 25% D'Artagnan being unbearable, and 25% OMG THOSE DOUBLET & HOSE ARE AMAZING. Unfortunately, I think most of this film's audience were pre-teens and their parents who took the opportunity to nap for two hours in the cinema, so the internet is yet to provide me with the hi-res screencaps I've come to expect thanks to my recent cinematic diet of superhero movies with intense fanbases. Anyway, if you have any particular fashion-blogging requests, comment/message me! :)

McQueen wasn't as dazzling as last season, but this show definitely stretched the limits of "Ready To Wear". With this level of intricate beadwork, stitching and lace, Alexander McQueen is almost filling the gap left by the financial dissolution of Christian Lacroix last year.
Glam Batgirl.
This season, McQueen combines extreme feminity with monstrousness. Sarah Burton seems to have included fewer animalistic influences in this show than can be seen in some of McQueen's own later collections, but the masks and headdresses still lend an air of the sinister. Alexander McQueen designs have always been brilliant when it comes to evoking aggression without resorting to an appearance of masculinity.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Haider Ackermann, Spring 2012

Haider Ackermann's Fall 2011 line was one of the standout shows of last season, in other words damn near impossible to live up to. However, the Spring 2012 show came quite close. Ackermann designs seem they'd feel like wearing stupidly expensive pyjamas, unusually comfortable-looking for catwalk fashion without going anywhere near the sportswear/t-shirt comfort offered by Alexander Wang. All the colours glow subtly as if from within, with none of the harsh seasonal colour-blocking of Jil Sander or springtime prints of Prada. Ackermann shows take place in the half-dark, so the jewel tones of the shirts and dresses aren't washed out by harsh lighting. The clothes drape luxuriously, they're adjustable to a variety of body shapes, they're adult... and they have the Tilda Swinton stamp of approval. SWINTON!

This collection was more androgynous than last season's, but aside from that it almost seemed like a watered-down version of the Fall 2011 line rather than a development. A lot of the jacket/blouse combinations -- although brilliant -- could have been taken directly from last season, and I wasn't very keen on the filmy, transluscent gowns. It's safe to say that I want every single pair of shoes, though.
I love a good paisley pattern.
Ackermann really knows how to make non-skinny trousers. Right now highstreet shops are flooded with a plethora of highly unflattering "harem pants" (I put this in disparaging inverted commas because a TRUE harem pant should look like Princess Jasmine's from Disney's Aladdin, not a hideous saggy-crotch monstrosity that makes the wearer look like they've rapidly deflated by about 20 inches around the thighs and hips), but this season Ackermann has has managed to produce trousers that pleasingly combine elements from pyjamas, real harem pants, and the traditional tailored suit.

Thursday 13 October 2011

More from Fashion Week: Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Tsumori Chisato

Vivienne Westwood

I have a lot of time for Westwood because she very obviously makes clothes for herself. It's silly to expect all designers to wear their own label, but I do sometimes get a little tired of seeing amazing collections being acknowledged at the end with a sheepish bow from someone wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. There's something to be said for creators who visibly value their own product. Betsey Johnson, for example. And Galliano to a certain extent, although towards the end he had definitely entered self-parody territory. (Some, of course, have their own uniform: LAGERFELD.)

Pictures from
The platform shoes were a delight, and pure vintage Westwood. The draped, messy robes and experimentation with rag-like fabrics plus were more 21st century, but still unmistakably Westwood. See, that's one of the many advantages of making clothes for yourself! Instant brand recognition. Almost every aspect of the styling in this show made the models look like shades of Viv herself.  
Three very plausible options for Helena Bonham Carter's next red carpet outfit.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

CHANEL: Karl Lagerfeld, Lord of the Sea addresses the proletariat via harp and conch-shell.

I don't actually like Chanel very much, but I sure as hell love Karl Lagerfeld. He's like the Chuck Norris of fashion, in the purest pop-culture sense that you probably don't want to hear his opinions on politics or society but he's sure as hell a crazy crazy badass. The eternal question is, is Karl Lagerfeld taking the piss? Answer: Never. OR: Always. Possibly both. Because he's Karl Lagerfeld. He's known for saying things like "I have no human feelings," and "If you throw money out of the window throw it out with joy. Don’t say 'one shouldn’t do that' - that is bourgeois." He does not operate by normal human rules.

In characteristically overblown style, Lagerfeld's Chanel Spring 2012 show involved a vast array of expensive paraphernalia, including but not limited to: a set designed around the theme "under the sea" (but in pure snow white, because colours are gauche), Florence Welch rising out of a giant half-shell to sing during the show, Lagerfeld playing (or perhaps just posing beside) a snow-white harp, and models toting giant iridescent conch-shells. Lagerfeld spits upon the recession. He can't see it through his sunglasses, which are treated so as to only show the rich, the thin, and the monochromatic. The thing that makes Lagerfeld a great designer rather than a mere attention seeker, though, is that while loves nothing more than to make a spectacle of both himself and his catwalk shows, the clothes themselves are the precise opposite of loud.

I'm glad they really hammered home the Under The Sea message, because the sparkly-clean whiteness of the set-design was almost overwhelmingly reminiscent of ice and snow. In close-up shots where Florence Welch and her seashell have been cropped out and all you can see is white dresses and white backdrop, it's hard not to be reminded of all those idiotic "wintry" magazine editorials where a model in a bikini and a fur stole lies supine on an ice-floe while glowering sexily at a snow-leopard or fir tree.

Photos from
"Vanity is the healthiest thing in life"-- Karl Lagerfeld

Monday 10 October 2011

Paris Spring/Summer 2012: Paco Rabanne, Issey Miyake, and Jean Paul Gaultier

This will be a post requiring minimal typing, as I managed to burn two of my fingers sometime around 4am on Sunday morning while on my way out of Glasgow's premiere shitty goth club. A sad cautionary tale to today's youth, indeed. So: pictures.

Paco Rabanne

If the metallic/iridescent look of some of these outfits looks familiar, it's for good reason: the new head designer at Paco Rabanne is Manish Arora, of my first post regarding Thor-themed couture.

1970s glasswear with eyeholes = the best kind of satellite dish/hat?
pics from, btw.
Do you know what I love? Scales. And armour. And clothing that looks like scales or armour. OK, I'm not gonna front: this was an excuse to post a picture of a Silurian. Note to anyone who doesn't watch Doctor Who and therefore doesn't know what a Silurian is: look at your life, look at your choices!

Paco Rabanne; Silurian; Paco Rabanne. AWESOME; AWESOME; AWESOME.

Speaking of Silurians, check out this super-awesome 19th-century Japanese print-style fanart of Madame Vastra and Jenny battling cybermen!

Saturday 8 October 2011

Chinese steampunk action movie; superhero costumes; beautiful menswear; Julia Roberts, Evil Queen; catwalk makeup.

  •  A new black-and-white silent film, set in the jazz age: The Artist (via The Oncoming Hope).
  • Another thing sent to me on Twitter: Jugend und Tolheit, a 1913 film about a woman who crossdresses and joins the army in order to be close to the man she loves. Ffff, I want to see this!
  • BEAUTIFUL NONSENSE: Lily Collins and Julia Roberts as Snow White and the Evil Queen. These gowns are perfectly cartoonish. Also, is that one of Giles Deacon's Spring/Summer 2012 swan hats?
  • Model-Morphosis. Photos of models with a slider to see their faces before and after catwalk makeup has been applied. I was actually surprised to see how little makeup they often seem to be wearing!

Friday 7 October 2011

Paris shows: Yohji Yamamoto, Stella McCartney, Rick Owens, and more.

Yohji Yamamoto

Thanks to Gwen Stefani, I can't see the name Yohji Yamamoto without thinking of the next lyric: "...hanging with the locals" from her somewhat entertaining, somewhat racially suspect Japan-themed solo album. With that out of the way, I can say: Yamamoto is reliably brilliant. He more or less ignores trends and goes on with what he does best: using vast quantities of fabric to swathe models of either gender in charcoal-scribble approximations of suits and ballgowns.

(All other pics are from