Erin ya Legend

My sister, when trying to get me to watch Blue Valentine, would always argue that while technically it should depress you a lot, it doesn't because the clothes in it are just too good. I eventually got around to seeing it and now wholeheartedly agree. Most girls probably spend half the movie admiring Michelle Williams' threads, and half the time feeling sad, which is a pretty good result overall really. Another movie whose sartorial side I spend a lot of time thinking about is Drive (RyGos again!), and so it makes total sense that both films should have the same costume designer. It was a real 'ah!' moment when I stumbled upon an article on Erin Benach, the genius in question, and her small yet shining resume was revealed.

For Blue Valentine, and I do not say this lightly, the costumes truly helped me understand Williams' character. Good and sweet and vulnerable, but also a bit battered and working class and damaged. Here my words can't really explain it, but the clothes can!

Now for some Drive! A lot of chambray, a lot of sweet-heart necklines, a lot of anguished faces.

The films all have a lot in common, RyGos, bad boys (well, bad RyGos's), vulnerable/tough leading ladies, difficult situations (to put it mildly). But what ties them together in that rather more intangible way, in terms of aesthetic and vibes, are the costumes. Oooh and what do we have here? Another RyGos turn as a bad boy? More Benach? Only the trailer and a few screen shots are out, but I already feel with The Place Beyond the Pines we've got another film to sit quite nicely alongside these other two.

boy these images are from all over the show, uhhh...
a couple from Erin Benach's own website
lots from this great hi-def screen cap site


Take me Back to '06

Guys, Louis Vuitton this season reminded me what it was like to be 14 again and totally excited about, totally falling in love with fashion for the first time. Looking at the show I was back in February 2006; youtube was brand new and my 14-year-old self was completely transfixed by Marc Jacob's Fall 2006 show video. I'd never looked at a whole collection before and the knitted mushroom hats, the plaid, the strange layering and silhouettes and the mixes of flannel and sequins were all both completely new and utterly intoxicating. There was a theatrical element to that collection, the clothes dealt more with fantasy than reality perhaps (completely unlike the clothes populating my second-to-last post), and rather than simply existing unto themselves, everything was a signifiier for something else. I saw grunge in the plaid (obviously) and that particular early 00s feminist spirit in those sequins. These deeper elements have always gotten me most excited about fashion, despite striving to be more aloof and sophisticated at times - although at these moments as consolation I tell myself that these are the sorts of collections that Grace Coddington loves too.

Nothing has been as exciting as that Marc Jacob's collection in a long time. But MJ has done it again, and Louis Vuitton was super exhilirating. Like stage clothes but not, they conjure up images of so much. If you've never seen Belle de Jour before, if you know nothing about femme fatales and Catharine Deneuve and even, I don't know, France and French ladies, and nothing about simultaneously empowering and self-objectifying sexuality, then I believe you could understand it all just by watching this collection. Or if we were to avoid exaggeration, you could at least begin to understand all of these things in that hard-to-pin-down aesthetic and vibey way.

In fact I'm going to argue that Jacobs was even more successful than Prada at giving us not just clothes but a story and a plot. Every reviewer for Prada went on about the set and show atmosphere, which leads me to think that perhaps it was the whole experience that was more successful than the collection itself, and it was the experience that intoxicated those reviewers present. Because Prada's clothes were not nearly as evocative and in tune with the overall mood as these.

But gosh the collection requires multiple viewings, if only to nut around how Jacobs has covered the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s and managed to make it so specifically cohesive. Speaking of the 70s, I love the conversations that inevitably occur between Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton each season. In fact I didn't click with MJ until I saw LV. I wasn't feeling that collection at all, and now some of the looks are my favourite of the season. Dance and sequins and Minnelli and fur and v-necks, of course!

But back to Louis V., this is the kind of collection that makes me want fashion to slow down. As sure as night follows day come September, Spring 2014 will show, and all attention will turn to what Jacobs does next. Winter 2013 will be old news. But I don't want it to be old news! I want magazines to be writing about it and photographing it for years to come! I want people to stew and find new ways to interpret the marabou trimmed coats and floor-skimming slips! Plz can it just be forever?

You were thinking this was going to be a Jacobs-exclusive post weren't you? Ha! I'm going to throw in some Marni seemingly last minute to stir things up a bit. Because there were some wonderful similarities between Marni and Louis V. You may remember that last season Marni had a transformation of sorts. Critics liked to say that the house had "grown up" but I didn't believe that becoming more restrained and comparatively minimal constitutes growing up, and besides, I liked the old Marni better. Or so I thought! I can now stop complaining about Marni's new look (to deaf ears, mind you), because boy was Winter 2013 wonderful. A lot of what I said about Louis Vuitton applies here. Although because this is Milan, not Paris or New York, the moodiness is a touch darker, and a touch more earnest.

Folk tales and bears in the woods and all that. Highlights including massive fur stoles dyed in a moody rainbow of colours, topped off by dripping-blood lips and sensible sandals.

Oh, and by the way, this is my 100th post! Happy blog day! Or something. To celebrate, a fitting celebratory image.


Karl Lagerfeld Film Challenge

I have nothing against Karl Lagerfeld, but his short films are the absolute worst. I mean worst, and I do not say that lightly, I have seen a lot of bad stuff in my time. Having said that, there is a special kind of enjoyment in experiencing something like "Remember Now", an enjoyment akin to watching a particularly scary horror film or eating a particularly sour gummy worm. It's all about how much you can take, how long you can keep your eyes open, how long you can last. The longest I have been able to watch a Karl Lagerfeld movie straight is 2 minutes. I challenge you to beat that.


Form v Narrative

Like other art forms, film or literature or comics, fashion is a balance of both form and narrative. Obviously fashion adds function to the mix (we wear this stuff right?), but we'll ignore that element for the time being. I've already discussed on this blog how Japonisme is so hot right now, but how designers utilize this influence varies wildly, and can have a lot to do with whether the story or the form is the driving factor. Prada Spring 2013 was about the woman, somewhat of an enigma as usual, a feminist, and a Murakami heroine in spirit whose personalities were expounded on in the campaign video (which I am still watching because I am sure I am still missing something). On the other hand we have The Row, which often looks to Japan, but the Winter 2013 collection was restricted to exploring the formal properties of Japanese dress, reconstructed for the Upper East Side sensibility.

In fact The Row weren't the only ones feelin' form, Winter 2013 was a veritable feast of collections which celebrated only that which could be seen. The clothes existed on purely physical, touchable and gazeable terms, and how gloriously they did. And for a city that, in general, usually bores me, Milan did exceptionally well.

How often does MaxMara grab any critic's attention? But this season they were a mega player. The genius of MaxMara lay in the pure pleasure of browns and black and gold mixed together, of layers upon layers of fur and satin and what appeared to be luxurious polar fleece. All high concepts were absent, background stories replaced with absolute mountains of fabric draped off the body. To look through the slide show of the MaxMara collection is to feel satisfied, gratified. I can only imagine what it would have been like to see the clothes in person.

Then we had the Giambattista Valli and Francesco Scognamiglio collections which were explorations into white, fur, and white fur. I mean this stuff is the opposite of Prada, and Louis Vuitton, in the best way possible.

But if one had to pick a champion of the gloriously constructed, the absolutely straightforward, the resolutely beautiful, Hermes was it. This is a bold claim, but I'm willing to back it up.

Exhibit A: a perfect navy suit was shown not once, but six times. Here are three. When was the last time I saw a pant suit executed perfectly? I cannot remember. Maybe it was with Yves Saint Laurent, but I was not  alive then.

Exhibit B: note the subtly exact use of colour. No shade of brown or browny green was shown twice, yet as a whole the collection's palette was wonderfully coherent. Side Note: even the navy suits didn't all use the same shade of navy.

Exhibit C: a part from the piping, and perfect drape, what unites these looks is that I sigh when I see them. Can I look at them forever? For once the real life clothes are as elegant as their sketches.

all images from vogue.com