Tuesday, July 28, 2009

mad men yorself

When I first tuned in to the AMC show Mad Men, I had a hard time watching it because of the horrible way they treat women in the first few episodes. But the beautiful costumes and sets, as well as just the general retro sexiness of it quickly got me hooked. As the first season developed a lot of the female characters started standing out in interesting and different ways and became very dimensional and strong in the second season. I can't wait till the third season premiers next month. Until then, at least I have this fun little gadget to keep me entertained.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I try to keep this blog strictly academic, focusing on fashion theory and critique. Lately, however, I have been thinking it might be nice to have a creative outlet for my own personal sewing projects, styling and design adventures, etc. I could just start a second blog, but that might leave me with just another domain on the internet that I neglect. If I keep them together perhaps I will end up writing more, even if more of it is fun fluff.

Since I know this matters so much to the three people that read this I ask for your imput!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Lisa Fonssagrives on the Eiffel Tower, Paris 1939, Erwin Blumenfeld

Kate Winslet for Harpers Bazaar, 2009,
Peter Lindbergh

Thursday, July 9, 2009

late night text message

Last night my sister text messaged me at 12:34 am to ask if "flannel was back." I guess the grunge revival that started five years ago has finally gone completely mainstream. Not that my sister is at all mainstream. She just lives in a medium sized town with a lot of malls and has probably never logged onto style.com, she has a punky aesthetic and buys almost all of her clothes at the salvation army, and always looks at me quizzically when I talk about the social implications of high fashion, anti fashion, and mass market consumption.

I guess I better get that thesis written.

Emile de Ravin and Robert Patterson, Image from style.com
Preen Fall 2008 Ready to Wear, image from style.com.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

bankrupt glamour

Lacroix Couture Fall 2009, Images from Style.com

In the last few years we have seen quite a few Edith Beale clones walk down the high fashion runways. Designers are frequently inspired by the reclusive and eccentric mother and daughter duo, first brought to the worlds attention in the 1970s documentary Grey Gardens and agin in the past few years with a Broadway musical and HBO movie based on their lives. Their aristocratic heritage and upbringing combined with mental illness and loss of wealth and a proud refusal to leave their Hamptons mansion resulted in an ecletic and iconic sort of decaying glamour. Yesterday, when Christian Lacroix presented what might be his last couture collection, his models walked down the runway with the same sort of pride that the Beales possessed. A 'we may be broke, but we have more class and refinement than the rest of you and we don't care what you think of us' strut that highlighted the beauty and craftmanship of the couture collection.

The headscarves, the prevalence of black all over coverage, and the historical references of the collection do look like something little Edie Beale might have put together for her wanderings around the grounds of Grey Gardens. However, the similarities are not just the visual. The Beales had existed in quite seclusion while the rest of the world progressed without them, although they had always tryed to break free from the mores of their blue blood family they seemed like holdovers from the past when their story broke in the '70s. Simiarly, for the past 40 years the relevance of the couture industry has been debated. Many have hearlded its death, or argued that couture is necessary to uphold the artistry of fashion and the concept of brands, when most of their income comes from licensing. Perhaps Lacroix was one of the best examples of this, having never even turned a profit in the houses history. But Lacroix is alos one of the last designers and coutuires to have studied under the great couturiers of the 20th century, having worked for Jean Patou before starting his own house in 1987. With last years retirement of Valentino (he worked under Jaque Fath and Cristobal Balenciaga) if Lacroix retires that leave only one designer who learned from the pre-WWII and mid century couturiers Karl Lagerfeld (he worked under Pierre Balmain and Jean Patou, but really made his name in ready to wear not couture).

With the economic woes of the last few years, many have been saying that is is time for the fashion industry to restructure itself, to break away from the luxury and brand name consumption mania that over saturated the early 2000s and return to the artistry of fashion. Perhaps the fact that, despite the "luxury" craze we lived in for so long, true luxury, such as the beauty of a custom made one of a kind couture dress, a wearable work of art, had been forgotten. Lacroix's collection, made entirely by unpaid workers, reminded us of the beauty and the skill and complexity in a couture gown that it is truly a labor of love.