Thursday, September 28, 2006

Project Runway -- Uli über Alles

This was the episode that was to decide which three designers would get runway shows at Olympus Fashion Week (which we all know was two weeks ago). It was another anti-climax: the judges decided that all four should go, but in fact four ALWAYS show, one is just a decoy. Last season, however, the decoy, Kara Janx, sent out a collection that the fashion press dubbed the winner. I assume that the judges learned something from that, and rather than suffer the embarassment of making a bad choice, they let everyone play.

The challenge was to create a garment for Elle Magazine's First Look page. The look was to be "editorial," meaning, apparently, that the garment is photogenic and totally unwearable. The designers were to make a garment that would be representative of their Fashion Week collection yet shows the judges the designers could step out of their respective design boxes -- enough mixed signals, ya think?

As with every other final episode, the designers basically collapsed. Jeffrey designed a dress with an interesting bubble skirt and a wonky bodice. He was chided for stepping out of his box too much, although I bet that if he had made the dress all white his design would have received a warmer reception. A warmer reception from me, anyway, because then you couldn't see the weird top-stitching around the neckline. Laura made her usual lace and drippy-bead cocktail dress. She was chided for not stepping out of her box enough. Michael planned a gown with a complicated woven bodice, and got screwed when something like six hours was shaved off the designer's prep time so they could go out and take pictures of their outfits. His garment looked like it only had half a front. He was chided for doing a gown when his forte is sportswear. Uli started out making her usual Uli dress, got stuck, got unstuck when she wripped the oversized pattern on her fabric in half, and made the pictured vintage-inspired dress in about two hours. She even put a modified Watteau train -- actually more like a Watteau panel -- in the back. The judges loved it, I loved it, she won this challenge. I didn't notice until I saw the still photos that the beaded trim on the front oddly extends beyond the hem of the dress. Ah well, no one's perfect, especially on PR.

Uli, however, also incurred the ire of millions of viewers when she "stole" audience-favorite Michael's model Nazri. She was voted auf in the live poll during the show (although how "live" it is to Pacific time viewers is debatable). Humph, people, it's all about the dress!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Devil can HAVE this Prada!

Good grief, I take my eye off the fashion ball for a week and look what happens! Miuccia Prada loses her f**king mind! I know she's been prattling about abandoning the lady-like look for a while, but does the substitute have to be teenage anorexic hooker, demented granny-pants wearer, or crafter with OCD?
What's the deal, Miuccia, lots of us LIKE looking like ladies, or at LEAST some of like keeping the icy winds sweeping down the Sierra off our booties!!!

If her collection, filled with tootie-baring ultra mini skirts, catches on, the paparazzi will have a field day. No more waiting for Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton to get out of a car in order to catch that elusive hairless beaver shot!* (I'll spare you links to those shots; not only are they NSFW, they're positively traumatizing.) Because you know that our slutty young actresses and socialite celebutants are not going to be wearing granny pants like the Prada models.

And speaking of granny pants: the Prada high-waisted half-leotards or whatever the hell they're called are probably the best example I've seen lately of Why High Waists Are Bad. And where exactly would one wear this? Oh, I know I know, we'll see Fergie the former Pea wearing it on the red carpet any day now.

Oh, and check out the turbans. Y'know, I actually like turbans for, like, Norma Desmond role-playing days, but these things have eau du bad hair all over them.

Then, THEN, Prada delivers dresses that look like someone gave Angela, the Project Runway contestant with the "fleurchon" obsession, a glue-gun and unlimited time. Oy vey! Who is it, exactly, who wants to appear at an event looking like a toilet paper cozy tatted by a particularly demented maiden aunt?

Miuccia's still designing some seriously gorgeous shoes, though.

*I shudder to think what Google will bring me for using that phrase, but that's about as polite as I can get.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

London Fashion Week -- say hello again to Biba.

I can't really say much about London Fashion Week because I don't know the designers. I can, though, jump up and down and point to the return of Biba, which was "the fashion house of Swinging London in the 60s and 70s." You can read about Biba's history, and its designer, Barbara Hulanicki at Pari's Biba Site. The site has a gallery of vintage Biba, too, that hints at the fabulosity that was. I particularly like this purple dress. (Blogger has been a bitch about loading photos lately, so please forgive all the links.)

The new Biba's collection isn't a complete triumph as far as this vintage-lover is concerned. The white dress at left (which is not shown well on the super-skinny corpse-pale model) is the most Bibaesque of the collection. I hope the new version of Biba sticks to its roots and manages to achieve fabulosity that is.

If you'd like to read more about Biba and London Fashion Week, drop in on the Catwalk Queen.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

And the winner is -- Betsey Johnson?

I've always felt that Betsey Johnson's designs were too young for me -- even when she was selling stuff out of "Betsey Bunki Nini" in 1969, and I was *mumble mumble* teen. But now that she's a grandma (Betsey took her Fashion Week bow carrying her infant granddaughter, I'm guessing she skipped the cartwheel) she's surrendered to maturity, and heck, produced some clothes I'd wear now.

I'd wear the very Ceil Chapman-looking gray-and-white print dress knee-length; I'd wear the pale-green 40s-style swing dress as is; I don't know if I'd wear the pink and white dress but damn, ain't it cute? It doesn't look like it was designed for a 14-year-0ld streetwalker with a Flashdance fetish, either. This strapless white dress is so uncharacteristically elegant it look like the model wandered in from another show.

Of course, she's still Betsey, so her collection still includes hooker hotpants, rompers (who thinks these are a good idea for females over age 4?) and bloomers. Mama mia. But those trademark lapses in taste are balanced by little black dresses that are definitely meant for grown up women.

New York Magazine has Betsey listed as one of their "most popular" shows. I thinking a whole lot of people are tuning in to make sure it's true that Betsey produced such a good-looking and well-received collection.

Mazel tov, Betsey, may you be blessed with many more grandbabies and may you bless us with some more pretty dresses.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Holy carp! Look at this dress!

Alas, the photos of on this site are protected, so I can't post one (not the best marketing strategy, hello!) but day-um, is this dress for sale at Blue Velvet Vintage not one of the best dang balloon dresses you've ever seen?

Update: Teresa at Blue Velvet Vintage kindly told me how to grab a picture of the dress, and here it is in all it's purple, blue and green glory. As an extra special touch, the neckline of the dress is outlined with appliqued cut-out roses. Ain't it grand?

Vintage styles on Project Runway's runway.

I'm not going to write about PR Episode 11 in any detail because I didn't like it. It was too full of gimmicks -- returning auf'd designers, black-and-white only palette, instructions to use every scrap of material instructions -- and the resulting garments were awful. As the series progresses you can see the fatigue setting in, and I don't expect the garments produced in next week's episode to be any better. But most of all, whatever is produced on the shows is old news because New York runway shows for the final four designers has already taken place, and those are the garments that count.

You can see the four collections at NY Magazine Online. From the photos, I liked the viewer-selected evil Jeffrey Sebelia's collection best. Then I saw about 60 seconds of video on the Style Channel's fashion week coverage, and I thought Michael Knight's collection looked best, even though I thought the same stuff looked terribly hoochie-mama in the still photographs. I'm sure the judges, who get to see the collections close-up and personal, will see something entirely different from what the rest of PR world sees (gawd knows they have all season) and pluck a winner out of the air. What evah.

The collections caught my attention for two reasons: the vintage references, and the attention to current trends. In the first two seasons the designers made clothes as if they lived in a vacuum. This season, at least they did a few things "real" designers were doing, like using lots of white and metallics. Hey, if Marc Jacobs does it, it must be good, right?

Vintage is a trend, too, and it was the vintage inspired dresses that really "turned me on," to borrow one of Vinsane's vintage expressions. In the pictures at left, from top to bottom, there's Michael Knight doing YSL safari, Vincent Sebelia doing 50s New Look, Uli Herzner doing 1960s Mod and 1970s disco caftan. Wheee! What a treat!

I don't think I've seen anyone who's chosen Uli as the winner of PR because she's been making the same kind of dress all season, but win/lose/schmooze, I bet her dresses will sell like crazy. Her designs have "Rachel Zoe" written all over them, and I can so see Nicole, Lindsay, Mary Kate, Nicki blah blah blah wearing them. In fact, I would LOVE to see the aforementioned persons wearing Uli -- well, maybe not, there'd be a lot less material for the Fug Girls.

There was a fourth collection, by super-mom Laura Bennett, but I found it more Morticia Addams than anything else and -- well, that's all I have to say about it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Vintage Styles at New York Fashion Week, Part 3 -- The circus has come to town!

In the late 1950s, the French called it the trapeze, in the 1960s the Americans called it the tent, your Mom may have called it a muu-muu, whatever, it's baaaaaaaaack. The billowy dress, fitted at the shoulder and straight down and out from there.

According to Fashion-Era:

"The Trapeze dress was a swinging dress almost triangular in shape and designed to be worn with low shoes and bouffant hairstyles. Over the years it too was modified into the short baby doll tent style making the 60's version. A shaped Tent dresses with cutaway armholes were an alternative look of the sixties."

This dress the dream of every pregnant woman and perfect for hot summer days and nights. It's also totally without sex appeal, unless it's worn really short, which is how it was originally worn, with tights or panties, not a thong, otherwise the wearer can kiss her dignity good-bye at the first gust of wind.

And you can be pretty darn sure that if Diane von Furstenberg is wearing a trapeze this week, Mrs. Jones will be wearing one next Spring.

Both of the dresses pictured here are DVF, but were multple trapeze dresses in most of the collections, many plainly referencing the 60s. The pink, white and orange DVF looks like it came out of a time-capsule from 1966.

There are always lots of vintage trapeze/tent dress patterns on e-bay. The Simplicity pattern pictured here is from Macojero's Sewing Patterns and she's got more, featuring tents that are little more than A-frames to tents full enough to hold the Ringling Bros. circus. I think older and larger women who want to test drive a tent dress should probably stick to a more tailored versions, to avoid those "when's the baby due," questions. And we don't want anyone to look like she's wearing a tent dress because she has no alternative. Otherwise I think we should all loosen our waistbands and enjoy!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Vintage Influences for Spring 2007, Part 2 -- The 20s in 2007

Thank the Gods of Fashion, designers have finally gotten over the plunging-v-neck, empire waist, totally unwearable by me, silhouette they've featured for the last few seasons. And seeking to stimulate business as all fashion designers do, they've dropped the waistline from right under the armpits to right at the hips so that fashionistas everywhere will scurry to the stores for the latest thing.

In the case of the drop-waist dresses, the latest thing is about 80 years old, but that's just fine with me. I'm a total 20s freak, and in particular, a 20s American ex-pat in Paris freak ("A Moveable Feast," YES! "Babylon Revisited," YES! "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle," YES!) so I love any garment with a hint of flapper. And considering that most vintage garments from the 20s are too fragile or too rare to really wear (I can imagine myself now, dropping spaghetti sauce on the front of a 1920s silk frock, and subsequently dropping dead in shock) a modern reproduction is a great alternative.

The top white dress is from Tracy Reese. I'm a Tracy Reese fan; she always does colorful, feminine clothes, and they're fairly available online and at better department stores. Her collection this spring was full of 20s-influenced styles.

The embroidered black and silver robe de style is from Reem Acra, a designer of high-end wedding and red-carpet gowns, If she's making drop-waist dresses, we can expect to see some on celebrities soon, and I hope they get a pass from the tits-and-ass obsessed fashion police.

The apple-green dress is from BCBG. This dress is kind of 80s (off the shoulder) meets 20s, but I was attracted to it because of the color. I'm drawn to bright apple greens like a moth to flame, and like flame, they're no good for me. Not for nothing is that color also called poison green -- I put it on and I immediately look like a victim of liver failure. But still I it calls to me, like Nimue calling to Merlin. Cooooooooooooome . . . touch the greeeeeeeeen . . .

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Vintage styles at New York Fashion Week, Part 1

There have been lots and lots of vintage looks at the Spring 2007 shows in New York this week. There are many 20s-style drop-waist dresses and there's been wholesale plundering of 60s styles in the form of trapeze (aka tent) dresses, neat little Jackie dresses, and ethnic-style tunics, two of which are shown at left -- the paler one is from Nicole Miller, the bottom one is from Diane von Furstenberg.

I love the tunic look -- what could be nicer than a neat little pull-over shift? They're versatile, too: tunics, unlike dresses, can be worn over pants without making the wearer look like a doofus, because after all, that's how tunics were meant to be worn. They'd look equally good worn over leggings (I hate footless leggings, but I know when I've lost the fashion battle), and as shown, they make nifty little dresses. I would wear mine longer, having worn it short the first time around, but I think this is actually a style that could be recycled in spite of the admonition that if you're old enough to wear a style the first time around, you should wear it on its revival. Tunics have been worn for thousands of years, after all.

There are often vintage tunic patterns for sale, some of which look darn similar to the dresses shown here. There are contemporary patterns for kurtas available too. So it's fairly easy for you sewists to get a current look at a fraction of the price of a designer dress, and that's always a good thing, isn't it?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Following New York Fashion Week

There's going to be lots of coverage, of course, but I recommend the Fashion Week coverage in New York Magazine. Nice, big, clear pictures from the collections. The orange outfit at left is from Verrier, who, according to NYM, is going "back to the 40s," which in my book is not bad at all. And that's not all -- the Fug Girls are contributing to NYM's column Show & Talk. Whoo hoo! Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a funny ride!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Project Runway -- sweatin' like a whore in church.

Whew! Episode 9 was another entertaining installment of PR, even though its required "uncomfortable moment" was perhaps the most uncomfortable of the season. That moment occurred when Vinsane, whom Laura aptly dubbed "a legend in his own mind" hit on French judge Catherine Maladrino in the most spectacular demonstration of poor judgment in PR history. She not only had the power of PR life or death over him but she also looks like she could knock him into the middle of next week. Unfortunately, while she exercised the former course of action (by writing "no, no, no, no, no" all over his evaluation card) she refrained from the latter, thus depriving reality TV of one spectacular smackdown. The end result was satisfying, though, Vincent, at long last, was auf'd.

Vincent's EW exit interview is a riot. Can you say clueless? I knew you could!

The challenge this week took place in Paris. The designers were instructed to make a garment using couture techniques -- i.e., hand finishing (Vincent used glue, but he DID do it by hand) -- in two days. The Paris runway show took place at a party on a boat traveling the Seine, truly idyllic except for the kid who threw an egg at the designers and beschmirched Michael's dress. We weren't told whether that was a political statement or not.

Po' preggers Laura (sweetie, there's a reason they call it Planned Parenthood) was almost auf'd for producing a dress Nina called "old St. Laurent." Oh, you've got it wrong again, Nina! It wasn't old St. Laurent, it was rather recent Chanel from the 2006 Resort Collection. (The top black dress is Laura's, the bottom, Chanel's). Whatever, it was another breast-bone exposing, pneumonia-inviting v-necked black sheath Laura dress. Bor-ing.

Jeffrey won by making a yellow plaid dress that looked like the bastard couture child of Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. It was a dress that only fashionistas could love, and the judging group of fashionistas did just that.

Kayne made an asymetrical strapless gown that looked like a very good version of Wendy Pepper's Season 1 wedding dress, right down to the corset with curvature of the spinal lacing. (The gold dress is Kayne's, the dress that looks like it's made out of bedsheets is Wendy's.) I'm surprised that I haven't seen any other comments about the similarities, but of course I haven't read every. single. PR. post. yet, and I probably won't. The fact that Kayne's dress was actually fit his model and didn't fall apart when she walked down the runway probably obscured the resemblance, too.

I liked Uli's dress the best. Sure it was another one of her signature flowing empire-waist dresses, but it was pretty, and I'm a slut for pretty.

Poor Michael had his first crisis of confidence during this challenge: it was he who announced to all that he was "sweatin' like a whore in church" during the final runway show. The dress he produced reflected it. The garment was a clunky ruched dress that featured what I can only describe as cinnabon-shaped breast lids. This, after Malan's disaster, should be a lesson to all future PR contestants: NO MORE RUCHING, EVER!

I thought it was too bad that Angela couldn't participate in this challenge, since its focus was hand-crafting and finishing. She could have fleurchoned the ass out of some dress -- and ruffly flower-like ornaments actually seem to be a trend, as the white Armani Privé dress at left shows -- and her excess would have been completely appropriate. But then I would have had to put up with her perkiness for another week or two. Damn the fleurchons! Full speed ahead!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

And once more from the 30s --

Yes folks, I have another interest that's sailing close to becoming an obsession. It's the bias-cut 30s dress, a garment I can't really wear considering that corseted and structured 50s looks suit my semi-zaftig figure much better.

But look at this ruffled, tucked, bias beauty. It's for sale at Dandelion Vintage (scroll down), alas, for me, in size small. I hope some nice lady with a slender-hipped Depression era figure gives this dress a good home.

TV fashion alerts

Yes folks, there's clothing-related TV beyond Project Runway. Starting tomorrow, Thursday September 7, at 8 p.m. (the website neglects to say whether that's 8 p.m. Eastern only) the Sundance Channel will be showing "signé Chanel," which follows the creation of a couture collection for Chanel. Be warned, there will be lots of the "evil one," aka Karl Lagerfeld, but I'm also hoping there will be lots of the actual work, too. Starting Friday, September 8, the Style Network will be showing "Seventh Avenue specials, original programming, special installments of your favorite shows and hours of footage featuring the best-received looks and most celebrated celebrity appearances." In other words, lots of filler in between, if we're lucky, video of the actual runway action. Check out and in case the channels deign to supply us with more details.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Magazine weight lifting.

Labor Day is the official end of the summer season, but I think the season actually ends when the ginormous September Issues of "W" and "Vogue" arrive. Even though I now follow the collections online, and therefore see fashion six months before it hits the stores, I still drop everything to pour over the September issues to divine what the fashon editors have decreed to be the latest trends and to see what I mostly won't be wearing this autumn.

This issue of Vogue has an article entitled "What's your shape?" in which, according to Vogue, "six real world women wear the look that suits them best. Which one are you?" But the introduction should really have read "Six fashion world womenwear the looks that suit them best. You most probably aren't one of them," because, day-um, the six women (mostly ex-models) all look uniformly tall and skinny to me, whether labeled "exclamation point," "X," or "hourglass" by the tunnel visioned editors of Vogue. I'm not a campaigner for fat acceptance or anything (larger ladies, I know there's more of you to love, but you know that too much more might kill you) but not even ex-models approach reality in my little world.

However, it's really the ads that bulk this issue of Vogue up to 754 pages, and I think the ads are more interesting than the photo features because they show what's available to peons like us. There are pages of ads from Target (Isaac, you done good this season, I am loving these shoes), Dillard's and *ugh* Wal-Mart. From these ads I've deduced, without even putting on my Sherlock hat, there there's going to be a lot of black on the racks: black dresses, black tights, black leggins, and black skinny pants. Can't say that I'm surprised by the funereal look, but it doesn't stir my orange/purple/fuchia loving soul. There are also a lot of oversize sweaters -- many with cowl necks, thank you very much Nina Garcia. This look available at Dillards is representative. for eye candy, lots of 30s-inspired chiffon evening gowns. Ahhh . . . eye candy!

The top gown is from Gucci, and is or will be available at Nieman-Marcus for those with lots of expendable income. The vintage purple floral bias cut dress is for sale at Woodland Farms and Vintage. I posted its picture because I think it's pretty and because it's a great example of the type of 30's floral dress I was talking about in this post. Happy fall shopping, y'all!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Project Runway -- back to normal, whatever that is!

Okay, Episode 8 was fun. What a relief.

The challenge was to create an outfit for an international jetsetter (although the sublime Tim Gunn neglected to mention that the garment was to be worn while the jetsetter was on the actual jet.) The additional twist was that the designers were to be the jetsetters, and they had to make the garments for themselves and then model it.

It was immediately apparent that the designers knew no more than I about the dress and habits of international jetsetters. (Whenever I hear "jetsetter" I think of Elizabeth Taylor in The VIPs , a movie made in, uh, 1963. Hers was a great look if you're into lots of eyeliner and towers of hair.) In fact, some of the designers had never traveled out of the U.S. As a result, they produced a bizarre assortment of garments, Angela's, of course, the most bizarre. She made walking shorts out of a guaranteed-to-wrinkle maroon silk-linen blend fabric, and she stuck her "fleurchons" all over the back of them so it looked like she had drawn a target on each ass cheek. The bizarre shorts also gave her rear-end camel toe, which I've never seen before and I hope never to see again.

Only Vinsane's garments, a plain black jersey and loose black pants, looked like something a real person would wear when traveling. And travel he did, with the rest of the designers, to Parson's in Paris. There they had the privilege of being abused by real designer Catherine Maladrino (Tim said they had to shoot the elimination six times because she said such harsh things to the bottom two). Jeffrey won for producing a great jacket, a tee-shirt adorned with a rhinestone skull, and legging-like pants that had some shiny, scary metallic objects closing the fly. Angela was auf'd, the remaining designers stay in Paris for the next challenge, and all is almost right with the world.

The problem? There are six designers and two or three challenges left, but NY Fashion Week starts September 9, so once again we'll know who the final 4 designers are and the finale will be an anti-climax AGAIN. Can't the damn producers use a calendar?

On the subject of clothes people would really wear, aka real clothes: way back in episode 4 designer Bonnie Dominguez was auf'd for producing, among other things, a cowl-neck tunic. "Who uses a cowl neck anymore?" asked dragon-lady judge Nina Garcia just before she lowered the boom on poor sweet Bonnie. Well, if you shop at Bergdorf-Goodman, lots of designers do. That would be designers like Temperley, Stella McCartney, TSE cashmere, Derek Lam, and eskandar. These cowl-necked items would probably make a much better traveling outfit than anything the PR gang produced this week. Whatever -- no one ever said reality TV has to be real.