Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Emmys: Whatever

The Emmy Awards were broadcast last Sunday, and I actually managed to sit through E!’s entire, entirely boring, red carpet show. I never thought I say this, but boy, do I miss Joan and Melissa. And Isaac Mizrahi, and Kathy Griffin, and anyone who isn’t that boring waxworks homunculus omni-host Ryan Seacrest. Those shows only really work when spiced with snark. But speaking of Kathy Griffin:

Kathy Griffin

It’s bad enough that her dress looked like it was made out of Grandma’s drapes, but look at the hem!!!! It looks like someone needed to shorten it in a hell of a hurry and used glue, or else the dress was REALLY made from drapes and someone forgot to take the weights out of the hem.

If a Project Runway designer sent a dress down the runway finished like that s/he'd be sliced and diced by Nina Garcia and then auf'd. So who let Kathy out of the house that way?

As for the rest of the fashion parade, I didn’t see anyone dressed ridiculously, but I didn’t love the same things that the Fashion Police and the voting public loved, and I liked some things that a lot of commentators hated. I attribute this difference of opinion to my ability to rise above the rabble and independently apply my own innate good taste, not to mention that my inner crotchety old maid more and more dictates how I view clothes.

For example, most people raved about Brooke Shield’s fuschia Badgely Mischka dress and Heidi Klum’s sparkly Armani PrivĂ© number.

Brook Shields in Badgely Mischka

Heidi Klum in Armani Prive

I think the Badgely Mischka dress is a bit too young, too prom, and too fussy, and I don’t like asymmetry in clothing , even in Armani, so even though Brooke and Heidi don’t look bad by any means, I just can’t get excited about their looks.

Christina Applegate in Reem Acra

My favorite look was Christina Applegate in a Reem Acra gown, which surprised me because I often think Reem Acra’s dresses are too bridal (she started as a wedding gown designer) and, having just said I don’t like asymmetry, this dress is asymmetrical. One of E!’s fashion police thought the look was too old for her, so maybe it’s the crotchety old maid who likes the way Christina looks. Maybe I’m giving Christina points for being a cancer survivor, at any rate, I like it.

Then I liked, or at least didn’t hate, some looks the Fashion Police and other so-called experts absolutely loathed.

Mary-Louise Parker in Roberto Cavalli

Emilie De Ravin in Matthew Williamson

Poor Mary-Louise Parker; she took a lot of criticism for her Roberto Cavalli gown. I'm not crazy about the color, but the gown is basically a slip dress with a little bit of ruching. Considering some of the hot messes Robert Cavalli produces, this garment is downright restrained. Mary-Louise has the body for it, too. So why all the hating?

I also rather liked the Mathew Williamson gown worn by Emilie de Ravin. The dress had a lovely classical look, flowed nicely when she walked, and it was, at least, not another damn strapless mermaid gown. The Fashion Police worked themselves into a tizzy over the sparkly trim. In spite of urging women to take fashion risks, the clothes critics are awfully intolerant of those who do.

Vanessa Williams in Kevan Hall

I haven’t made up my mind about Vanessa William’s Kevan Hall dress; I like the print, it’s different, but that rhinestone strip annoys me.


You can see Emmy Red Carpet photos at Yahoo TV and Style.com.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Clothes on TV alert: "Ralph Rucci: a Man and His House" on the Sundance Channel

Chado Ralph Rucci Spring 2009

The Sundance Channel will be broadcasting a profile of Ralph Rucci, a designer known for his very elegant, very expensive and very exclusive clothing. According to the October edition of W magazine, the prices for his clothing can reach $32,000 for an off-the-rack coat "albeit one crafted to perfection from exquisite materials." That article goes on to say the prices of his made-to-measure clothing can "exceed six figures at the drop of a hat." Rucci is not a household name because he doesn't cater to the young or to the red-carpet crowd, instead, his clothes are purchased, or rather collected, the "sophisticated, rich adults who can afford to buy his clothes." One of those, I reckon, would be Martha Stewart, who narrates the Sundance profile.

Interestingly, when I did an internet search on Ralph Rucci before writing this up, I found his name among the guests at a cocktail party Vogue magazine gave for Michele Obama, and who coughed up from $1,000 to $10,000 for the privilege of attending. Bless; I don't see Michele among the customers for his clothing, give their price and these times. In fact, I hope their remains a market for Rucci's designs after the recent crash, because they're quite remarkable, and, given the level of craftsmanship involved, the garments are probably worth the price.

Anyway, tune in if you want to see how the other 1/4 of 1% dresses. The profile airs at 7:00 p.m. PT on Monday, September 22, 2008, check http://www.sundancechannel.com/ for the air time in your area.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Trends, New York Fashion Week, Spring 2009

I've scanned enough of the Spring 2009 collections to notice some trends, in fact, some disturbing trends. They are, in no special order:

Isaac Mizrahi Spring 2009

Cropped "Hammer" pants. These things are all over the collections, and they're just what every woman needs: trousers that make it look like she's smuggling cheesecakes strapped to her hips and thighs.

Bell or tulip-shapped skirts. More saddlebags!!!

Jumpsuits. Unlike the Fug Girls, I'm not opposed to jumpsuits in principle (after all, Emma Peel wore them!!!) but c'mon, does the average non-super-spy woman want to completely undress every time she goes to the bathroom? I think not.

The persistence of "formal" shorts. Oh well, I suppose they make some sense in a Spring/Summer collection -- for 15-year-olds!

One-shouldered or one-sleeve dresses. I get the one-shoulder thing -- goddess dresses, etc., but, one sleeve??? Ehhh . . .

Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2009

Marc Jacobs Spring 2009

The predominant retro-reference is to the rich-hippie looks of the late '60s, early 70s, which is fine by me. At Diane von Furstenberg, in case anyone didn't get it, the models even wore flowers in their hair, like they were going to San Francisco in 1968. Mark Jacobs did a collection that referenced Morocco, 19th Century French peasant girls, and the 1940s. I interpreted this collection as homage to Saint Laurent, who was also inspired by those things, although YSL never used them all in one garment.

The trends I liked were the use of mixed prints, bright colors (lots of orange!!!) and big zippers. My favorite collections so far were Monique Lhullier, Narcisco Rodriguez and Dennis Basso, because, should I win the lottery, I could actually wear pieces from those collections. YMMV.

Monday, September 08, 2008

New York Fashion Week = sensory overload

Isaac Mizrahi, Spring 2009

It's only a few days into New York Fashion Week, the first event in Worldwide Fashion Month, and already I'm overwhelmed. It seems like the number of runway shows increases exponentially with every season, making it impossible for any normal person, i.e., one with a non-fashion job, a house to clean and pets to feed, even to flip through all the designer slideshows on Style.com or nymag.com. I can't even keep up with the Fug Girls' reports at New York Fugging City, but that might be because I have to stop to google three-quarters of the "celebrities" they write about. Really, why are the stars of Gossip Girl everywhere, and why should I care?

The slideshows at New York Magazine are fun because they let you label every look "fabulous" or "hideous," but that scale would be a lot more useful if they added a third category, "meh." Because when there are thousands of looks going down the runway, you can bet there's going to be a lot of "meh."

Project Runway fans have already realized that, once again, the finalists (or three finalists and one decoy) will have their well-publicized shows weeks before the episode in which they're chosen is broadcast. Way to go, Bravo!

What (Not) to Wear to a Funeral

Last winter, when I was attending way too many family funerals, I thought about writing a post about modern mourning attire, or rather, the lack thereof. Today, there are no rules about what a member of the deceased family should wear, no family dressmakers who will rush over and sew up a year's worth of black clothing overnight, no funeral department at the local Tar-zhay where a person can pick up something suitable in a spare half-hour between picking out a plot and ordering the coffin. You'd be surprised how hard it is to find a plain black day dress when you need one. I found mine at T.J. Maxx, and this is pretty much it, or the current season's version of it. When I wore it with a black jacket I felt pretty presentable.

After the last funeral of the series I gave up on the idea of a post about mourning attire as too grim and self-centered. I also concluded that it's probably better, more democratic, and certainly more economical, if people can pay their respects wearing their everyday clothes. After all, it is the substance of their respect that's important, not the symbol.

One would assume, however, that there are still rules, protocol, in fact, that apply to official mourners like ambassadors and First Ladies. One would also assume that official mourners would have the resources to obtain the appropriate clothing at a moment's notice. And one might assume that the First Lady of France, the former model Carla Bruni Sarkozy, representing her country at the funeral of Yves Saint Laurent, one of the 20th Century's great couturiers, would appear at the memorial in an outfit doing credit to both her country and his memory.

One would be wrong about Madame Sarkozy.

Okay, her jacket is probably an original YSL smoking. Her pants might also be YSL, but they're creased and look a trifle too small, like she had fished them out of a bag containing clothes from her old modeling days and pulled them on, unpressed. And even if Madame Sarkozy has the best rack of any First Lady since the Empress Theodora, she should have worn a bra. It was a freakin' funeral, for the love of Pete.

The oddest thing about the way she appeared at this event is that Madame Sarkozy usually dresses very well indeed.

How to say "oh, honey, no," in French

After I found the above photo i whipped out my 1964 edition of Elegance, A Complete Guide for Every Woman Who Wants to be Well and Properly Dressed on all Occasions by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux. If you're a fan of chicklit, you might have come across the novel Elegance that was inspired by Madame Dariaux's Guide. The Guide is better. Anyway, considering all Madame Dariaux has to say about everything else, her comments about funeral wear were rather short. Some excerpts from the one-page entry:

A woman who attends a funeral dressed in a conspicuous manner shows proof of a total lack of good taste and good manners. Even if you are not a member of the immediate family, you should dress in black, or at least in whatever you own that is most dark and neutral, and you should wear no makeup. During the course of a year it is unfortunately likely that you will be obliged to attend a funeral ceremony, and you should prepare for this eventuality in planning your wardrobe, just as you prepare for the luncheon and dinner invitations you expect to receive.

The best choice, aside from a black suit of wool in the winter and linen in the summer, is a dark gray flannel ensemble, both worn with a black hat, gloves, shoes, and bag. . . .

Well, with the exception of the hat, at least I'm prepared.

By the way, if you're interested in fashion design, like, doing it, not just wearing it, you might want to pick up a copy of Yves Saint Laurent: Style. It's full of reproductions of YSL's sketches, done, interestingly, on graph paper, as well as lush photos of finished clothing. See how the Master did it.