Monday, February 22, 2010

One Size Fits All?

I decided to write an entry about my thoughts on the fashion industry's use of thin models. It is a topic that I think is misunderstood and I wanted to share my viewpoint on the matter.

Recently, the fashion industry has yet again been put under the spotlight for perpetuating an ideal of beauty with the adage that thinner is always better. There have been health concerns raised about anorexia becoming rampant in the modeling industry especially after Ana Carolina Reston, a Brazilian model, died from anorexia in 2006. Ana was certainly not the only anorexia victim and many women, not just models, suffer from the terrible disease. So, is the fashion industry to blame? Is society to blame? And what does that really mean, anyway?

There are several sides to this conflict and the debate goes something like this. There are those in the fashion industry that defend the use of thin models. One such example is the head designer of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, who famously said that the fashion world was all to do "with dreams and illusions and no one wants to see round women." Then there are those like London designer Mark Fast who are encouraging a shift in the industry from stick-thin women, to curvier, voluptuous women. In both his Spring and Fall 2010 collections, Mark used plus-sized models in his runway shows, which caused quite the stir. Yes, the women were beautiful, but the question remains, do they belong on the runway?

Crystal Renn in the Mark Fast Fall 2010 show

Here is where I stand on the issue. Modeling is like any other profession where the body is a critical component of your performance. A football player needs to be massive to be able to push other people around. A model needs to be thin to be able to properly display clothing. Have you ever sat down and thought about it? What is a model's job? Is it to be pretty and represent the ideal for beauty? No, it's to be nothing more than a human hanger. Models needs to be blank canvases on which the clothing is painted on. Curves are distracting. The designer doesn't want you looking at the model's curves instead of the garment they produced. Also, it is important to note how the fabric lays on different body types. The more three-dimensional a body is, the more difficult it is to see the garment properly. When designers make a collection, they make them in a "sample size" which is typically a size 0 or 2. The idea is to save fabric. When working with expensive fabrics, especially in couture clothing, it is more economical to use less. In the end, fashion is a business and unfortunately, money drives all industries. Magazines will keep putting thin models in their pages and designers will continue to send thin girls down the runway, as long as that is what makes them more money.

The most important point to make is that this has nothing to do with beauty. I don't think beauty comes in one size. In fact, personally, I think curves are beautiful. Plus-sized models are generally very beautiful girls. Last year, V magazine had a photo spread that had plus-sized model Crystal Renn modeling the same clothing as a typical thin model and had their photos side by side for comparison. The point they were trying to make was that both of these models look great in the clothes. I don't disagree with them. Yes, they both look great. The thin model doesn't out-model Crystal. But then why stop at just thin vs. thick? Even plus-sized models have flawless faces with perfectly sculpted features and blemish-free skin. Should the industry "embrace the normal girl" and start hiring models with crooked teeth, bad complexions and droopy eyelids?

Also, alluding back to Lagerfeld assertion that the fashion world was all to do "with dreams and illusions", it's imperative to make the distinction between the runway and the real world. The majority of us do not wear couture clothing. Designer clothing, runway shows, magazine ads; these are not representations of the world we live in. They are extensions of a fantasy world created by the minds of Galliano, Armani and Jacobs. Kelly Cutrone, a prominent fashion show producer, said that "Women shouldn't be comparing themselves with these girls. These girls are anomalies of nature. They are freaks of nature. They are not average. They are naturally thin and have incredibly long legs compared to the rest of their body. Their eyes are wide set apart. Their cheekbones high." In essence, they are part of the fantasy world. They are part of the massive performance piece that is a runway show.

Instead of attacking the fashion industry, the media, or "society" for perpetuating negative body images, remember that fashion is inherently an art form. If designers choose to have their art displayed on an unconventional canvas, that is their choice. But if the majority of designers want to use the same standard type of canvas, they shouldn't be chastised for it either. I personally think clothes look better on the runway on thin models. Although I am well aware that body image disorders are running rampant in young men and women in our society, changing the sample size of garments used in a fashion show to a size 10 is not going to solve any problems. Yes, it is important that the models remain healthy, and I absolutely believe that that is something that should be regularly monitored by their agency. But, ultimately, I think it is ridiculous to point fingers and to demand a reform of a $100 million dollar industry that is based on artistic design and personal taste.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

NYFW: Top 10 Disappointments

My last post went into the good, so now let's get into the bad and the ugly.

1. Anna Sui. Unlike Proenza Shouler's designs, these mismatched patterns and prints were not pleasing to the eye. There is too much going on and although as separates, the pieces aren't terrible and I can see some of them being cute if matched with the proper solid-colored tees or pants, the completed looks are just dreadful.

2. Betsey Johnson. When I think Betsey Johnson, I think girly, flirty dresses. The perfect dress to wear to a cocktail party or a night out on the town. I think ribbons, bows, flowers and all things pretty and feminine. For this collection, what we got instead are ill-fitting jumpsuits, a terrible color palette and a horrendous yellow suit. There was a wild west theme and I get what she was trying to do but I couldn't get passed the combination of red and olive green. And on top of that, you had your girls walking on hay? Really, hay?!? I really can't imagine a less glamorous way to present clothing.

3. Cynthia Rowley. Awkwardly placed fringe, hideous blue and purple print and the ugliest coat I have ever seen in my life.

4. Isaac Mizrahi. None of the looks were flattering. The color scheme was lackluster. And that brown lace and toule gown was unsightly.

5. Jason Wu. I was really excited to see his collection. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Jason Wu is one of my favorite new designers and I was loving his spring collection. The fall collection though, really disappointed me. The first several suits and dresses he sent down looked like they were attacked by paintballs and the gowns at the end of the show were very blah. I had high expectations and was definitely let down.

6. Lela Rose. Although not the worst collection that showed, it was definitely one of the most boring. There was nothing youthful or inspiring. And that champagne-colored shiny jumpsuit wouldn't look good on anybody, even a supermodel.

7. Marc Jacobs. Oh, Marc, you break my heart. Although, he's typically one of my absolute favorite designers, these clothes were just plain ugly. There were old-lady jacket and skirt combos, boring colors and that gown at the end was a big ugly mess. I'm just going to pretend like this collection never happened and am hoping what he created for Louis Vuitton will make up for this lackluster series of clothes.

8. Narcisco Rodriguez. Some of the most ill-fitting, atrocious clothes I've ever seen. Those hats or helmets or whatever they are, are unwearable and not even Lady Gaga could make it work. I also really hate ombre prints so the orange and black dresses make me somewhat nauseous.

9. Rodarte. Their spring collection was one of my favorites from that season so I was very disappointed to see these mismatched frilly messes. Again, there is too much going on, and it looks as though these girls went into their closet and just put on everything they owned, didn't bother to look in the mirror and went out.

10. Zac Posen. Another designer that is usually brilliant but must have had a lapse in judgment when he designed these clothes. First of all, what woman looks good in velvet pants? No one. That grey coat with the puffy fur arms is one of the least-flattering unattractive garments I've ever seen. And what is with that random patch of color on the blue long-sleeved romper?

Honorable Mention: Thakoon. I usually love his designs and although his fall collection wasn't terrible, it wasn't great. But there was one WTF dress that made me dislike the entire collection, as a whole. This dress.....sigh...this dress. I'll start by saying, I love the color and the texture. From the waste down, it's totally fab. But the unflattering puffy short sleeves and trashy yellow mesh in the center of the dress ruins it. Because every girl wants puffy shoulders and their nipples playing peek-a-boo, right? Wrong. Wrong on so many levels.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

NYFW: Top 15 Collections

Thank God for New York Fashion Week. After McQueen's passing, I was devastated and felt as though my fashion world came crashing down. Initially, I didn't want to look at any of the New York collections. Like nothing else in fashion mattered if Lee wasn't going to design anymore. But then I got over the drama and started watching the shows. Seeing some of the lovely collections brought me out of the doom and gloom. Couture heals all wounds. I'm going to divide my review of New York Fashion Week with two separate posts; one for collections I loved and one for the ones I hated. First I'll start with my top 15 favorite collections (in alphabetical order):

1. Alice + Olivia. Youthful, hip, and simply chic. I always love what Stacey Bendet designs. Though not necessarily cutting edge fashion, it's definitely wearable and clothes that contemporary young women will love. Me being one of them!

2. Badgley Mischka. Sophisticated, classic and lovely. These men know how to make dresses. They know what looks good on a woman. They always deliver.

3. Carolina Herrera. Finally, something interesting to look at! Ms. Herrera's designs are always sophisticated and classic but there is a bit of creativity in this collection that showcases more than just another pretty gown.

4. Christian Siriano. I much preferred this collection over his Spring 2010 collection. These are the clothes every woman wants in her closet. They're simple, lovely and chic. And the shoes were hot too!

5. Diane von Furstenberg. The Queen of prints has charmed us again with her lovely, flowy dresses and wonderfully tailored suits. She can do no wrong in my eyes.

6. Halston. There is no one that represents New York fashion more than Carrie Bradshaw. So it is no surprise that SJP is going to be designing for the American brand. Although Carrie's look is a bit funkier than Halston's, Sarah's personal look seems to be a perfect fit with Halston. I loved what they showed for Fall. The use of primary colors was perfection and the yellow sweater dress and boots combo was my favorite look.

7. Herve Leger by Max Azria. So, you'd have to be a teeny-tiny model to be able to pull of these super-tight dresses, but they're hot nonetheless. I especially love the geometric lines and almost athletic look these dresses have.

8. Jeremy Scott. I love this man. He is definitely one of my favorite designers. Why do I love him? Because he has fun with clothes. Although some of his clothes aren't necessarily wearable (i.e., the black jumpsuit with the life-size cut out of a woman attached to it) but they're creative, they're fearless and they're damn cute! The collection is titled "Hanger Appeal" and is a tribute to the fashion industry. I loved the stained-glass looks and the gaudy rhinestone-embellished sweater dress. Scott never disappoints me.

9. L.A.M.B. Edgy, young, hip. I want every piece from this collection. Well done, Ms. Stefani.

10. Marchesa. Georgina Chapman is a creative genius. I loved this collection so much, I couldn't just pick 5 looks to show you. In fact, I'm going to show you 10 looks. Easily MY FAVORITE COLLECTION that showed in New York. Gorgeous!!!

11. Monique Lhuillier. The last show-stopping red gown that was sent down the runway defines Lhuillier as a master dress maker that makes women look breath-taking. I also loved the short green frock which almost has a Balmainesque look to it.

12. Nanette Lepore. We can't all wear floor-length gowns every day so it was refreshing to see relaxed yet trendy clothing you could wear every day. And although I'm clearly a fan of dresses, this was the only collection in which I really loved some of the separates, too. 

13. Oscar de la Renta. Cute short floral dresses? Check. Flirty cocktail dresses? Check. Gorgeous floor-length gowns? Check.

14. Proenza Schouler. I love this design team because they have a way of mixing prints, textures and colors without making it look  like a mismatched disaster. There is a method to their madness.

15. Vera Wang. Nothing ground-breaking but really pretty clothes nonetheless. It's Vera Wang...duh!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lee Alexander McQueen

Friday morning, the world lost a visionary. The single biggest inspiration to my fashion-obsessed world took his own life. I didn't blog about it immediately because I didn't know what to say. I wanted to collect my thoughts. Two days have passed and I still have no idea what to say. A few weeks ago, a few of my friends got  together and Jackie asked us who our heroes were. My response was Alexander McQueen. When I tried to think of a reason why, I don't think I had a convincing answer. He was a genius, I can't really explain what specifically defined him as such. It's like he saw the future but made us believe it was very current. Two weekends ago, we went on a Houston adventure and spent the day looking at diamonds, fancy decorated eggs, and also did some vintage shopping. There was a small vintage store in the Montrose area that had a seemingly random collection of clothing. As I was mindlessly flipping through the racks, I saw a label that made me do a double-take. Did that really say "Alexander McQueen"?!? After re-reading the same label of the white denim pencil skirt several times, my brain and eyes finally came to a consensus, that yes, it said just that. I was ecstatic. I had been admiring his work from afar, blogging about his brilliance, and now I was actually touching it. Shortly after gushing to my friends on my find, we left the store and continued to wreak havoc in the Montrose area. 

As the buzz around Fall/Winter 2010 Fashion Week started hitting the internet, I started to count down the days to the Paris shows, where McQueen would show his collection. I was following him on Twitter as he was finishing his collection, having model fittings and ranting about how insane his life currently was (his mother had recently passed). I awkwardly would tweet to him about how excited I was about his show. I am a totally obsessed fan. Remember when N'sync (or the Backstreet Boys for some of you) were the center of your universe and you would watch MTV (back when it was still "music television") 24/7 to get a glimpse of your idols? That's me with McQueen. Most people who read my blog or know me well, know my obsession and after his passing, I received several "i'm sorry for your loss" texts, calls, etc. People came up to me while I was at school and asked if I had heard the news. Yeah, I'd heard. No, I don't want to talk about it. It's such a bizarre feeling, to have such an emotional attachment to an artist; to someone you don't know personally. Last year when Michael Jackson and several other "idols" passed, I recognized that they were important figures that deserved to be recognized, remembered, etc., but I had no real connection to them. I was shocked they passed so young and suddenly, but I got over it. I don't think I'll be getting over this anytime soon. He wasn't just a fashion icon to me. He was the fashion icon. With every single collection he made, I felt like he was designing for my taste. Like he would consult me before designing a collection to ask, "Lucy, what would you like to wear? What do you want in your closet?". 

So, yeah, it definitely feels like a personal loss. New York Fashion Week is in full gear and I've looked at a few collections but I am still numbed from his passing and don't really feel like blogging about anything else at the moment. I will probably do a wrap-up when it's over, in between New York's and London's shows. 

Rest in peace, Lee. 

From his Fall 2006 RTW Collection. This is the first piece that I saw of his that had me convinced he was brilliant. I became a super-fan immediately after seeing this collection.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

3D: The Future of Fashion Shows

This is probably the most exciting piece of news I've heard all year! The new trend for 2010 is to make fashion more accessible to the common folk (i.e., you and me). Last year, designers such as Alexander McQueen, Dolce and Gabbana, and Burberry brought fashion shows from New York, London, Milan and Paris into your home by streaming them live, and more designers had followed suit to do the same this year. Burberry is taking things to a whole another level by not only streaming their show live from London, but they are also going to allow some VIPs to view the show live in 3D! Yes, that's right, 3D. I'm guessing by next season, more and more shows will be streaming live and eventually all of us will be able to fully appreciate fashion shows as they were intended!

New York Fashion Week:
Alexander Wang's (2/13/10) and Rodarte's (2/16/10) shows will be streaming live here:
Marc Jacob's show will broadcast on 2/15/10 at 8 pm:
Calvin Klein's show will broadcast on 2/18/10 at 3 pm

London Fashion Week Digital Schedule will be posted 2/19/10 here:

More details on live streams from Milan and Paris as schedules begin to leak online.

More info on Burberry's 3D live show here:

Monday, February 1, 2010

Model Spotlight: Lara Stone

I never really paid much attention to Lara Stone until I saw her in the September 2009 W Magazine "Academy" spread. (Check out the video from that shoot below) Immediately, I was impressed with her theatrics. The girl gives good face. She also has, in my opinion, one of the best bodies in the industry. She's not a size 0, and although she's nowhere near being considered "plus-size", at a size 4, she falls into the more "curvier" model category. I love everything about her look, from the gap in her teeth, to her razor-sharp cheek bones to her permanently fierce eyes. She has tremendous sex appeal without being cheap. She's feminine without being too sweet. She's Bridget Bardot meets couture and I can't wait to see more of her.

To my delight, I saw Ms. Stone featured several times in the February Vogue. Lara recently became the face of Louis Vuitton. Here are the Spring/Summer 2010 ads.