Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Like a strand in the wind...

Roberto Cavalli

In a way it makes sense that Roberto Cavalli, granddaddy of the glammed-up boho babe aesthetic, would have the final word on all things hippie-deluxe this season. In just 40 looks he managed to make every other collection that has toyed with the look seem so sad and half-assed by comparison, at least to me. Cavalli's been in an ongoing state of flux these last few years, trying, it would seem, to move his brand forward. Some of the results, like his F/W 2009 collection, struck me as positive steps in a new direction that still kept his aesthetic intact, while others have abandoned everything the label is about for reasons unknown. I guess I'm of the mind that if you're good at something you should stick to it, and what Cavalli is good at is super glamorous, super luxurious rock star clothes, which is exactly what he delivered for Spring Summer 2011, his 40th anniversary. I'm not even going to try hating this collection because frankly between the craftsmanship and the conviction of belief I think it's an extremely well done take on one of the season's prevailing moods.

On the Fashion Spot some threw out a comparison to Cher, and I can kind of see that. Hell, Cher was probably wearing Cavalli back in her early bohemian days with Sonny, so it's not far off the mark. But if the hair and hiphuggers are Cher then the more ethereal, floaty pieces trailing fringe every which way are pure Stevie Nicks. The dreamy sun-baked color palette certainly adds to the effect. I mean really, can't you just picture her twirling around in some of these dresses while singing Edge of Seventeen? Part of what makes Cavalli's brand of trashy, flashy fun stand out has always been his commitment to beautiful workmanship. Questionable taste aside the man and his staff have quite a way with leather, embroidery and printmaking, and this collection is a testament to those specialties. From the whipstitched crocodile, ostrich and python jackets to the lacing that held together pants and dresses the work that went into the clothes is obvious. To me that's one of the things that separates his take on this look from all the other designers who have done it this season, it really does look handmade, homespun even, but in the best possible way. Even the way it's styled seems somewhat authentic, like real women put these looks together with the things they own. It comes pretty close to looking and feeling one of a kind. The other thing that sets this apart from the crowd is how it really goes there. It risks being ridiculous in order to be convincing, unlike collections such as Gucci and Pucci which only dip their toes into the boho pool. Cavalli dove in head first and went as far as he could, and whether the clothes appeal to you or not I think that kind of commitment is something worth praising. Like Versace or Prada earlier in the week this collection is focused and uncompromising, which of course means that it won't please everybody. But since when is anything that pleases everybody worth noticing?

all images from style.com

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The long and the short of it...


If you were to play a word association game and the chosen word was Versace, I'd be willing to bet that "restrained" wouldn't be a response. Let's face it, there are dozens of adjectives that can be used to describe Versace, but words like restrained, minimal and spare aren't among them. Leave it to Donatella when she's in the mood for something different to change that perception.

Everything about the collection feels extremely focused and considered, from the restricted color palette to the sharply tailored (and limited) silhouettes. Even the house's signature Greek key pattern, which hasn't made an appearance on the runway in a while, was used very carefully in abstract painterly prints or as PVC/patent leather insets or appliques. Nothing about the collection, not even the silk fringe that was the only embellishment on evening dresses, felt excessive. But despite the rigor displayed in the clothes the collection recalls so much of the house's past. Watching the video I saw a lot of Gianni in the collection, although to me the collection doesn't feel burdened by references to his work. It's classic Versace but Donatella really made the look her own. None of Gianni's work that I remember was quite this slick or controlled. This being a Versace collection there's certainly no shortage of sex appeal, but this time around there's something about it that's very grown up and, dare I say it, sophisticated.

I haven't been this nuts about a Versace collection in a few years. Something about it feels genuinely fresh, unlike anything that's been seen from the house in recent memory. While the fall collection also had a graphic quality to it, I think this collection achieved much more appealing results. I do have a couple of complaints which I almost feel bad bringing up, but can't avoid. The first is the total lack of pants. I can appreciate that Donatella presented an extremely uncompromising vision - that's something to respect a designer - but considering how sharp the tailoring in this show was I wouldn't have minded a few looks based around this season's pant. But then I may just be idealizing that in my head and in reality pants would have lessened the overall impact of the presentation. The second complaint is the gowns at the end. To me they feel less like the logical conclusion of the collection and more like meeting an expectation. People expect gowns from Versace, and if we're being honest Versace does them well, but the three that made it onto the runway, all of them made of fringe built onto bodices and swinging from the skirt, weren't as strong as all of the pieces that had come before. They weren't necessary, and they weren't the best I've ever seen from Donatella, though I will grant that they also were not predictable Versace gowns, either. Ultimately the good far outweighs the bad in this collection though. It's a wonderful synthesis between past and future, and the result couldn't be more perfect for the present.

all images from style.com

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tourist Trap...


Not many designers can manage to do something interesting with as tired a theme as resort-wear, but then not many designers have as twisted a mind as Miuccia Prada. In rapid change mode yet again (she is the queen of rapid change, after all) Prada ditched the headline making curves of her Fall collection for light, crisp, sometimes boxy clothes that combined such clashing elements as rugby or sailor stripes in a rainbow of crayon colors, prints inspired by baroque-era interiors, medical scrubs, the 20s, the 40s, the 50s, and souvenir t-shirts. The overall effect, at least to me, brought to mind a kind of retro tourism vibe, the look of post-WWII American or European women traveling to places like Cuba, Mexico and Brazil with a brand new wardrobe of clothes perfectly suited to a tropical climate. This being a Prada collection the results had a kind of intentionally cheesy and tacky quality to them.

While I don't necessarily love all of the clothes on their own, I can appreciate them for the most part. For instance, I don't actually like the three chemise dresses embroidered to look like souvenir t-shirts, but I certainly enjoy the humor of them. Same goes for the cartoon banana and baroque monkey prints, which I don't think many people would be able to pull of very convincingly. But they're still pretty clever. The pieces I do like are some of the colorful striped looks. More than sailors or rugby they make me think of beach towels, and that's really not a bad association when you're looking at summer clothes. I also love the fox stoles that a lot of the models were carrying. It's such a ridiculous idea, a fur stole for the summer, made even more ridiculous by the fact that they weren't even being worn. I'm especially fond of the striped ones. With the dangling tails they kind of look like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. I don't know if anyone else got that, but it makes me smile, so who cares? One thing that this collection makes clear, yet again, is that Miuccia is undoubtedly at her best when she's fucking up a cliche.

all images from style.com

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Crash and Burn...


I knew it couldn't last. The restraint she showed, the optimism I felt. They were temporary, erased by the new. Logically I knew that I'd probably be feeling let down, but I still hoped I wouldn't. This is my way of saying that the Spring Summer 2011 collection that Frida Giannini presented was such a drastic departure from the positively good collection she put out last fall and which won me over, despite my distaste for the woman's prior work. With this new collection she reverted back to her former tactics faster than you can say "stiletto", and it's killing me. Watching the show, which seemed to unintentionally be broken up into three separate collections, was upsetting because after last season I've seen what Frida is capable of. She's still no Tom Ford, and she never will be, but she can do luxurious, sexy, grown up clothes that positively reek of Gucci's essence. Why she decided to shoot herself in the foot instead of going 2 for 2 is beyond my comprehension.

The collection started out with jewel tone silk separates, tapered trousers, blazers, blouses, and tulip skirts and in their clashing shades of orange, jade, purple and cerulean accented with gold accessories and red lips it would be nearly impossible not to think of Yves Saint Laurent. He was the master of these kinds of lurid mixes of color. I wish I could say that Giannini's homage did the originator justice, but instead of looking artistic, beautiful and unusual Giannini's mix of colors just looked cheap. There was zero sophistication which, mean as it sounds, is a testament to her eye for color. She may like using it but in this case anyway it wasn't used well. Ignoring the color the pieces are no great shakes with their slight 70s vibe. Compared to Marc Jacobs collection, which went there and back, it's no wonder I find these looks completely forgettable. I do like the black blouse on Natasha though. Apparently the back was cut out.

The next section, which was significantly larger, was done in shades of beige, tan and black and had a vague "safari" flavor. You know what that means, harem pants, neat jackets in exotic skins detailed with lots of junk like tassels, fringe, and braiding, and a bit of ethnic beading to finish things off. Again this section recalled Yves Saint Laurent, though an entirely different side of his work. If the opening looks harked back to his vibrant disco days then this section was pure, unadulterated, mid-60s Saharienne with just a hint of Marrakesh thrown in to cover all the bases. It's a look that's been done countless times, and honestly Frida isn't adding anything remotely new to the theme. Save for the overload of details this was textbook fashion, the kind of ready-made go-to inspiration that designers latch on to like flies to a zebra carcass. While this was the largest section of the collection it was also the most uneven. There were some beautiful pieces, but between the over-styling and the over-embellishing that went on they got a little lost in the shuffle.

The third and final section was, unsurprisingly, eveningwear and for evening Frida referenced yet another moment in Saint Laurent's career, his African collection of 67/68, in all it's tribal beaded, feathered and fringed glory. After sending out three black jumpsuits with gold detailing that, were it not for the extremely dropped crotches would have been kind of pretty, Giannini sent out what were no doubt meant to be her "drama" pieces, the ones that end a show with a bang. It's unfortunate that, for me at least, the obvious work that went into making them is overshadowed by the fact that they are both overdone and unflattering. Watching the live stream, with the size 0 and 2 models walking down the runway in their fringed, beaded, and feathered dresses, hands thrust into side pockets, I couldn't help but think of how insane it is to make a dress that is already wide around the hips appear even wider by adding pockets. Frida's a woman, and if a woman is making dresses that look kind of bulky on a too-thin model (forget about a woman who actually has a waist and hips) there is seriously something wrong.

Besides feeling like a completely unfocused collection it also feels like a giant step backwards for Giannini. I've always felt that she has relied way too heavily on special effects and not enough on the basics of designing clothes such as cut, shape and fit. There are times when it feels as though she's thinking of the embellishments first and simply applying them to whatever garment will accommodate them, and there are others when it seems like she thinks she needs to work a piece to the nth degree for it to be luxurious or special. I don't understand why she'd revert back to this comfort zone after showing that she can in fact restrain herself and produce results that are better looking than when she goes for the glue gun. I also can't help but criticize the lack of continuity in this collection. Style.com namechecked Guy Bourdin and Chris von Wangenheim as two sources of inspiration, and while I could maybe grant that the bold colors that opened the show have a vaguely Bourdin kind of feel (and I do mean vaguely) I don't see much of Wangenheim's twisted sexuality here. I also don't see how photographers who helped define the look of the mid-to-late 70s relate to Marrakesh, safari or tribalism via YSL. Fact is those references come from an entirely different decade than Bourdin and Wangenheim. There's no real connection between them and Frida didn't succeed at creating one, which is why this one collection of 44 looks is broken up so jaggedly. There's no flow from those colored disco silks to the beige harem pants and leather jackets that came next, just like there's no flow from the desert tinged safari section to the glitzed up sub-Saharan tribalism that closed the show. Weird thing is I don't all out hate this collection. It's certainly not the worst that Giannini has done and some of the pieces, like those black jumpsuits which are really the only pieces that successfully merge all of the references, are kind of nice. But I can't say that I think the collection is very good. It's not. Like I said, I knew that last season would turn out to be a fluke, I really did, but I still hoped that it might be the start of a new chapter at Gucci. It was nice while it lasted I guess.

all images from style.com

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Something Old, Something Nu...

Engrossing myself in the world of fragrance has brought about many different emotions ranging from sheer boredom to pure ecstasy. Falling into the latter category is one of the fragrances I am currently obsessing over, Yves Saint Laurent's now discontinued Nu Eau de Parfum. Blame it on ignorance, but while this feminine release was still on the shelves I paid it absolutely no attention. I'm not even sure why to be completely honest. I don't think it was because it was marketed as a women's scent and I was not yet in my "I don't give a f*** how it's categorized" phase. I distinctly remember sampling Alexander McQueen's Kingdom when it came out in 2003, despite the fact that it was also sold at the women's counter. Honestly I think I was just unaware of it, shocking given my well documented obsession with all things Tom Ford. Nu was his first contribution to YSL's fragrance division after all, and having now smelled it for close to six months I can say that it was a great first effort. What a shame that it was killed off, because it's absolutely gorgeous.

the ad campaign photographed by Mario Sorrenti

I've very quickly learned that I respond well to incense fragrances in general, and that's exactly what Nu is. Mixed in are bergamot, black pepper, white orchid, sandalwood, vetiver and some other notes that vary depending on whose word you take for it. It must be the fact that any bottle of Nu is about 5 years old by now, but I got absolutely no bergamot top notes from the sample I ordered, not that I'm complaining. When I popped the cap on that vial I knew I was a goner. It was love at first sniff as the 'fumies say. That first intoxicating whiff was like a drug. First off, it's quite genderless. I had read plenty of reviews that had said it was, but smelling it in person convinced me of it's possibilities as a unisex fragrance. The white orchid does make an appearance but it doesn't scream FLORAL, it just kind of hints at it and combined with the incense and pepper, which really balance it out, the overall effect is at the same time exotic and urbane. It's quite stark in that the composition is very simple and also very linear, at least on me. My one complaint, which I guess is relatively minor, is projection. Even though Nu goes on strong it mellows out considerably, and while it's probably got more projection than a "skin scent" it's still relatively quiet. I'm honestly not sure what breed of perfume Nu would be categorized as (neo-minimalist oriental?) but like a lot of incense fragrances I find it both sensual and serene, not a bad mix of qualities if you ask me.

Like I said I'm obsessing over Nu, constantly scouring the internet and any of my reputable shady fragrance discounters for a good deal on it. But there's a part of me that's afraid to commit. It's this fear I have that after buying it, wearing it and enjoying it I'll find another incense that I like even more. I'm exactly the same way with big clothing/shoe buys, like the time I happened to be outlet shopping and popped into John Varvatos only to find that the entire store was 75% off the marked price. That means that the $1,500-ish leather jacket that looked fantastic on me was in the $375 range, the only catch was that it was final sale. I'm still kicking myself for not adding that jacket to my closet for fear that I'd find one I liked better. I never did, and the jacket was lost forever. There's also this little voice in the back of my head wondering aloud if I only want Nu so badly because it's rare. I mean I doubt I'd spend any time hunting something down that I don't like at all, but would I want to own it so badly if it wasn't for the fact that it's not easy to get? This is just a taste of the thinking that goes on whenever I'm about to go in for the kill. At this point I think I just need to take the plunge, if for no other reason than keeping my sanity.

image from mes-parfums.com

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A clean slate...

Narciso Rodriguez

Once upon a time at the beginning of the decade that is rapidly coming to a close, I was a Narciso Rodriguez fan. His razor sharp, super spare dresses that were cut to hug the female form were some of the sexiest clothes around, certainly some of the sexiest clothes being shown on this side of the pond. There was, I would guess, a two year period where I really grew to love his aesthetic and the way he dressed women. Sex on legs is actually a pretty apt way of describing it, though it never veered into Versace/Cavalli/D&G levels of skin and sin. But, as with all good things, he had to change things up to keep people interested. In the years since he has played with volume, movement, shape and color, and while there have been times when I've liked the results overall they never really whipped me into a tizzy.

But for Spring Summer 2011 he sent out a collection that, while not quite the same as the good old days, certainly shared some similarities. Back was his familiar long, lean silhouette that ended somewhere between the knee and the ankle, though this time around, with many of his dresses rendered in soft, fluid fabrics, it was as if all the internal structure was removed from his signature sheaths leaving a languid fabric shell that barely grazed the body. God only knows why but pieces like a long white satin t-shirt dress with a scooped neck or a slip made of contrasting panels of gray silk held up by spaghetti straps and slit up the leg just looked damn sexy. Granted I'm not an authority on what makes a woman sexy, but even still I'd stop and look if the right woman walked by wearing one of those dresses.

While I realize that the length and shape of the majority of these skirts are extremely uncompromising, they're the kind of clothes that make me wish more women could be flattered by them because it's such a beautiful way to look. I feel like I say this a lot, but I really, really hope that this collection signals a change in direction for Narciso. Plain as they are these clothes are a welcome return to what made me fall in love with his collection to begin with.

all images from style.com

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Love to love you, baby...

Marc Jacobs

One can always rely on Marc Jacobs to provide a solid jolt of electricity when fashion week is off to a slow start. It's not that the collections shown so far have been bad necessarily, it's just that most of them have been lacking a point of view. I guess it's not really a surprise that Marc's should stand out; it's just about as different from everything else that's been shown this week as it could possibly be. Everyone else is showing tons of white and barely-there pastels, Marc goes all out with rich jewel and spice tones. Everyone else does sharp, streamlined silhouettes, Marc does volume. And while I wouldn't go so far as to call the collection maximal, compared to the recent movement towards minimalism fashion has been experiencing there was a sense of frivolity and fun on Marc's runway that I just don't think you can achieve when you're stripping clothing down to their most basic form. I don't think this collection is such a departure from the beautifully restrained collection Jacobs showed last season. Yes this is louder and far more extroverted, but just like last season the focus here is primarily on the clothes. There's nothing conceptual about it, no message to decode, no figuring out what is and isn't meant for retail. Really the only difference, except for the surface stuff like color, shape and fabrication, is the mood. In that way this collection is last season's polar opposite. Whereas fall was sedate, soulful and romantic spring is sexy, vibrant and very, very glam.

While I was watching the live feed I kept thinking of "The Beautiful Fall", author Alicia Drake's non-fiction account of Karl Lagerfeld's and Yves Saint Laurent's individual but parallel rises to fame, a large part of which took place in Paris during the early 70s. In the book there is quite a cast of supporting characters, including model Donna Jordan who was something of a muse to both Lagerfeld and illustrator Antonio Lopez, and whose look must have inspired this collection to some degree. I also see bits of Donna Summer, Loulou de la Falaise, Pat Cleavland, Bianca Jagger and Jodie Foster's character in "Taxi Driver", not to mention vintage Saint Laurent and Chloe designed by Lagerfeld himself. Those are just the references I myself can spot, I'm sure I'm missing some. It's no surprise that the clothes are unmistakably retro when you can see style icons of the decade so clearly in the show, but that doesn't really bother me. Maybe it's because this particular look that calls to mind the transitional period between the early 70s bohemian and late 70s disco eras isn't something that's been big on the fashion landscape recently. There have been hints of it in stores with items like high-waisted flared denim and printed maxi dresses, but it hasn't been a main theme in fashion of late. Even though a lot of the clothes are fairly literal interpretations of the past I can still see a great deal of them appealing to women of today. Of course the styling, from the frizzed out Bourdin hair and vampy makeup to the flower and feather chokers and those fantastically kitschy parasol hats, really help make the look as fabulous as can be, but I accept the fact that those things probably won't catch on with the public. All in all this was a wonderful shot of energy in what's been a fairly lifeless New York season so far.

all images from style.com

Monday, September 13, 2010

Guilt trip...

It's been a few months now since Gucci first announced the launch of their newest feminine fragrance, Guilty. My reaction to the news was ambivalence. Gucci has been churning out fragrances a lot more quickly than they used to, and while that doesn't automatically mean the products aren't good it does make you question whether or not enough time and care has been given to the new scent. It hasn't helped that the promotion for these new fragrances has seemed like too much, especially once you get to smell them. To be frank there isn't one of their newer releases that I really love all that much, although if you forced me to pick a favorite I'd probably go with Gucci by Gucci Eau de Parfum, and that's only because as a scent it's closest to the kind of stuff I gravitate towards. The appeal certainly doesn't have anything to do with the kitschtastic bottle it comes in, with it's engraved striped ribbon and chintzy horsebit charm. The other fragrances which have been directed by Frida Gianinni, Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme, Flora, and Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme Sport, strike me as utterly generic, to put it kindly. Not to beat a dead horse, but as with the rest of the brand Gucci's fragrances aren't what they used to be.

But enough back story. Despite my ambivalence towards yet another new release, the name of this new fragrance caught my attention. It definitely fits in nicely with Gucci's two most well known perfumes, Envy and Rush. All of them have names that connote a sense of danger and sin, and really what could be more old-school Gucci than that? I'm undecided as to whether or not I would have called this new one Guilt instead of Guilty, and I definitely would have called it Guilty by Gucci instead of Gucci Guilty, but sadly no one over at double-G headquarters asked for my input. Still, I think the name itself is good. Also good is the print campaign. The first shot that debuted with the announcement of the launch was, to quote Marisa Tomei, dead-on balls-accurate. In it actress Evan Rachel Wood, who I think is an unusual but interesting choice of spokesperson, kind of looked like iconic Gucci girl Georgina Grenville...at least to me. Who knows, maybe I'm just projecting. Maybe the familiar sight of a couple in a naked, sweaty, mid-coital embrace against a shadowy background looked enough like something out of Tom Ford's old play book that I was just visualizing Georgina's face on Evan Rachel's neck. Needless to say it's my favorite out of all the Giannini-directed Gucci fragrance campaigns for reasons that should be obvious.

(Tell me I'm imagining the similarities... )

However my love for the campaign ends with the photos. The TV commercial directed by Sin City creator Frank Miller might as well be another campaign entirely, because from where I'm sitting the look and feel of it is completely different from the still photographs. I don't think that Miller's neo-noir aesthetic suits Gucci very well. His aesthetic looks great in comics and in action films, but let's be honest, his work is designed to appeal mainly to heterosexual men, and this commercial is no exception. On top of that I find the blatant depiction of sex both trashy and banal (and again, something that would mostly appeal to men). While Gucci has always been about sex, it was never used so tactlessly. I find the print ad sexier simply because something is left to the imagination. That single photo is doing a better job at telling you what Guilty is supposed to evoke than the minute-long commercial is.

As for the fragrance itself, it's billed as a floral oriental with notes of mandarin, pink pepper, lilac, geranium, peach, amber and patchouli. Although I was determined to give it a sniff when it hit store shelves it sounds a little light weight for a perfume described as any breed of oriental. But when I saw that gleaming gold bottle (which has grown on me a bit since I first saw a picture of it) perched on it's display pedestal at Bloomingdales' fragrance counter I hightailed it over, made sure the SA was busy with someone else and liberally sprayed a blotter. At first I found it pretty, though as the notes implied, kind of light. I didn't remember there being anything heady or exotic about it whatsoever. So I forgot about it and left it to sit in my car. A day later when I accidentally found the blotter I had forgotten all about sitting in my cup holder I took a sniff and liked it a hell of a lot better than I had when it was fresh. Instead of the flowers and mandarin from the top what was left was a combo of patchouli, amber and something else that may or may not have been the remainder of the peach. I have a recently sprayed blotter in my hands as we speak and smelling it now over two week later it's more potent than I remembered it being, the florals are more pronounced and a bit powdery, though I still don't get much, if any, spice. Maybe I've just huffed my mother's vintage Opium one too many times and my nose has become jaded. Personally I could have gone for some incense or heavier spice or even a bit of musk somewhere in there. Frankly the drydown, which is nice, is the only thing that makes Guilty worth wearing, though I will say, considering the multitude of sugar bombs currently residing on the shelves at Sephora Guilty should provide a nice antidote for those who don't want to smell like a candy store. As for whether or not the name fits the scent, I'm not convinced that it does. To me the name suggests a hint of something corrupt or dirty, even if it's only fleeting. After all, guilt is the result of doing something that you know you shouldn't have done, or doing something that you've been told is wrong to do. Even if you repent the fact remains that you still did it. I wish Guilty had that implied hint of badness; it could have been really good if it did.

images from nstperfume.com, wwd.com, and mes-parfums.com

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Big BANG...

I was excited when I read about Marc Jacobs' new masculine fragrance release earlier this summer. To be completely blunt I detest his original men's scent and regretted wearing it each time that I used my sample. Something in there, and I'm still not sure what, just did not agree with me. But even with the knowledge that the one MJ fragrance I've ever worn made me want to jump into the closest shower, I was looking forward to trying out his sophomore effort named BANG. Of course with the news of the new fragrance and a preview of it's fantastically ridiculous bottle that looks like some pretentious piece of abstract sculpture you're supposed to stare at very meaningfully while secretly not getting it, there was the very first glimpse of the ad campaign. Shot by Jacobs' go-to lensman Juergen Teller and starring Marc himself the ad is quite possibly the gayest thing I've seen all year, and trust me, that that's saying something. It's been floating around the net for a few months now, but for anyone who's not yet seen it, it's high time you did.

It's got all the essential ingredients for an Out editorial; abs, body oil, shiny stuff, random mismatched tattoos, stubble, a come hither expression (which is, ironically, not at all lust inducing) and a complete lack of clothing and shame. Now I know the ad is probably supposed to be at least partially tongue in cheek, but to me it just reeks of desperation and, oddly, insecurity. Once upon a time Marc was this nebbishy little downtown dude who just happened to be the coolest of the cool kids and didn't seem to care about fitting in. Over the last few years he's made himself over, and while I'm still a great fan of Marc the designer I honestly can't stand Marc the Chelsea scene-queen/pop culture icon. Something about his new image seems wrong to me, and this ad is just a glaring example of that. When I first saw the ad I remember saying something to the effect of "the old Marc would have found this ridiculous".

As for the scent itself I was intrigued by the list of notes that accompanied the announcement of it's impending launch. With an opening act of black, pink and white pepper and a combination of woods, benzoin, vetiver, moss and patchouli in the heart and base, it sounded like something I might be into. I managed to snag a sample while visiting the fragrance counter in late July when Bloomingdales was previewing it and I have to say, I'm not feeling it. The top notes are exactly what the name of the fragrance suggests, a big bang of dry, scratchy, spicy pepper. It's a bit like sticking your nose directly into a container of the stuff and taking a deep breath. That's how realistic it is. While it does have an appealing zing to it, and as unusual as an all pepper top is for a fragrance it gets to be really overbearing after the first minute or two. Thankfully it does chill out (eventually) and moves into a mellow spiced woods groove. With the traces of pepper it has an almost pine-y kind of vibe to it. Then again, since some of the notes are just listed as "woods" it could very well be pine. Or it could be that the mix of notes is playing a trick on my nose and creating the illusion of it. Whatever the case I'm not really a fan. For whatever reason pine is a smell, be it natural or synthesized, that I have never liked, so it's for damn sure I don't want it wafting from me all day long. Turns out though that I don't have to worry about it invading my nostrils all day because from start to finish the fragrance has only lasted 2-3 hours on me both times I've worn it, and while it does last it seems relatively tame as far as sillage goes. I guess this one just doesn't work with me. If I had liked what the scent was doing on my skin that would be a bad thing, but since the peppercorns outstay their welcome and the woods/resins don't combine to an effect that I find appealing the fact that it doesn't last isn't such a negative after all. I will give BANG this much, it's pretty unusual as far as mainstream designer men's fragrances go. There really isn't anything sweet or fresh or clean about it, and that opening is a little on the strange side. You'd be hard pressed to come up with something that smells similar if you were shopping the men's side at Sephora or any mid-to-high-end department store. I think it's worth trying for that pepper medley top alone, but I'd recommend spraying with caution.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Okay, so by now I'm sure that anyone who has read this blog is well aware of my all-consuming obsession with fashion, and if there are any doubts keep in mind that the word "addiction" appears in the blog's name. It's that serious. What you probably don't know is that I also have a borderline unhealthy obsession with fragrances. It's still pretty new, but like a weed it took no time at all to grow. Funny thing is it didn't start because I had a genuine interest in scent. It started as a result of searching for a new scent that was different from the few that I already own and have worn for years. I'm a full fledged junkie by this point, scamming samples out of any SA who will give them and hording them like food rations. I figure that as with any obsession, talking about it can only help. So that's exactly what I'm going to do. Stay tuned...

And in case you were wondering no, I still haven't found that one new fragrance to add to my collection.