Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Beautiful Fall...

I have to admit that when I saw the first image from the Spring Summer 2011 Vuitton campaign it left me a bit underwhelmed. Besides not looking quite how I pictured it, I kind of felt like it could have been even more over the top than they were. I guess my attitude has always been if you're going to do gaudy, then do it big, you know? But I kept going back to that first image, and I suppose by the time the rest of the campaign made an appearance it had really grown on me. Now having seen the entire set (or what I assume is the entire set) I actually kind of love it.

For starters it perfectly captures the spirit of the collection, which was wonderfully flashy, fun and decadent. I love the kind of Tony Duquette-lite vibe, all of that glamorous chaos going on in the background. Combined with the sort of louche poses that Kristen, Raquel and Freja are striking and the lurid clothes the photos remind me of vintage Yves Saint Laurent Opium ads. There aren't any blatant similarities, just the hint of both the 70s and Orientalism in the styling, but there's still something similar about the feel of this. Going back to the poses, I like that they seem somewhat candid. I mean obviously they're not, but they don't seem as deliberate and precise as, say, the poses in the Gucci campaign. I have to say though that the one thing I'm not completely thrilled about was the choice to publish two separate images with the same clothes. There were a lot of looks shown in this collection, so it seems silly not to use different looks for each of the shots, but I guess that's a pretty minor complaint. Much as I've grown to like this campaign though I can't help wondering what Mert & Marcus would have done if they had shot this. I'm not necessarily saying that I wish they had, but I am curious about what it might have looked like if they did. Still, that doesn't change the fact that this is the first of Steven Meisel's campaigns for Vuitton that I've actually liked. I also have to say that these images don't do the photos justice. They look much better in print.

images from

Friday, January 7, 2011

Barbie Girls...

It is my belief that the only thing worse than falling into a rut yourself is having to bear witness to somebody else's. Unfortunately a rut is exactly what we're witnessing with Gucci's advertising these days. Now realistically it's only been a year since Gucci first tapped Mert & Marcus to photograph their campaigns but because Gucci releases campaigns for more than just the main S/S and F/W collections it seems like it's been a hell of a lot longer. Also worth taking into account is that when the dynamic duo revert to their comfort zone, as they have with the Gucci campaigns they've shot so far, the result is instantly recognizable and, by this point in time, predictable. Sure every photographer has a signature style that they carry with them throughout their career, but I think Mert & Marcus's has the tendency to come off as repetitive because it's so specific. It's also a bit of an acquired taste. I myself have seen more than enough of their turquoise skies, bronzed skin, reflective crimson lips and highlight-laden tresses to last me a lifetime. I guess it's no wonder that none of their Gucci campaigns have impressed me. Here's the thing though; I don't blame Mert & Marcus for how tedious the campaigns are. As specific as their signature style is and as boring as it can become it's not the only thing that they're capable of doing, and in fact I tend to like what they do when they branch out a bit. Clearly the only reason that their Gucci campaigns have become completely indistinguishable from one season to the next is because that's what Gucci wants. Why Gucci wants to repeat themselves and have all of their seasonal advertising blur into one never-ending campaign of plasticized beauty I can't say for sure, but the only logical explanation is that it sells.

I can respect that this may work from a business standpoint, but I'm not looking at it from that angle. Aesthetically I'm just plain sick of this look. I mean I could learn to live with and even enjoy seeing this kind of hyper-glamorous unnatural beauty if the composition of the photographs changed a bit, which was the case when Mert & Marcus were the photographers behind Vuitton's ad campaigns. But there really isn't any change in any of the Gucci campaigns they've done. I mean how many times can you look at a photo of a beautiful young woman who's been airbrushed into oblivion shot from a low angle while striking ridiculously overdone poses in some sun-drenched exotic location while the solid mass of her so-shiny-it's-practically-sparkling hair is billowing down her shoulder like some caramel waterfall before the whole package gets boring? Clearly I have a low tolerance for it to begin with, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that I've seen it countless times before, but I know I can't be the only one who saw this campaign and promptly rolled their eyes at it's sameness. On top of the predictability this season's campaign in particular seems even more artificial than usual. I mean the satin clothes are practically glowing for chrissake. But bitching aside there are a couple of things I do like about it. For one the pops of bright color are extremely eye catching and very refreshing after two seasons filled with neutral clothes from the runway. They make a nice contrast to the ubiquitous turquoise sky and golden terrain. I also really like the models that were cast. Joan Smalls and Karmen Pedaru make a wonderful change from Natasha Poly and her cheekbones or everybody's go-to model Raquel Zimmermann. It's just a shame that two of the more beautiful models working today both look like they're the product of CGI in this campaign. It's also a shame that as long as Mert & Marcus are employed by Gucci this is all we're likely to see.

images from

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Return of the King Part II...

What better way is there to start off the new year than getting a look at what was no doubt one of the most eagerly anticipated and hyped up fashion events in years. That's right kids, after nearly four months of waiting we, the viewing public, finally get to see Tom Ford's womenswear debut in full. By now I'm sure everybody has seen at least some of the teaser images that have been floating around the net. The clothes have shown up in a number of magazines and last month Harper's Bazaar previewed a handful of official runway images. Now I can only speak for myself, but seeing those eight or nine runway photos didn't satisfy my craving at all, quite the contrary in fact. They made me crave more. Well, now we have more and I'd say I'm satisfied.
Fabulous, no? The editing really creates a sense of excitement, of being there in the midst of it all. Watching it is actually kind of hypnotic, and even now having watched it, oh, a dozen times at least I still can't help but smile. Don't get me wrong, I'm crushed that it's been edited down to what is essentially a tease, and it sucks that we don't get to hear any of the commentary Mr. Ford was providing along with the show, but given the choice between a short video and no video at all guess which one I would choose. And btw, can I just say that I think the Karen Elson song playing over the footage is perfect for the presentation. I guess we'll never know if it was actually used in the show, but it's a great fit.

Before I go into the collection I have to get this out of the way first: I HATE the quality of the photography. I know that it was intentional, but I don't think all of the photos do justice to the clothes or the women wearing them.
Now, I tried to be brief and concise while writing about this collection, I really did, but it just wasn't working. Each look left me with something to say, so bear with me...

  • The first look confuses me. Maybe it's the kind of thing you need to see in person, but I'm afraid I just don't get it looking at this picture and the video.
  • Love the painted fringe dress on Liya. Something about it combined with the big, intricate updo and the bohemian-esque earrings gives me a kind of mid-Sixties vibe. It's such a dramatic look.
  • The smokings on Emmanuelle Seigner and Lauren Hutton are pretty much perfection, end of story.

  • I'm in love with the entire look on Natalia Vodianova. From the pompadour down it's got a haughty sex appeal that really works. The skirt has a gorgeous silhouette.
  • I like the dress in different shades of pink, but seeing something so femme and girlish from Tom Ford is kind of throwing me for a loop.
  • The purple chiffon wrap dress on Joan Smalls is beautiful, although I don't know if I love the color of that bolero with it. That's also not the best picture of her, and she's gorgeous so there's really no excuse.
  • Karen's cobalt fringed dress is easily one of the most striking pieces in the collection. It's such a simple design when you think about it, but between that amazing color and the all-over fringe it makes for a look that's hard to forget. I think I preferred it with stockings the way it was styled in Vogue.

  • I die for Rachel Feinstein. She looks so sexy and vibrant and gorgeous. That red hair suits her perfectly, in fact the first time I saw her photo it didn't even dawn on me that it's not her normal hair color.
  • The words leopard print pant suit don't necessarily paint the prettiest of pictures, but damn is that suit fierce. I never say fierce, so you know it must be true if that's the only word that I can think of.
  • I don't really love Julia Restoin-Roitfeld in her leather skirt suit. The pieces are nice, but the whole look with the Winehouse hair, raccoon eyes and fishnet boots renders it a little vulgar.
  • Anja's white suede trench coat on the other hand is gorgeous, though highly impractical if you ever want to venture outside of your walk-in closet. Nice touch tying the coat in with his Private Blend fragrance White Suede.

  • I don't love the saharienne kind of look on Jac, but I think it's really just the color that's bothering me. Olive green really doesn't relate to anything else in the collection.
  • The white skirt suit is beautiful. I love the longer silhouette, and I'd really love to see a close-up of the stitching on the skirt.
  • The only complaint that I have about Chanel Iman in an overblown Prince of Wale's check smoking is that I might have preferred it with a fedora instead of that cloche. Other than that the suit is fantastic. So, so chic.
  • I really like Abbey's Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker look. It's no the most exciting outfit in the collection, but it's styled really well. It's got a great silhouette, too.

  • The look on Karlie and the leopard dress that came next seem like filler looks to me. They're not bad, they're just lost in a sea of impact-making looks.
  • Carolyn Murphy's look is impeccable, definitely one of my favorites. It's very simple, bordering on boring, but the styling of that little black dress really takes it somewhere else. I'm a sucker for an open back.
  • The dress on Daria has already appeared in two editorials, once in American Vogue and once in Vogue Paris, and both times it looked amazing. The silhouette is just so unlike anything I would expect from Tom Ford. Here though the shape has none of the drama or precision that it did in the magazines. I also don't like those shoes with it.

  • I didn't really love the metallic embroidered jacket Freja's wearing when it first appeared in Vogue. Even though it recalls Ford's last YSL collection it read as a little too dated to me. Apparently it's grown on me since because I really like the look here. The jacket photographs beautifully.
  • The styling on Victoria Fernandez is great. Lingerie under mannish tailoring seems like such a cliche, but clearly it works, and I'm digging the cat eye shades under the veil. You don't see enough veils these days.
  • Love Stella's outfit. That jacket is stunning. For some reason when I first saw images of this look I assumed the skirt was floor length. I think I might have loved it even more if it was.
  • Beyonce is wearing a lot of look, and I guess that suits her personality. The dress itself looks gorgeous in that shot. Unfortunately the lighting didn't do Bey any favors.

  • I still can't make up my mind about the gown on Marisa Berenson. On the one hand it looks like something that Travis Banton might have designed for Marlene Dietrich; on the other I'm not so sure that that's a bad thing.
  • I wish we could see all of Rita Wilson's look, although from what I do see I think I like it.
  • The tuxedo on Edita is, like all of the other suits in this collection, perfection. Cummerbunds are the new belt.
  • The painted fringe dress on Du Juan is actually the one look I'm having the most trouble making up my mind about. The print and colors are really beautiful and so unusual looking, but I'm not 100% sure that the whole look isn't too much.

  • I didn't really love the kimono-sleeved le smoking jumpsuit worn by Lou Doillon when I saw it on Lara Stone in W magazine last month. Seeing it now it takes on a whole new feeling. On the right woman, in this case Lou, that piece is unbelievably striking. It has entrance maker written all over it.
  • Julianne looks fabulous in her fringed and feathered gown, and judging by the picture she knew it. She was so fabulous in the video.
  • Considering that Lisa Eisner's gown is one of the simplest pieces in the entire collection it also happens to be one of the most dramatic, I think. That sharp column of black, barely touching the body inside and plunging in the front to show the top of the corset is so unlike anything that's been seen on a red carpet in god knows how many years that I can't help but love it. A dress like that is the perfect antidote to Marchesa-syndrome. To me it's the most Gucci-esque piece in the collection.
  • And finally there's Daphne Guinness in a look that only Daphne Guinness could ever pull off. It's so over the top, from the two-tone bouffant and patented Tom Ford smokey eye (which is a good look for her) to the feathered shoes. I love how the gown just seems to melt on her body. It's a lot of look, even more than Beyonce's, but it suits her perfectly.
Not that I'm surprised or anything, and I doubt any of you reading this are either, but I really ended up loving this collection. As plenty of people have already pointed out it's nothing new or radical, but that was never what Ford was about anyway. His strength was always his ability to take something old, or classic, or retro and rework it for the here and now. But while none of this is new or radical I do think that the overall feel of the collection is very fresh. These 32 looks are extremely dressed up and "done", which is the antithesis of what fashion and style have been about for years now. I love that the collection is unapologetic about that. Conviction to a mood is classic Tom Ford. As for the clothes themselves I think that there's a great variety. Not only are these clothes addressing women of different sizes, shapes and ages, they're addressing different styles and tastes as well. The woman who is going to wear the black column gown worn by Lisa Eisner probably wouldn't be the type to wear the sequined mesh sheath on Beyonce, just like the woman who'd choose a black silk tuxedo for an evening event probably wouldn't go near a ruched ballet pink georgette dress like the one Rinko Kikuchi has on. I think that's one of the best things about this collection, that rather than just talking about addressing different women Mr. Ford actually did. It's not about one specific look for one specific kind of customer like his work at Gucci and YSL was. At the same time though you can clearly see echoes of his Gucci and YSL women throughout, although to me it doesn't look distinctly like either of them, which I think that is a good thing. There is enough difference to separate his past from his present which definitely gives him license to play in the future. I'm extremely excited to see where Ford will take this collection now that he's back to doing what he does best, and while I know that this show is supposed to have been a one-off kind of event that doesn't mean I'm not holding out hope that Tom will change his tune and take up a more permanent residence on a runway of his own. If there's one thing that his hiatus from the fashion ranks made perfectly clear it's that fashion really isn't as exciting when he's not apart of it.

video and images from