Wednesday, January 26, 2011

All the Pretty Clotheshorses

I've often wondered about the particular sort of media magic that conspires to create style stars out of rising actresses. The phenomenon often results in a new career for the anointed girl: suddenly she is no longer expected to act or in some other faculty appear in films, but instead she just graces red carpets and perches on the front row at every international fashion week for the style blogosphere and glossy press to photograph and gawk at. Her calling card is What She's Wearing, and the most coveted poll positions seem to go to the fashion 'it' girls who ostensibly don't employ a stylist.

The trajectory of said girl's career is usually quite formulaic and can be traced through simple repeatable steps, the order of which can vary:

1. Appear in B or C list film, usually aimed toward a youthful, female demographic.
2. Date young, rakish male costar/actor/musician or combo of all three.
3. (Optional) Appear in subsequent forgettable films.
4. Start wearing really killer designer clothes and perfectly curated 'street style' ensembles.
5. Hang out with Karl Lagerfeld.
6. Be photographed as Karl Lagerfeld arm candy.
7. Launch some sort of clothing line/design collaboration/branding effort that doesn't really seem in line with your personal style, but we all sort of shrug and forgive the transgression. You've got to pay for all of those wardrobe changes, after all, and acting ain't doing it.

Eventually her identity as a clotheshorse totally obscures the B or C list film that shot her into the limelight from obscurity to begin with: she is just there, an established character on the scene -- her presence is anticipated because her sole role has become wearing clothes well. However, I'm always left with a vague distaste, the wool has been pulled over my eyes by fashion publicists: I search in vain to recall why I started caring to begin with.

Of course, there is the odd exception: the gal who the fashion flocks adore whose career happens to be humming along:

And then there's the freshly-anointed:

Emma Stone seems to be the newest object of affection for the image-makers. Will be muy interesante to see if she transcends her 'bro' and teen movie origins to become more than just a pretty clothes hangar.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In the mood...

I've lately revisited a favorite film: Wong Kar-Wei's In the Mood for Love:

The film is notable for the storytelling, pace, romantic tension...and the clothes.

Maggie Cheung's cheong sam are the film's visual signature. My mom had an orange silk cheong sam, slit scandalously high, in a florid '70s pattern. I would kill to still have that dress.

Also, his time-traveling follow-up, 2047: Same saturated palette, 1960's, vaguely Palm Springs motif, and the high-collared cheong sam costume. Love a film with a great wardrobe!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Carey Mulligan's Deeply Resonating Nothingness

I wasn't hugely shocked to see Carey Mulligan was on the cover of Vogue, since she's fallen into Anna Wintour's Brit starlets hall of fame (these girls land Vogue covers irrespective of their career trajectory; Sienna Miller and Keira Knightley have like 10 covers between 'em). Still, it was a curious profile. The writer, Joan Juliet Buck, paints a portrait of a very simple, plainspoken gal with simple, plain pop tastes and a 'tude so unpretentious it's practically flat. Said her costar in "Never Let Me Go," Andrew Garfield: “We were asked to name our favorite films, and everyone was showing off about which Michael Haneke they loved the most. Carey said, ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,’ and I woke up.”

Comments on her acting describe the exact opposite and this is precisely what is so fascinating about Carey: she can convey such profound emotional depth while having very little emotional depth personally. Even as she says she has almost no heartbreak/failure/drama to draw on, she had some brilliant turn as world-weary in Chekhov's The Seagull that was described as "almost unbearably affecting." From whence comes the power of her style? Mark Romanek, who directed her in the aforementioned "Never Let Me Go," described her essential talent as a "deeply resonant minimalism." OK, now we're getting somewhere!

The photos contribute to this theory significantly: Mulligan is pretty and yet sort of nondescript or blank. You take nary one look at her curious little face before moving right over to the clothes or the costume. This beauty that's easily overwritten by other things seems like it could be really useful for an actress, if you consider the inverse: when I saw the trailer for "The Tourist" yesterday, I found, at this point, the effect of Angelina Jolie's glamour and celebrity so overwhelming as to be unnavigable. As the viewer, it's enough to make you want to throw in the towel.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Blog to brand

Watch out GOOP...seems that lifestyle sites named with memorable, if not lyrically-pleasing acronyms are the new brand-building bling of choice. Welcome NAAG. Naaagggg. Named for model Agyness Deyn and her friend Fiona Byrne. One thinks they could have synthesized the more lovely 'Fioness' or even 'Agna'. A double 'A' to me recalls professional associations or affinity groups.

NAAG is no doubt the brainchild of some big city PR agency and should serve as the first step toward the personal-brand-building of its model founder. Not that there's anything wrong with that. 'est scooped that GOOP was produced by a PR agency. We were disillusioned yes, but maintain the blind conviction that Gwyn is heavily involved (except for the San Francisco bucket list which killed the suspension of disbelief by having Gwyneth recommend the Clift Hotel...ewww).

I like NAAG's rough photo collages and the kooky downtown kid vibe is cute, but not something I'd readily identify with. Stuff is 'off the shizzle' and the claim that 'So there's a couple things we think you should do once in your lifetime. Eat a meatball...' is just befuddling. Since when did meatballs become a singular life experience? A few posts read like flat-out advertorials and I doubt Agyness has much to do with what is going on here besides lending her considerable hipster/cool kid currency (which I assume the lingo is meant to recall??), and maybe she passes a cursory glance over the selection of smoking slippers.

Conclusion: Might not earn a spot in my Bookmarks menu but I'll check back in a few to see if the content starts to hit its stride.

Freedom ain't free!

Jonathan Franzen and JPMorgan Chase's "Sapphire" in the September issue of Vogue:

The best bit:
Romance might seem like an odd—even dangerous—word for a male author to use with regard to his female protagonist. But writing full-blooded women of complexity and fallibility has never been a problem for the 51-year-old author, whose deliberate manner, salt-and-pepper hair, and classic tortoiseshell glasses belie a certain essential boyishness.
This is what is so lovable about Vogue: you'll never catch 'em straying too far from their basic duty -- to find the romance in a subject's looks.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Go Tavi go!

The baby stylist the world has been waiting for! Watching the behind the scenes of Tavi's first pro gig on a shoot for BlackBook magazine that stars the Real Housewives of New Jersey's Christine Staub. The use of Native American blankets throughout is inspired indeed.

Swan Song

Very excited for Darren Aronofsky's new film, Black Swan:

Ballet costumes by the Mulleavy sisters!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More digital ramblin'

Come September 2, you will be able to shop Zara online. Despite my pledge to do '6 items or less' in September, this development could be destructive to the minimalism I am trying to cultivate. (Also, perhaps purchasing new all 6 of said items negates the anti-consumerism principles of such a campaign...)

I don't particularly enjoy the process of shopping in retail chains, so I welcome Zara's foray into the online space. I only wonder why it took them so long. Zara is a Spanish company and when I lived in Madrid I remember that they seemed as ubiquitous as Starbucks does here. You couldn't walk a block without running into a Zara, or one of it's spinoff brands - Home, Kids, Homme...and so forth. Also the look turnover is unprecedented -- every week brings seeming truckloads of new wares.

Some other online retail sites I've enjoyed:

-Madewell (all over the retail zeitgeist lately)

-Agent Provocateur (not very sfw, but the best "is-it-swimwear-or-actually-lingerie??" swimwear - comment provocateur!

-Archive Vintage (expensive but very well curated)

(Editor's note**: Though she doesn't wear much black, I picture 'est in this number.)

-Azalea SF: (a Hayes Valley boutique with an eCommerce arm)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

J'aime mon carré (part deux)

Just discovered the knot tutorials on and subsequently had a manic episode of doin' 'em all.
Fruits here:

J'aime mon carré (I love my scarf)

Hermes has launched such a hip homage to scarf-dom with, which marks its collaboration with Colette in Paris. Interestingly, some of the most traditional brands -- most notably, Burberry -- have been first to experiment with bringing the playfulness and creativity of clothes online. Unlike other, static forms of marketing, websites make fashion fantasies interactive (e.g. when Joscelin was lured into branding herself with a Uniqlo puffcoat). Plus it's always a treat to see It Girls wearing scarves without abandon!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cool dad update!

How did I miss this? Not only has Liam Gallagher's menswear line, Pretty Green, launched, but it's wildly successful?! Just took a gander at the look book and it is as gloriously nondescript as anticipated. Liam's modeling the absolute hell out of it, though!

Thankfully his sights are set beyond this corner of the camo parka/graphic tee market: "A lot of girls are asking if we will be doing a range for them and the answer to that is yes, once we have got rid of all the lads' stuff." Additionally, he said his new album will be “the best record you’ll hear for the next 50 years.” God bless 'im!

Liam, thank you for giving me so much to LIVE for.

Made of Hungry Scarves

via Jak & Jil

Saturday, July 31, 2010

American Pastoral

Ah, farm living.

I'm housesitting a lovely cottage and farm, post grad-school dress rehearsal, and part of the package involves the care of a herd of sheep, two horses, two dogs, and about 15 chickens. For an urban-dweller reared in the suburbs, taking eggs from laying hens is quite exotic - also strangely guilt-inducing. (Note: Chickens may have tiny brains but they look at you with a knowing resentment and semi-hostile capitulation when you take their eggs.)

Why the strong resurgence in interest in farming, urban agriculture, and living a provincial, organic, back-to-nature lifestyle?  Karl Lagerfeld (now famously) affected the 'farm chic' sensibility with his 2010 spring show, staged in a faux barn. Models in deconstructed 'rustic' Chanel tweeds and (horrible) heeled clogs is quasi-parodic, which I guess could be the point:

Very Petite Trianon. Of course, M. Antoinette was the original city-girl-gone-country:

I suppose the fetishization of all that is natural could be evidence of a larger societal move back to the essentials. With our bubbles burst, recession un-surmounted and finally coming to terms with the consequences of decades of excess, city dwellers are finding solace in the trappings of simpler times.  This trend has had sartorial reverberations too:

Trendy, yes -- especially if you are a British model attending the Glastonbury music festival ('wellies' tag). But mostly practical.

The boyfriend jean makes great work-wear.

And who knew that 'plaid button-down' is its own category on ShopBop?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rabbit Rabbit

A new month's bout to dawn, which means a new installment of "Today I'm Wearing" on the UK Vogue site. It's a simple enough concept: they pick a girl with compelling style to chronicle her outfit every day.

It's everything I want in a blog: consistency, scopophilia, a cute lil' It Girl, mind-numbing personal style details, etc. In theory, I find vanity blogging to be the pitiable offering of an overindulged and narcissistic generation, but in practice, I rather enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

**UPDATE:** the greatest espadrille of our time

Somewhere between distressed and delighted to discover that MYMU espadrilles (which I'd previously called the greatest 'drille of our time) were on GILT sale today for a fraction of the cost.

I didn't buy them, nor had I ever really planned to, but I've uncharacteristically plotted their brief career -- from appearing in the Wren lookbook (after which I emailed the Wren designer to ask for their name) to following the birth of their website (dutifully checking back til their launch) and becoming crestfallen at their absurd price (somewhere in the $150 range, originally, if I remember correctly). The reason for my distress over their slashed cost at Gilt is that it confirms the sad meditation of consumers today: what are things really worth? Certainly not what they say it is. It's a burden and an opportunity.

I should probably embrace a less consumerist mindset, though, like Jos: she just started the "six items or less" project!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gender Trouble

If I had said anything of the kind I should have been prying and searching into the secret economies of a house which to the stranger wears so fine a front of gaiety and courage. - Woolf

Amazingly sparse Jil Sander ad. Looks like the architect uniform.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bonne fete de la Bastille!

How better to celebrate the birth of modern France than through pics of its cinematic threesomes? Vive la France!

Monday, July 12, 2010

I had a jukebox graduate for first mate

She couldn’t sail but she sure could sing
I pushed the b-52 and bombed em with the blues
With my gear set stubborn on standing
I broke all the rules, strafed my old high school
Never once gave thought to landing
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd
But when they said come down I threw up
Ooh-ooh growin’ up

Celebrating AMERICA at Cordarounds.