Tuesday, November 20, 2007

LA Confidential & Alexander McQueen SS08 Trunk Show

The documentary Lagerfeld Confidential is extremely entertaining even if you know little about the designer. Karl’s brutal honesty is one of a kind and many words of his deserve to be written down and thought over. Without telling you too much about the documentary, let me just give you an extremely strong “must see” recommendation.

Film Forum was temporarily transformed to a fashion club because of the movie. My friend and I saw Lynn Jaeger, one of the very influential fashion journalists in this country. I actually saw Lynn a few times at Barneys New York on Madison Avenue, and I have been impressed by her personal style every time when I saw her.

An even more interesting fashion moment was the Alexander McQueen trunk show held in the meat packing district on the following Sunday.

Alexander McQueen is no doubt one of the best show masters among all designers. His design quality, to be totally honest, is not consistent, yet he never fails to deliver a grand show. When the design and the show are both strong, it will be an extremely gorgeous and touching collection. This SS08 collection is one of them.

The collection was to memorize the late Isabel Blow who discovered both Alexander McQueen (Lee, as a matter of fact) and Philip Treacy, and the clothes didn’t fail to show Isabel’s spirit and lots of Lee’s emotion.

The trunk show invitation is made of a piece of thick cardboard covered with feather prints, one of the motifs used in the collection. When I entered the showroom located in the meatpacking district overlooking the Hudson River, I was immediately energized by the crowd, the sunlight and the mini runway show setting. Aside from bumping into my old friends Alyssa (who used to work at the McQueen boutique) and Sara (who worked at the Balenciaga boutique and now Dior Homme), I noticed designer Philip Lim in his signature camel color wool coat and a navy color scarf, and the crowd was cool enough to leave him alone.

The show started with the original runway soundtrack. I remembered every single outfit from pictures online, yet looking at the clothes in real life was mind blowing. With the return of the shoulders, Lee was able to accentuate his sharp tailoring even further. The contrast between the sculptural shoulders and the tiny waist is fierce. If you remember Martin Margiela’s FW07 collection, you would be amazed by MMM’s vision. MMM is always a few seasons ahead of others, yet Lee is definitely not late in the game.

Based on my limited knowledge about McQueen’s recent collections, Lee doesn’t mess with his fabric like Miucia Prada does. (Thank God! We don’t need more toilet seats!) Lee knows his basic fabrics and he always develop his ideas around the fabric and utilize them well. Each season you would see the same silken light weight wool, wool crepe, Prince of Wales check fabric and tartan prints, although they came in different shapes and mood each season. They offer both a runway line and a commercial line each season which makes great sense. This time around, for instance, I fell in love with the short dress from the runway look, but I opted for the same style with a less dressy grey wool fabric. It’s a short dress, and I want the flexibility to wear it day and night.

The buying office at the McQueen store is very knowledgeable. Max, the business development manager at McQueen commented that they didn’t order dresses in a cotton fabric that were normally offered in spring seasons because they wrinkle. I am sure customers complained, and the team listened.

The colors are rich, the silhouettes are sharp yet the fabrics are soft. Lee depicted the perfect image of a strong yet fragile woman who probably lives in his fantasies secretly. Is it Isabel Blow?


This is the dress I pre-ordered. I love a piece of garment with an interesting idea. This dress is a backward man’s blazer. The shoulders are padded and the waist is clinched.

The dress coat looks good. Why? Because it is heavily constructed with boning! The entire bodice embraces the body like a corset. It’s too beautiful.

It reminds me one of Isabel Blow’s outfits.

The jacket is SEXY. I see Cate Blanchett in it. It’s an unusual jacket due to the boning on waist and hips. It gives you curves.

The jacket is exquisite. I love the trims in patterned leather. The surprise is the feathers peaking out under the lapel.

One of the feather dresses with a leather cut bodice.

Can you tell that the skirt is made of laser cut leather?

Friday, November 02, 2007

How much clothes does one need?

Okay. I know that I owe a new post about the Alexander McQueen trunk show, but life is really busy this week and I promise to do so this weekend.

I managed to organize my closet this week. I do that twice a year when season changes. To be honest with you, I was a litte surprised by how much clothes I had. I don't buy a lot (3-4 items per months, including socks) and I try to buy quality goods when I can but things add up. I never knew that I had about ten pairs of dress pants which would be in great use for this winter due to our dress code. I thought that I would have a crisis to get an army of suits for work...but apparently it didn't happen. Good news.
So how much does one need? Why do we keep buying? I've had a lot, and I am glad that I took the chance to figure out what I need and what are excessive. Saks just started their pre-sale (God they are bearish...they really expect a recession!?) but my goal is to stick with the basics including sweaters and some Ralph Lauren jackets. Let's see if I stick to my plan.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A few fashion moments this weekend

Sorry, guys...I won't be able to update more until tomorrow or Tuesday. But there were a few moments over the weekend that I want to share with you:

1. I saw the Lagerfeld Confidential documentary.

2. I wore my Balenciaga FW07 jacket out to the Alexander McQueen trunk show. People seemed like my outfit.

3. The trunk show was AMAZING. Lee was at his best. I'll have to tell you more about it later. Not only I saw my old friends Alyssa and Sara, but a few others......I'm not telling you who yet!

Just one little picture to thank you for checking this page out before my update.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Balenciaga FW08 trunk show impression

I arrived 15 minutes late due to a busy work day, and I found the entire crew waiting for me to wrap it up. No, not because I was special but because they didn't get as many requests for the trunk show and hence mine became the last appointment.

So now you know how "un-wearable" the collection is. For the record, the trunk show for FW07 was as crowded as Macy’s on the first day of a thanksgiving sale.

The clothes were breathtaking though. I was able to examine the laser cut radzimir dresses closely. There was a layer of foam material between the lining and the radzimir which gave the clothes a very sculptural look. Somebody on tFS earlier pointed out that the "dimples" on top of the darts looked cheap, but according to the SAs, it was part of the design. The dimples were actually quite difficult to be avoided given the thick foam fabric and the designer didn't even try to deal with it. They actually showed the volume and the thickness of the material well, aside from what Cathy Horyn guessed "reversed nipples".

The new techniques aside, it's a difficult collection to be worn in every day life. Jennifer Connelly wore it really well in a recent function and honestly that would be the only occasion the dresses might work.

Commercial offerings are extremely necessary in a season like this, and how could the Gucci Group forget about it. There were paired down versions of the dresses and tops made with soft and drapy black silk material as well as knee length skirts that had slight puffy hips. A black dress was designed with the signature puffy shoulders and draping on the back, yet the tight hips and the mini length added a bit of sexiness. I pre-ordered that dress. Another strong contender was a black mini dress with the same silhouette and structure as the runway dresses. It looked more like a piece of armor and the concept actually looked stronger in the solid black silk crepe and foam material. I didn't order it but I was curious to see how it would look on me. It had the "statement piece" potential.

The shoes were to die for. The details made them look more like art pieces displayed in a living room rather than stored on a shoe rack. The price was steep though as the cheapest version was approaching $2,000. The SAs didn’t seem worried. Given the fact that those $30,000 dresses from the FW07 collection were being snapped up by the uber rich within days, why would they be worried about the demand for the $50,000 jackets and the $3,000 shoes? The sub-prime crisis apparently has not had any impact on Gucci Group’s bottom line.

The models were the skinniest in the entire industry, but I could tell that they were just undeveloped girls. Many who argued that models were too skinny probably didn't realize that girls were built differently from women with curves……well, more on this topic later.

The trunk show was quite satisfying and so were the mango lobster skewers. I just wish there was a bigger crowed and more energy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I'm back!

I know, I know. I have not updated my blog for a while. What could be the reason other than my job? (Yes I DO love my job!) Well, I got a new job and I have been learning everyday. I now write a lot as a research analyst and I figured that writing a little more on fashion would do no harm. Besides, when I started the new job and worked in this "business formal" environment, my wardrobe was switched to a office-appropriate mode. The bad news is that no more crazy Junya dresses, but the good news is that buying nicely made jackets is now more than ever justified: that's my armor.
The jackets will deserve their own entries later on, and now let's take care of the Vuitton business first.
The Louis Vuitton show was brilliant. I just visited the Guggenheim yesterday to check out Richard Prince's work including the "nurses". The fashion show made complete sense. When I was in architecture school, my professors always said that we needed to implement a concept all the way even through the final presentation. Jacobs and Prince nailed it. Marc Jacobs has been good at collaborations in the past, but this time he was yet pushing the boundries again. Art appropriation...with three things different. It's a bit silly. It's contemporary art.
The bags are very grown up despite the color palettes, because the jokes on the bags will make any teenager girls who carry them look laughable. (Rich parents, please take note. Also review the prints before you hand in your credit cards.) Yes, I am old enough to buy one. (I'm not sure if I am wealthy enough to buy one though. Did you see the python handles?)
A few more fashion moments in the past weeks: Valentino's last RTW show; Marc Jacobs's broken heels and one-size-too-small-look shoes; Alexander McQueen's strong shoulders and his collaborateion with Philip Treacy; and Balenciaga's flower power.
I'm going to attend Balenciaga's trunk show, and maybe McQueen's trunk show. So more reports will follow.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Was Nicolas Ghesquiere Misunderstood?

First of all, I have to give you an update on Nina Ricci. According to WWD, Nina Ricci had a handshake agreement with Reese Witherspoon to dress the actress in all media appearances exclusively. Good for Olivier Theyskens!

Now let's turn to another young and talented designer, Nicolas Ghesquiere. Many people didn't like the his FW07 collection. Some common reactions are, "it's not directional", "not Balenciaga", "big disappointment from the previous seasons". Is it?

My instinct told me that that was not the case but it needs prove. So I opened my Balenciaga book and did my homework. Not only did it confirm my thoughts, it showed me how consistent the FW07 collection is with his pre-SS06 collections.

Pictures from 1998 and 1999 collections are missing from style.com, but luckily a few are published in the Balenciaga book. Among journalists' reviews, surprisingly, the word futurism appeared many times. There was even one dress with huge padded shoulders that looks exactly like the SS07 "alien outfit". It was Ghesquiere's idea, or imagination, back in 1998, but better executed.

Then I saw pleats, patchworks, lean and mean pants, and cocoon dresses from the collections years before volume became a mainstream trend. Ghesquiere once commented that he was sure that his technique was different from Balenciaga's although he was trying to make some clothes with volume as Balenciaga did. That was before he accessed the archives. Collections from 1998 to 2005 were all based on his imagination, his view, and his interpretation on fashion especially street fashion.

Then here comes the SS06 collection. Ghesquiere studied the archives and learned Balenciaga's techniques to be able to replicate those stunning dresses. He also made those silk jackets with peeked shoulders which then became a Balenciaga signature.

He explored more on volume in FW06 before he returned to his nature and presented the "futurism" collection for SS07. It was the first time he disassociated himself from the history - don't get my wrong, apparently he learned the techniques he needed, and then he moved on.

Now let's look at the FW07 collection. Pants and jackets were still wonderful as usual. What truly amazed me were those dresses. They looked like a mess in the first second, and then it reminded me of the patchwork dresses he did years ago. The way the patterns worked together, the way the colors interacted, and the way the graphics made visual impact were extremely well thought and executed (minus the turquoise leggings). The styling is overdone and distracting, but when you look at the indivicual pieces closely and compare them with Ghesquiere's previous collections especially before SS06, it was a HUGE step forward. He has reinvented himself.

Olivier Theyskens once said that his collections were going to be like chapters in a book and they were going to develop gradually. This is exactly what Ghesquiere is doing. SS06 and FW06 were the necessary steps to learn techniques and the Balenciaga spirit (restrained structure and relaxed volume). Don't misunderstand him by those two collections. Ghesquiere is not going to sit on piles of archives but move forward.

Monday, February 26, 2007

My favorite Oscar red carpet gowns

I normally don't get excited by the red carpet fashion scene, but this year is an exception. With my favorite two designers shining with the stars, I feel that I have to share my joy with you.

Here are my faovorite outfits:

3. Reese Witherspoon in Nina Ricci

It's Nina Ricci, and it is Nina Ricci by Olivier Theyskens! Olivier is born to make breathtaking gowns, and his talent is second to none.

My only complaint is that dark purple is not Reese's best color. The color also faded away with the Oscar stage background. A simple Olivier grey would have done the perfect job!

2. Cate Blanchett in Armani Prive

Cate can pull off anything, but this Armani Prive gown is the best color she could possibly choose. With the metallic shine, the gown looked very relavant to what is happening in the fashion world now. To be honest with you, I didn't even think that it could be an Armani gown because Armani was always boring to me, including the Prive couture line. (if you don't believe me, look at Zhang Ziyi's Armani gowns. Don't they all look the same?)

1. Nicole Kidman in Balenciaga

Nobody asked her whom that dress was by, but us fashion lovers knew it was Balenciaga. To me, the metallic red trims and the way it fits the body were 100% Balenciaga. The red color made her radiant, and the bow added a twist. It's a home run. Congratulations to both Nicole and Nicolas! (Good luck to the runway show Tuesday!)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

An adventure in an icy world

When I found out that there was a Balenciaga jacket for sale in Cambridge, I decided to make a trip there while I was in Boston for an appointment with my orthodontist.

Yes, I am talking about THE paisley jacket from the SS06 collection. I own a navy one and I loved it so much that I wanted to collect a grey one as well.

It was the day after the snow storm. JFK was so frozen that my plane couldn’t take off until we waited in the plane for an hour for the ice to melt. By the time my appointment was over, Boston was warm in the sun and the ice was melting. I took the bus and then walked to the apartment where I visited the seller and tried on the jacket.

The seller was a very friendly Asian girl, a fashion connoisseur and an anthropologist living in Cambridge as a visiting scholar. We were both amused by the fact that our lines of work were not related with fashion at all, yet we both constantly changed roles between the fashion world and the real world.

The jacket fit. I wrote her a check, she handed me the jacket and then she started showing me her closet. The Pandora’s box was open! In addition to at least ten pieces of Lanvin crystal and pearl necklace in different colors and styles, many Lanvin bags, numerous pairs of shoes, and countless miumiu suits, there were two collectors’ items (well there were three before I bought the jacket): a floral “parachute” dress from Junya Watanabe’s SS03 collection, and THE patchwork dress from Balenciaga’s SS02 collection!

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I asked her twice to open the cotton dust bag to admire the Belenciaga dress closely. It was a piece of art! The patchwork pieces appeared to be sewn together randomly, yet all the fabric and colors worked in a magical way that the entire dress formed a sleek silhouette and looked extremely figure snagging. Retailed for $8,000 Euro? No wonder! What a lucky girl she was!

We then talked about fashion and the clothes we love until I realized that I had to leave to catch my Limoliner to come back to NYC.

The sidewalks were completely frozen by the time I left. I tried to maneuver my walk to move as fast I could without falling, but I eventually fell on ice. I simply couldn’t walk fast enough. It was 4PM, the wind got stronger, my feet hurt, and my muscles got tense. I didn’t eat lunch and I was thirsty. I finally made my way to Massachusetts Avenue and I tried to catch a cab. Every single of the ten drivers I asked for waved and drove by. Nobody wanted to drive on icy roads.

I was desperate. I had thirty minutes to get to the Hilton Hotel where the bus would take off. I couldn’t find a cab, and my last choice was the bus. There wouldn’t be any problems had the weather been nice, but I sensed that luck was not on my side after I was lucky enough to own that jacket. I got in a bus but it couldn’t leave the stop because there was a handicapped person who had a mental break. The driver got scared and he couldn’t do anything about it. Eventually the bus started moving, but a few minutes later it slid towards the side walk when the driver tried to avoid a crash with a small car. People started screaming, but luckily we didn’t hit anything.

I missed my bus by twelve minutes. What should I do?

You are such a foolTo worry like you do.. OhI know it's toughAnd you can never get enoughOf what you don't really need nowMy, oh myYou've got to get yourself togetherYou've got stuck in a momentAnd you can't get out of itOh love, look at you nowYou've got yourself stuck in a momentAnd you can't get out of it

Okay, calm down and think. I had two choices. Choice A, taking the Chinatown bus and safety could be compromised; choice B, staying overnight with my mother in-law in Brookline.

“Good thing I married a guy from the town of Brookline AND my mother in-law wouldn’t fly out to Florida until the day after”, I thought. I couldn’t get out of it, but I had a home to stay.

The trip back to NYC the next day wasn’t easy. That night when I called to schedule a cab to drive me from Brookline to the Hilton to catch the 6am bus home, all the cab phone lines were busy. Eventually I got one but it didn’t show the next morning. Luckily I got a cab on my way out and I managed to catch my bus. So here I am, sitting at home typing my story. I am exhausted. I wish my fashion conversation with the seller was shorter. But would I do it again if I was in the same situation? I probably still would.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Proenza Schouler for Target turns to an insider trading case

I work in the securities industry, and the Attorney General makes sure that every single of us follow the rules not to trade securities before financial information is released to the public. This is a fair market. It's not the case in the fashion industry though, at least in the case where the Proenza Schouler for Target collection was released.

Opening Ceremony has a three day special event to sell the entire collection in their Soho store. Having seen how many people line up outside of the H&M stores for the special collaborations, I arrived at the store at 11am on Friday, the opening time announced on the store's website. However, by the time I entered the store, almost all small sizes were gone. What happened? Didn't they say that they were going to have ALL styles and ALL sizes available?

Then I was informed that there was a special party the night before for "VIP"s to make purchase ahead of the crowd. In addition, the Parsons' students were allowed to arrive at 9am on Friday to make purchase. Then I knew where those size XS and size 1 clothes went.

Check on Ebay. Items are up and being marketed, at twice of the price.

What a perfect case of insider trading! While people such as me would face jail time if traded before the public does so, people in the fashion world does it as a standard practice. The Attorney General apparently overlooked this.

Feeling unfairly treated, I arrived at 9am on Saturday morning trying to be the first in store when it opens at 11am. According to Opening Ceremony, they would have restocked with the entire collection overnight.

I was the first customer inline shortly before a dozen of other girls arrived. We waited in this freezing winter morning hoping to be able to pick out the items we liked. However, while we struggled with our painful feet due to the low temperature, the "Proenza Schouler team", the friends of so and so, and the girl who claimed that she interned at the boys' company "last March" got their way in to shop early. As a result, there were very few small sizes or popular styles left when the store was open to public. Enough said. You judge.

Now let's talk about the clothes. It's no doubt the best GO collection. Being a customer on both ends of the ready to wear market though, I have to warn you that this collection is nowhere near designer quality. The cotton gaze feels too flimsy to hold the shape after one wash, and the stitching doesn't always line up. The silk material, however, is rich and vibrant to hold for long. The Jackie O coat is a pleasant surprise as the tailoring is precise. The bustiers have sizing issues so make sure try on several of them for each size (if you are in a store) to find the best fit for you.

Love it or hate it, it's a collection that excited me after a month of "fashion break" in January. I don't doubt that it's going to be a great success later in Target, so don't wait for the sale. If you missed certain items as I did, let's just wait for the Target release. Don't pay for double on Ebay because they are insiders who traded before the puclic, and they are no different from the criminals.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Nan Kempner's clothes

My husband and I just visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the exhibition featuring Nan Kempner's clothing collection.

As many of you know, fashion is my hobby and I "collect" clothes that I love. As an ultimate collector and curator, Nan Kempner showed how much a woman could do with her closet. As many ladies especially ladies with strong financial resources, Mrs. Kempner owns an enormous closet. But the closet is only the background in the exhibition: what caught people's eyes are those couture pieces either custom made for her or showed on runway and sought after by numerous fashionistas.

Nan not only acquired some of the most exquisite pieces in fashion history, but often times put them together in the most unexpected way. She acquired one piece at a time to work with her existing collection so that the massive amount of clothes eventually offered countless of choices.
Many people find her outfits over the top and I heard people complaining in the Costume Institute about how "outrageous" some outfits look. But I just secretly laughed and enjoyed every single bit of it. This is not your typical weekend get away with jeans and tshirts. This is a woman (a rich woman) with unparralell fashion sense who expressed herself so well that she appeared to be too honest.

Nan definitely enjoyed herself until the last minute of her life. The exhibit features several outfits she wore in vacations the year when she passed away, and you could tell easily that this woman lived with style.

What striked me most were the pieces made before I was born. I didn't get into fashion until recent years when I started working, so fashion before year 2000 is even kind of blur to me. (not that I lived on Mars but strict school life didn't leave me any free time other than working out my brain and body.) Looking at Nan's clothing collection was like giving myself a fashion history class. All those amazing pleats and volume showed on runway that made me wow and sigh were actually done by the masters (especially Yves Saint Laurent) many many years ago. I realized that how little I know about fashion, and then I started buying books and reading more about fashion history.

It's an exhibition I highly recommend to go. Even if fashion is not your thing, it might show you a completely different kind of life. One last thing: my dear friend Gregory recently pointed out that the $20 cover is "recommended", so obviously you don't need to pay $20 to see less than one tenth of the Met.
Let me know how you like it after you're back.