I was never invited to the Comme des Garcon show when I attended Paris fashion weeks. Even when I worked under Amy Spindler at the New York Times who would make a call to the CDG office to request one for me—it didn’t happen. She was arguably one of the most powerful fashion journalists of her time, so if she couldn’t make it happen then no one could. Despite sneaking into one of the shows to see what all the reverence was about and being educated in Yohji, Comme and Undercover by my editors one of which was Franz Ankone, I never really got it. At the time I was into more conventional fashion. That didn’t mean I couldn’t get the intellectual messages at a runway show. I was a big fan of Miuccia Prada, Hussein Chalayan and Alexander McQueen all of whom presented runway shows that made goose bumps appear all over your skin and you left with a strong message that you couldn’t shake. I was clear that a fashion show was about more than the clothing but Comme des Garcon was odd in a way I couldn’t understand. I suppose it was like looking at a Picasso and not getting his cubist interpretations. I just wasn’t a fan.
But today at The Met’s Costume Institute’s preview, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcon Art of the In-Between, I saw a true artist’s retrospective. It’s easy enough to make a dress that follows the human form, but to use the form as a means to explore a subject is as cerebral as it gets. And to wear a CDG creation is a social statement not an enhancement of a female body. That is not to say that they are not a viable at retail. The “Play” collection with it’s whimsical heart logo on sneakers and t-shirts has become a favorite with teens. The Dover Street Market (an international shop) is a construct of Rei’s partner and sells both Comme and other highly regarded fashion brands like Gucci.
Today at the preview the former ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy spoke as well as the Costume Institute’s curator, Andrew Bolton. The exhibition space was spare with white washed walls and alcoves which displayed mannequins in different groupings. The simplicity of the space and the way it is displayed with bright natural light added to the impact of the artful fashion. Dates were not given to the looks to underscore timelessness.
My opinion of Rei Kawakubo and Comme des Garcon has evolved as I have. She uses clothing to express her message and pushes the boundaries of the normal. Her work challenges us and we need that more than ever. In our instafame-fast-fashion-botox-Kardashian world, seeing this retrospective is a worthwile respite and reminder that we must think and see deeper, question the normal, and live with more meaning than what is on the surface. Continue reading
courtesy of Uniqlo
“People need a real reason to buy clothing”, said a Uniqlo spokesperson at the fall/winter press announcement event. In a world where our closets look like boutiques stockpiled with every clothing category—there is nothing truer. A good reason to eek out some space in the drawer may be fashion innovator, JW Anderson who is now collaborating with the Japanese mass retailer known for the ubiquitous down jacket. Collaborations in fashion are as common as bread and butter and announcements like this seem like a marketing ploy to drum up short term business. But Uniqlo doesn’t partner indiscriminately. Case in point their relationship with model Ines DeLa Fressange, whose navy blue Frenchie separates are a hit with women for several years.
Uniqulo’s uniform approach to dressing attracts a steady flow of customers, whether for their feather light $69 portable down jackets, or “heat tec” underwear which sells out frequently during a particularly cold New York winters. The latest marriage will hopefully bring a bit of an edge to the simplified basics. “When I think of things that are perfectly made, that people have spent a lot of time considering: it’s a difficult job, and I think Uniqlo does it very well. Working with Uniqlo is probably the most incredible template of democracy in fashion and it’s nice that my designs can be accessible to anyone on all different levels,” said Anderson in a short film clip screened at the gathering attended by journalists and influencers. Not a bad idea from the slow retailer with favorites like a ribbed cotton mock neck for $10, pencil jeans for $39. Even more interesting if Anderson will bring a bit more urban edge to the affordable Uniqulo fold—from the looks seen at the gathering, it's a done deal.
When my husband insisted on a Bluestar “cook’s” range that I’ve now named “the dragon” because of the many burns received while putting food in its mouth, I could not convince him otherwise. His point was that it would be the centerpiece of the kitchen and increase the value of our house not to mention it may help in becoming more chef than home cook. I thought that spending $8,000 on an oven range was basically insane. But I was clearly wrong. Seems oodles of people spend 5 or more times that figure and need their appliances to also look the part too.
Tonight I was thrown off my pirch thinking we had a top of the line range in our humble Brooklyn home. I had no idea that ovens could rise to $50,000. But that is just what one will find at PIRCH, a new concept in luxury appliance showroom which debuted tonight in Soho. It’s sprawling élite space carries brand names like Viking, Thermidor, Bosch and more. But that’s not all. To make your decision process immersive, you can arrange to actually test out the items before purchase. As in—- taking a shower or cooking a meal on one of the fancy machines. So buyers won’t have to endure the pains that I have had to with my fire-breathing dragon which now turns every single cake that has gone into its orifice into a charcoal blackness.
There is a reason Hermes, the French purveyor of beautiful things and the gold standard for luxury goods remains on top of the luxury heap. They are at the pinnacle in terms of profits, desirability and awesome products because they set themselves apart. They are the leaders—while the fashion bandwagon is standing on their head to get a sliver of attention from millennials, Hermes is content to surround themselves with the smart and accomplished who are also the persona of their customer.
The brand’s instagram feed is experimental and whimsical and appeals to the artful and intelligent who also has the means to invest in their slow brand of products. Slow to produce; time is a commodity that is needed to wait on lists to acquire a Birkin or a finely crafted settee. One such insta-post shows handsome male models at the beach around a cubist sandcastle. Promoting the clothing seems secondary to the scene which is captioned “be the king of the castle—time to take the throne.#Hermesmanifest.” Or another post shows a model swinging too and fro with feet teasing boots and shoes. In a smoky mirrored room the video titled,”The Swing” plays. The brand is not immune to hashtags and promoting products but somehow you don’t ever feel a blatant marketing ploy.
I was invited to the ” HermesHereElsewhere” installation which was a night to show off their latest home and furniture goodies, and there was no question I would attend. At Cedar Lake event space in Chelsea the artist, Robert Wilson, set up a surrealist circus for the night. There were taxidermy parrots sitting on the shoulders of men who sat at a jewelry cabinet, so elaborate and refined, the imagined purchaser can only be a middle eastern queen. Past the flying sofa with a lady reclining on the ground grasping for feathers, another room revealed wall to wall video screens. Smack dab in the middle was a undulating dancer on a platform in this completely circular massive space.
My favorite part of these events is the well-heeled ladies and gentlemen who attend. I’m never sure of who they are—many have come from the mother ship in Paris. But they are quiet, sophisticated and exude a self assurance that I don’t see very much press events where the object is to flank the room with celebrities in skimpy clothing. The room is quiet and respectful and you feel something important is happening. I do note Robert Chavez, CEO for the Americas and Alexi Dumas, the Creative Director and part of the dynasty in attendance but the un-trendiness seems completely on trend. I always feel at home and completely grateful to have seen the show.
Ever watch reality TV shows like “Naked and Afraid” or “Alaskan Bush People” ? Our modern lives are so disconnected from the natural world that it’s fascinating to drop all traces of our technology laden cushy lives to see how a butt-naked couple survives 2 weeks on bugs and berries. Granted there is the safety net of the film crew who no-doubt swoop in with doctors should a naked life be in danger. “Alaskan Bush People” explore the lives of the Brown family —blase’ when face to face with the producer’s iPhone for the first time. They meet daily challenges of bears tearing up their house, broken boat motors, getting stuck on a desolate road with a flat tire and cutting down trees for lumber to make their house. They love every minute of their daily strife and despite their difficulties. But I digress…
Our lost connection to the natural world parallel another world— that of mechanical watches. Watches are no longer a necessity— they are a luxury. I’ve been told over and over that cell phones have replaced the need for a wrist watch. However I take exception to that point and find a flick of the wrist reveals the time of day faster than pulling out that other machine. But watch aficionados are in love with the intricate workings of these tiny machines and appreciate it on many levels. It’s so much more than a watch. It signifies slowing down, the love of handmade objects, and getting back to basics.
In Switzerland, white-coated craftsmen labor at their workbench with tweezers looking through a magnifying glass and placing minuscule gears and pins in sequential order to create movements and assembling the end product—the watch itself. The lengthy process takes weeks sometimes months to complete and is what makes the piece an object of desire. The admiration is based on time-honored methods passed down through the generations. It sits on a wrist as a sign of defiance to modern age—signaling a return to things that matter, and a respect for the past.
But it is a business—watches need to be sold and the Horlogerie world has minions of marketers who are never at a loss for platforms and ideas to drum up sales. To that end the marketers conjured up Madison Avenue Watch Week for NYC and this is it’s sixth year. The find time starts on April 13th—sponsored by the most prestigious brand names that span the Swiss generations. They will show Basel’s latest releases to the well-heeled enthusiasts, sometimes partnering with a former astronaut as with Breitling’s Emergency Watch or a wildlife photographer as with Jaeger LeCoultre whom express their admiration for the timely world.
Interested? The elegant fun is happening up down the pristine streets of Madison Avenue. The champagne will be flowing and the stories too.
Last night Hublot kicked off the celebrations with a cocktail party at their boutique. Hublot does things in a big way just like their watches, so they timed the release of Aaron Sigmond’s DRIVE TIME: Watches Inspired by Automobiles, Motorcycles, and Racing with the event. Aaron was on hand to sign copies of the book ( see event photos below). Scheduled events are throughout the week so check in with the main website below.
To request an invitation:
To request an invitation and see listing of watch brands:
The Milan fashion runway is off to a wacky start with antics to cut through the noise and create brand buzz. Fashion designers work intensely at making their show a fashion happening. Below are highlights from the catwalk commotions with a wink to whimsy.
Crystal Light (Moschino designed by Jeremy Scott)
Fire Sale Chic (Moschino for Jeremy Scott)
“The Revenant”— trophy cape. (Prada)
Where’s Waldo? (Fendi)
The Cat in the Hat Comes Back— in fox fur that is (Fendi)
“Captain Kirk, my sensors indicate I’ve seen this before” (Diesel)
“Are friends electric?” Gary Neuman gear. (Diesel)
A cardboard box and a subway grate completes this look (Prada)
Big Bird goes blue ( Byblos)
Moth eaten Momma ( Etro)
DIY is where it’s at and face it— You Tube instructs everyone from a plumber to a rocket scientist to be a fine artist or fashion designer. No longer do we have to stay in our lanes. Style conscious people—practically the entire universe—want a personalized approach to almost everything they purchase. Individuality is key. It’s that inner fashion designer and fashion critic in all of us that is driving the trend. So it makes perfect sense to give consumers the power to create and fine tune an item into a one-of-a-kind “designed by Mimi” (insert name), bespoke—thing.
Dizaind is the latest to bring design into the hands of the consumer. On Dizaind’s web site you, the purchaser, decide on leathers, colors, handles, and metals creating a one-of-a- kind piece that you won’t see everyone sporting on the subway. Mix and match with their easy on-line tool with the 30 colors and two types of leathers. They’ve got 7 shapes of bags—drawstring bucket, top handle, tote, zipper clutch, double handle satchel. All the basic shapes for a respectable handbag. The prices of bags start at $300.