Category Archive 'Fashion'
12 Sep 2015

Why Americans Today Dress Like Slobs

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ShenMiners1930s
Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, corner of Main & Centre in front of Miners’ National Bank, circa 1940: coal miners on their days-off would customarily wear suits, neckties, and hats.

The Washington Posts’s Roberto A. Ferdman discusses with University of Nevada Fashion historian Dierdre Clemente the fashion triumph of “casual dress.”

There’s this fashion theorist who wrote in the 1930s about how in capitalist societies, clothing serves as this way to jump in and out of socioeconomic class. Now, he was writing at a time when people were still really trying to jump up, and could feign wealth. You could buy a nice-looking suit and make it seem like you were a lot more wealthy than you actually were then. But in the second half of the 20th century, what we’ve seen is people doing just the opposite. …

There’s something called collective selection. And what it is, is the idea that no longer is it the rich people telling the poor people how to dress, no longer is it that the poor people want to wear what the rich wear. Nowadays it’s a group decision. Because class is so wishy washy today, since everyone thinks that they’re middle class, the collective selection is what is acceptable in different scenarios — the office, the church, the classroom, etc. It’s decided by the group.

Read the whole thing.

26 Apr 2015

Karl Lagerfeld

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Lagerfeld

Everything Karl Lagerfeld hates. Sound example:

“I hate rich people when they try to be communists or socialists. I think it’s obscene.”

23 Apr 2015

Hating Lilly Pulitzer

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A Lilly Pulitzer dress.

Megan Garber collects criticisms of the Lilly Pulitzer clothing line and then opens up on it herself, sounding rather like (a more clever) Tom Buchanan denouncing Jay Gatsby, for “selling what cannot, in fact, be bought.”

I’d, of course, never even heard of Lilly Pulitzer, and I have some difficulty perceiving a connection between all those vivid pastels and what Mr. Burke used to refer to as “the unbought grace of life,” but reading this piece in the Atlantic I could not help but think, that if these women’s duds succeed in upsetting lefties so much, Lilly Pulitzer must be doing something right.

In January, the clothing-and-lifestyle brand Lilly Pulitzer announced that it would collaborate with Target, releasing a collection of 250 pieces of apparel, accessories, and home decor by way of the discount chain. This weekend, the results of that collaboration were put up for sale in Target stores and on its website. Both of these events would seem to be innocuous: yet another instance of the discount retailer’s collaboration with a high-end fashion brand, of luxury goods made accessible to the masses, of fashion (relatively) democratized. A win-win! Actually, a win-win-win!

There was something different, however, about this particular launch. #LillyforTarget ended up, remarkably … angering people. Lots of people.

The collaboration angered, first of all, fans of Lilly Pulitzer, whose clothes have doubled as a “preppy uniform” for decades. It angered Target customers who tried, and failed, to grab $40-ish “Lillys” during a sale that was meant to span several weeks and instead spanned mere hours. It angered Target executives, who were disappointed in the performance of the chain’s website during the sale and indignant that the products they’d intended for their customers were being resold on eBay for more than twice the original cost.

Most interestingly, though, #LillyforTarget provoked the vitriol of fashion critics and business-minded brand-watchers. “I have never seen a woman wearing Lilly Pulitzer who would not have looked better in a ratty flannel bathrobe,” the business writer Megan McArdle confessed. The fashion critic Robin Givhan noted that “the classic Lilly Pulitzer dress comes in shrill shades of yellow and pink that are vaguely infantilizing. They are clothes that can be shrunk down and worn by 7-year-old girls without changing a single design element—if there were actual design elements to change. But there are not. …

[I]n part, it’s the aesthetics of Pulitzer’s clothes. Which are, with their festively flora-fauna-ed prints, the sartorial equivalents of the people who can’t stop talking about the juice cleanse they’re on. They are perky, insistently so. They are self-absorbed, aggressively so. Your retinas aren’t currently up for seeing some bubble-gum-pink toucans, their bills interlocked in an explosion of avian paisley? Lilly Pulitzer does not care. Lilly Pulitzer does not even think to ask.

The broader criticism, though, is the performance of identity that the Pulitzer brand represents. “Lilly” is not about luxury; it is about privilege. There is an important distinction between the two, Givhan notes. The brand, she writes, “suggests an advantage of birth. The clothes stir up scrapbook notions of ancient family trees, summer compounds, boarding school uniforms, and large, granite buildings inscribed with some great-great-grandfather’s name. Lilly Pulitzer represents something that money cannot buy.”

Which is another way of saying that Pulitzer’s clothes evoke not just wealth, but class. They speak to a status that is conferred rather than earned, and that cannot—with apologies to hard work and good luck and all the other vehicles of the American dream—be fully democratized. The garments are evidence in that sense not (just) of conspicuous consumption, but rather of privilege as it plays out as an economic system. They nod to, and then politely ignore, Thomas Piketty. Those whimsy-dripping pineapples, those insouciant peacocks, the designs that are often described as “eye-popping”—they are evidence not just of “resortwear” gone mainstream, but also of the ease of living enjoyed by those who can use the term “resortwear” unironically. These are clothes that are worn by people for whom life is, in relative terms, a permanent vacation.

Read the whole thing… and marvel.

LilyPulitzer
Typical Lilly Pulitzer patterns.

31 Jan 2015

100 Years of the Perfect Female Body

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PerfectFemaleBody

See how much the “perfect” female body has changed in the course of 100 years. greatist.com

16 Jan 2015

For the Ladies: Baba Yaga Shoes

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From Hello Tailor.

Hat tip to Leah Libresco.

13 Jan 2015

Aesthetic Confusion

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Tweet71

14 Nov 2014

I Hate New York, Part 2

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All-GlassBathroom

The Times also describes a developing fashion for all-glass high-rise bathrooms.

Among the many vertiginous renderings for the penthouse apartments at 432 Park Avenue, the nearly 1,400-foot-high Cuisenaire rod that topped off last month, is one of its master (or mistress) of the universe bathrooms, a glittering, reflective container of glass and marble. The image shows a huge egg-shaped tub planted before a 10-foot-square window, 90 or more stories up. All of Lower Manhattan is spread out like the view from someone’s private plane.

Talk about power washing.

The dizzying aerial baths at 432 Park, while certainly the highest in the city, are not the only exposed throne rooms in New York. All across Manhattan, in glassy towers soon to be built or nearing completion, see-through chambers will flaunt their owners, naked, toweled or robed, like so many museum vitrines — although the audience for all this exposure is probably avian, not human.

It seems the former touchstones of bathroom luxury (Edwardian England, say, or ancient Rome) have been replaced by the glass cube of the Apple store on Fifth Avenue. In fact, Richard Dubrow, marketing director at Macklowe Properties, which built 432 and that Apple store, described the penthouse “wet rooms” (or shower rooms) in just those terms.

Everyone wants a window, said Vickey Barron, a broker at Douglas Elliman and director of sales at Walker Tower, a conversion of the old Verizon building on West 18th Street. “But now it has to be ­ a Window.” She made air quotes around the word. “Now what most people wanted in their living rooms, they want in their bathrooms. They’ll say, ‘What? No View?’ ” …

If there’s a view, there should be glass,” [Minimalist architect John] Pawson said. “It’s not about putting yourself on show, it’s about enjoying what’s outside. Any exhibitionism is an unfortunate by-product. I think what’s really nice is that at this level you’re creating a gathering space. You can congregate in the bathroom, you can even share the bath or bring a chair in.”

On a recent Thursday, there were seven people standing in the master bathroom of an apartment on the 20th floor of 737 Park, another Macklowe project that’s a new conversion of a 1940s building by Handel Architects. (The apartment, three bedrooms in 4,336 square feet, is listed for $19.695 million.) At 21 by 11 feet, there was certainly room in the bathroom for a few more. Along two opposing walls, two toilets and two showers faced off behind glass walls. The by-now-familiar egg floated in the center of the room.

“Some people don’t mind showing a little, and some don’t mind showing a lot,” said Gary Handel, the principal of Handel Architects. “They are totally comfortable in their bodies.” …

Nine of the building’s C-line apartments expressed an even clearer idea: a wall of glass with two toilets at either end and a shower in the middle, which raised many an eyebrow among brokers and their clients because the toilets face each other. Design clarity — and a well-lit room — suggests questions about how private we want to be in our private spaces.

Jill Roosevelt, a broker at Brown Harris Stevens who has been leading her clients through a few of the new, glassy offerings, said 737 in particular sparked conversations about habits of intimacy. “It’s about how much proximity do you want to your partner who is performing these tasks?” she said. “It doesn’t affect sales, but there is always a reaction, ranging from nonchalant to amusement. It depends on how comfortable you feel with your spouse or partner. My traditional couples will say, ‘We’ll frost the glass.’ ”

One couple — “this would be the amused couple,” Ms. Roosevelt said — pondered the dueling commodes of the C-line at 737 Park with interest. “Well, I guess we could watch each other read the newspaper,” the wife said finally. …

Privacy, of course, is not an absolute value, but a value that has changed over time and circumstances, as Winifred Gallagher, an author who has written about the behavioral and psychological science of place, pointed out.

“And like everything else, the rich can buy more of it,” she said. “In the city, privacy is about shielding yourself from all the stimuli. Most of us can’t drop the shield entirely even when we’re in our own homes, because the city is right outside. But if you’re high enough, you can waltz around pretending you’re in the garden of Versailles.”

Furthermore, Ms. Gallagher added, for many the bathroom can be the focus of a lot of anxiety. “You have the scale and there’s the magnifying mirror so you don’t put your makeup on and look like a clown,” she said. “And imagine yourself striding around the bathrooms with all that glass. It puts the pressure on you to be thin and fit, which are also perks of the rich. If you’re thin and fit, why wouldn’t you have this jewel box to show yourself off in?”

Read the whole thing.

Ann Althouse observes: “the rich folk of New York don’t mind if you look at them naked while they use the bathroom… as long as you have to look way, way up.

09 Nov 2014

Plus-Size Model

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myla
Myla Dalbesio

Elle reports that Cavin Klein recently booked Myla Dalbesio to model for a new advertising campaign.

Myla Dalbesio explodes with laughter on the other end of the phone. “It’s crazy!” she exclaims. “I can’t even.”

The 27-year-old model is talking about booking her latest gig, modeling Calvin Klein underwear in the brand’s latest “Perfectly Fit” campaign, which was shot by Lachlan Bailey. “It was such a surreal moment. I cried,” she admitted.

Booking an underwear campaign for such an iconic brand would be a coup for any model. But it’s especially notable for Dalbesio, who’s what the fashion industry would—still, surprisingly—call “plus size.” (At a size 10, she’s bigger than Lara Stone, Jourdan Dunn, and Ji Hye Park, the other models featured in the campaign.)

“It’s kind of confusing because I’m a bigger girl,” Dalbesio says. “I’m not the biggest girl on the market but I’m definitely bigger than all the girls [Calvin Klein] has ever worked with, so that is really intimidating.” She wasn’t sure, she said of the shoot, what was expected from her “in terms of her size or shape.” Refreshingly, what was expected of her was the same thing that was expected of Lara Stone: to take a beautiful picture. “No one even batted an eye,” she says. “It was very cool.”

Twitchy reactions

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin [Facebook].

16 Sep 2014

Bring Back the Grizzlies

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SFGirl
Mission Hipster Chick by Wendy MacNaughton

I recently linked a hilarious account of how exactly she was once moved to purchase a $4000 jacket while out of work by Mary H.K. Choi.

That story was so good that I immediately purchased her “How-I-Came-to-My-Senses-and-Got-the-Hell-Out-of-NYC” memoir (published as a quite inexpensive eBook).

It’s only 45 pages, and I got around to reading it last night. I particularly liked her take on San Francisco.

I loathe San Francisco. Sure, it looks like Jurassic Park in places, and the fog layer is enchanting with its plumes and trellises interweaving with the leaves and lichen on the redwoods. But everything else is like if New York’s Gramercy neighborhood got a whole town. On any given night there are way too many ‘going-out shirts’ and the women dress like there was a fire sale at some emporium that only sells clam-diggers and kicky little jackets with ornamental zippers. I have never so frequently witnessed pinstripe and patchwork meeting in the middle as I have on the tragic A-line skirts of Valencia Street. Every man who isn’t contemptibly rich enough to be famous for it reminds me of Matthew Lillard’s pigtail-braided Rollerblader in Hackers. I have never tallied so many ‘Pick-Up Artist’ hats or labret piercings outside of 1996. Fashion is no more than an indication of larger trends. Certain parts of San Francisco are what happens when white people have no natural predators. [emphasis added]

05 Sep 2014

When Are Shorts Appropriate Male Apparel?

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shorts-trend

From Vox.com, a key guide:

Shorts

05 Sep 2014

Attacked and Eaten by a $4000 Jacket in Tribeca

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MaryKChoi

It happens. You walk into Griffin & Howe (or the real Abercrombie & Fitch decades ago) without the slightest intention of buying anything, and you wind up leaving with some English shotgun or Payne fly rod you couldn’t possibly afford, but which has suddenly become a cherished and essential component of your personal existence on the planet.

Women’s clothes work on women, we all understand, the same way best grade London shotguns work on men. Mary H. K. Choi, in New York magazine, delivers a quite amusing account of how it happened that an impecunious struggling writer (herself) wandered into a posh designer boutique and wound up buying a $4000 leather coat. (My God! woman, you can get a pretty decent grouse gun for that kind of money.)

I have no idea what possessed me to walk into the Rick Owens store. To call this flagship a store is hysterical. It’s a miniature fortress of solitude constrained by New York proportions that shrewdly offsets the stark, jagged cave-witch clothes inside. To the uninitiated, it’s uninviting and faintly hospital-ish. Entering is akin to arriving at the cafeteria of a new high school, where said high school is populated entirely by clones of Rihanna. It’s terrifying. You worry you might wet yourself a little.

The mystique of the store has mostly to do with the designer. Rick Owens is a tall, sinewy man with a thin nose, Old World teeth, and fantastic hair. He resembles an Egon Schiele subject and lives in a five-story Parisian mansion with his muse and business partner, Michèle Lamy. (Lamy doubles as Owens’s much older, pygmy-size, polyamorous goth wife.) Together they make $800 shirts that look like lice-infested shrouds worn by medieval serfs.

Their coats appear rough-hewn, essentially untreated hides cut into fascinating shapes of seemingly extraterrestrial origin. The moment you throw one on, however, the weight falls into a mysterious, life-affirming silhouette. The black suede, fur-lined Rick Owens motorcycle jacket I selected made me feel thinner, taller, and infinitely more interesting. I looked as if I were in on a secret. The coat was the distillation of everything I’ve ever found seductive about not only living in New York but the prospect of belonging there, too. …

I dared myself to buy that coat and then dared that coat to rebuke me. I wanted to prove that I could visit the apex of cool-rich-people New York (as opposed to the tacky, evil, overwrought rich-people New York), buy a souvenir, and not turn into a hobo. I know native New Yorkers complain all the time about how anesthetized the City is now. Still, I’ve always found living in New York deeply scary. Without a trust fund or famous parent (and even then, sometimes you need both), the odds of success are ludicrous. It’s not just the fact that you don’t have any money. It’s that money no longer makes sense. This is the part that took me forever to figure out.

Read the whole thing, which is apparently an excerpt from the young lady’s “How-I-Came-to-My-Senses-an-Got-the-Hell-Out-of-NYC” memoir (published as a quite inexpensive eBook).

30 Aug 2014

Obama’s Tan Suit

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ObamaTanSuit

The big news item yesterday was the storm of astonishment and reaction, when Barack Obama, a professional politician, dared to appear in public in a non-blue, tan suit.

I thought myself that the suit was perfectly appropriate for before Labor Day (though one could easily see that it was off-the-rack from its less-than-perfect fit). But, I wondered myself, what was with that sub-fusc grey tie?

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