Archive for the 'Fashion' Category

I’ve regained my will to live

April 1, 2009

The Brothers Weinstein — those uber-schlumpy fatshionistas — have finally settled their lawsuit with NBC/Bravo, clearing the way for Project Runway to sashay on over to Lifetime, a move that some fans think will be the death of the series. (Bravo = cool, Lifetime = not so much…)

Actually, I’m more concerned about the status of Tim “Make It Work!” Gunn. His genuine concern for the designers is one of the most heartfelt aspects of the show, and his insights are terrific. Heidi is just frakkin’ annoying.

Anyway, I can now exhale. This bit of good news comes just as I’m trying to come to terms with life without Battlestar Galactica. (My tastes, it appears, are catholic.)

Project Runway 6: Is it in — or out?

February 2, 2009

imagesOkay, true confessions: I am a Project Runway junkie. No apologies, even though I’m probably WAY outside its target demographic. Although I didn’t discover this little Bravo Channel gem until its fourth season, I’ve been a loyal convert, and I managed to keep up my enthusiasm even though last season was about as blah as Leanne’s color palette. The Spouse even watched it with me, and he’s better at picking who’s “out” than I am.

I particularly like seeing how the designers overcome the weekly challenges and manage to create fashion out of spit and baling wire, but I secretly revel in all the snarky moments. (There’s a shallow, lip-curling DIVA locked somewhere inside me who really would like to cut loose sometimes…)

It now appears, if I can trust The LATimes, that Season 6 will likely not be appearing on TVs near me or you anytime soon, due to that famous legal battle between the fabulous Weinstein Brothers (who own the series and want to move it to Lifetime) and Bravo (which is owned by NBC), which isn’t letting go of this cash cow without a fight. (Oh, and they want to move it from NYC to LA, which I think is a mistake, but perhaps I underestimate the Angeleno fashion scene.)

While taping of the series appears to be continuing and may have even concluded, we may just have to wait until the lawyers get paid before we get to see it:

In September, a New York state Supreme Court judge issued a preliminary injunction to keep Lifetime from airing or promoting “Runway.” Lifetime then filed its own complaint in October, trying to get the case moved to federal court. A federal judge rejected that move in December, sending the matter back to the state Supreme Court. No trial date had been set as of press time.

This standoff somehow reminds me of the great “New Coke” debacle back in the ’80s, when Coca-Cola, jumpy over the inroads Pepsi was making into its market, announced it would scrap its 100-year-old recipe in favor of a new taste. Oh, BIG mistake, the kind that gets turned into a business-school abstract on what-not-to-do. Sales plummeted, critics crowed, and Old-Coke fans rose up in indignation. (I remember because I was one of them.)

I recall attending a professional association event around that time where a Coke regional VP addressed the situation, and he summed it up thusly: Before the New Coke fiasco, Coca-Cola believed that it owned Coke. WRONG. Coke belongs to the people who love it and buy it. Coca-Cola just gets to collect all the money. If the formula works, people, don’t fu-ss with it.

Wake up, Weinsteins, or your golden goose may go the way of New Coke. Project Runway’s legion of fans could run out of patience, particularly if another show turns up that will slake their thirst. (I personally couldn’t get into Rachel Zoe or Stylista, but I’m certainly open to other possibilities.)

In the meantime, news of any Christian Siriano sightings would be FIERCE-ly welcomed.

Real fashion. Real people. Real lives.

January 28, 2009

Lately, at a certain point in the afternoon, when I’ve got the pigs slopped, the hay baled, the chickens plucked and the chores done, I take a few minutes and review the latest postings to wardrobe remix, a little Flickr site that I stumbled upon a few months ago.

WR is dedicated to all those of us who daily crawl out of bed, limp to our mirrors and scratch our heads in frustration. It is how real women of all ages and sizes use whatever is in their closets, cupboards and drawers to express themselves. (I think it was Isaac Mizrahi who said that fashion is, after all, a form of entertainment.) It has few rules — age 16+, total body shots, including shoes, the poster needs to say where the individual pieces come from, no collages or multiple shots — so the fashion combinations are at times crazy bizarre unique. And yet I’ve found this site to be more interesting and inspiring than any fashion magazine I’ve ever read.

It’s real people wearing real clothes, and many of their favorites are from thrift stores, discount outlets and relatives’ closets. Asian girls revel in their odd (to me, anyway) combinations of prints, Australian women incur deep seasonal jealousy by wearing sundresses and flip flops, European women demonstrate the best in Euro-style, collegiate fashionistas contort themselves in fashion-model stances — and they are surrounded by punk rockers, hippie chicks, thrift-store junkies and middle-aged fashion veterans.

There’s a teacher in Australia whose students must surely wait by the door everyday to see what wild and wonderful combination of colors, prints and jewelry she’ll be sporting. A punk chick seems to change her Day-Glo hair color weekly, with aplomb. A farm wife in Iowa wears thrift-store treasures that make her life look anything but ordinary. A woman in the Midwest with a terrific knack for layering has a link to her blog, where she meditates on fashion and its place in history, psychology and popular culture.

These are just women living their lives. Most are pretty, but not model-beautiful, and their wardrobes wouldn’t make it on the pages of InStyle or Vogue. Yet to me they are so compelling, so REAL.

Along with the fashion parade is a glimpse into the homes of these clothes horses. Hopefully I’m not being too voyeuristic, but I’m actually somehow comforted by the normalcy of most of their living arrangements, with their couches, floor coverings, knick-knacks, spouses/housemates and pets. The living quarters seen in the margins of their photos are sometimes cluttered with evidence of their lives, REAL lives. Their spaces don’t look like TV or magazine sets, but are areas where real people live real, interesting and sometimes messy existences.

Sometimes for the college-age women, it’s a single room or even a communal bathroom that forms the background, while other models stand on wooden floors in front of doors, interesting art or overflowing bookcases. (I’d love to be able to read some of the titles.) Some of them even have messy, overgrown yards — I can relate! One of my favorite backdrops belongs to an chick who poses in front of her flat, standing on a doormat that reads “Next Time Bring a Warrant.” (Needless to say, her sense of style has ATTITUDE.)

If you look at the site, you might initially think I’m nuts. (“She actually went out of the house looking like THAT?”) But scroll through a few photos and you’ll likely find someone whose personal flair and style sense make her look like someone you’d like to know. (“Her” is probably incorrect, as there are a few brave males who post as well.)

Maybe I watch too much TV and read too many magazines. Perhaps I’ve overdosed on air-brushed perfection. Apparently I have finally realized that, for example, Oprah’s guests (and the Queen of TV herself) have been primped and corseted and fussed over within an inch of their very lives before they set foot on her set, and that they bear little resemblance to whatever it is that crawls out of their individual beds in the morning. Whatever the cause, I find that I have a deep unrelenting hunger for whatever is really REAL, and wardrobe remix seems to help satisfy some of that craving.

Diet Wars: Oprah packs it back on — again

December 10, 2008

imagesAll I have to say about Oprah and her 40 refound pounds is that, if America’s sweetheart, with her millions and millions of dollars and her literal army of assistants — trainers, personal chefs, doctors, nutritionists, counselors, etc. — can’t keep the weight off, then the rest of us chubby plebeians out here should step back, take a deep breath, and just be a little kinder to ourselves. I don’t just think, I KNOW this kind of yo-yo weight loss has contributed to her — and my — weight issues over the years.

She maintains that her fall off the wagon is due to a out-of-balance thyroid, and, in deference to my thyroid-deficient friends — and I have many — I’ll refrain from speculating on that excuse. And don’t go ragging on me — I think Oprah’s okay, just maybe a little self-absorbed sometimes.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll be accepting seconds on pecan pie this season (even if its ByJane’s recipe) or that I’ll quit nagging myself to get off my lazy backside and go for a walk. I’m just not looking for any more reasons to despise myself. And neither should you.

A blessed, peaceful and gracious holiday to you all! (And apologies for my absence from the Blogosphere. Life happens…)

Lauren Hutton

October 23, 2008

This is my current source of inspiration, shamelessly stolen from The Sartorialist, a wonderful street fashion site:

Isn’t she fabulous? Completely unretouched, just as God — and a full life — made her. That I should age so honestly and so well.

Thrifting: A small act of charity for a bleak time

October 7, 2008

So you say you want to help those who have been hit hard by the economic downturn? Here’s a start: Clean out your closets. Really.

An article at cnn.com today says:

The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries International, the nation’s two largest charitable resale organizations, report year-to-date sales increases of 6 percent to 15 percent…

“We’re seeing a lot more middle-class and upper-class customers we haven’t seen before,” [said one store manager]. “Without even asking, you can just look in the parking lot (at their cars).”

The surge in thrift store sales has its downside, though. The Salvation Army reports a dangerous decline in donations. Just as consumers are now more likely to buy secondhand goods, they are also less likely to get rid of their used clothing or furniture.

A couple of women’s organizations in my area regularly conduct clothing drives for displaced homemakers who need suits, jackets and dresses for job interviews, but those are some of the very items that consumers are holding onto:

“We rely heavily on consumer culture,” said [Salvation Army] spokeswoman Melissa Temme. “People are finding that the couch can last a little longer. The suit, while it may not be perfect for this year’s fashion, is fine.”

So, my darlings out there in the Blogosphere, I challenge you to take a few minutes this week and divest yourself of some of those jackets and skirts and coats and shoes that — admit it — just aren’t going to work anymore. In my experience, articles of clothing that are a size 12 and above are particularly welcome.

It’s just a little something, a mere mitzvah, but I guarantee it will make you feel better.

Thrifting: My clothes take a Caribbean vacation

September 26, 2008

Who knew? Apparently trading in secondhand clothing is big business outside of the U.S.:

When thrifty shoppers in Boston and Miami pick through secondhand shirts at local Salvation Army outlets or estate sales, they are as likely to meet Haitians as hipsters. Some of the immigrants will simply be collecting clothes to mail back to family in Port-au-Prince, but others are part of a large global network trading in used American goods.

The demand for pepe — used materials of all kinds from overseas — is huge in places like Haiti, which has developed its own sort of raggedy capitalism:

Pepe is sold on virtually every street corner in Haiti, yet it isn’t a free-for-all. Some vendors purchase goods by the bales for resale. Usually they have an agreement with an American charity shop, which sorts the items before making the sale. (Coats, for example, go to countries with colder climates.) Other dealers rely on relatives and friends in the United States and run off-the-books enterprises. One person combs the thrift stores for certain items, and another returns to Haiti several times a year to make the exchange. Some sellers specialize in a certain kinds of goods—just soccer jerseys, just sneakers, just bikinis.

Although I knew that my local charity shop ships items overseas to other benevolent outlets, I had no idea that some of my old tee-shirts and skirts might be being restyled for a Caribbean market. It has occurred to me that, were I more clever with my sewing machine — which sits covered with clothes-to-be-mended somewhere in the laundry room — I might be able to give some of my cast-offs a second life.

Instead, like my mother-in-law, I stack the old Singer with tattered clothes until the pile gets so high — and then I bundle them off to Goodwill. The road to my closet is paved with good intentions.

If you’re interested, a pair of New York filmmakers has recently released a documentary, Secondhand (Pepe), describing the path your shoes take from your closet to the streets of Port-au-Prince.

Project Goodwill: Thrifting hits Washington runways

September 22, 2008

It just had to happen: As Congress and the White House grapple with solutions to the biggest financial meltdown since 1929, big-spending Washingtonians have discovered what we common folk in the hinterlands have known for years: There are bargains to be had at your nearby Goodwill. The Washington Post’s report — complete with a photo gallery — on a runway show at the French Embassy describes an event-for-our-times that, while it didn’t have Heidi Klum, was turning heads — and changing minds:

[W]ell-heeled Washingtonians were discovering that it’s still possible to look fabulous without a Wall Street severance package, a realization that’s sinking in across the country.

Goodwill has seen a 6 percent jump in sales nationwide as the economy has worsened in the past year. A recent survey of about 200 thrift stores found that more than half enjoyed sales jumps averaging 30 percent…

About 70 outfits, pulled from local Goodwill stores by Alexandria designer Tu-Anh Nguyen, were shown on the runway. Then they were returned to racks and wheeled out of the dressing rooms.

The tony crowd then descended on the racks in a scene that almost resembled bridal-gown markdown day at Filene’s Basement. Hey, ladies, settle down! There’s plenty of good stuff out there, as I have observed previously. It just requires patience and a discriminating eye.

And for some, maybe swallowing some pride. I suspect there’s going to be a lot of that in the coming days.

My Life in Shoes: Character shoes

September 18, 2008

Okay, a True Confessions Moment:

There was a time in my life when I longed for a life on the stage. I had been singing ever since an enterprising elementary school teacher figured out that this chubby little third-grader could sing harmony and stuck me in the middle of the choir, where I stayed for nearly 50 years. I came to dance much later, taking all sorts of dance courses in college and loving my hours in a ratty, drafty second-floor ballet studio, doing plies to “The Long and Winding Road” and other pop songs played by a wild-haired pianist. (Sigh…)

Although my size and vocal range generally limited me to community theatre character roles like Cousin Nettie in “Carousel,” Aunt Eller in “Oklahoma” and Katisha in “The Mikado,” I did manage once to starve myself down to a size nine, thus making me eligible for a role in the chorus of “Guys and Dolls.”

It was heaven. Fish-net stockings, false eyelashes, tap pants and “Merry Widow” bustiers! Hot-pink satin, fake fur and pearls for an honest-to-gosh striptease in the “Take Back Your Mink” production number! (I LIVED for the moment each night when we’d literally make the audience gasp!)

And character shoes, of course, those sturdy, short-heeled, Mary Jane-like black leather shoes that lend themselves to all sorts of stage roles. Take them to the shoe repair shop and they easily become tap shoes. I wore out two pair during my short-lived career as a chorine.

I wish I still had a pair. And someplace sassy to wear them. Anybody seen my false eyelashes?

My Life in Shoes: Cork sandals

September 12, 2008

Okay, enough serious posts for awhile. Time for some crap. After a summer-long search in department stores and shoe shops throughout the United States and the United Kingdom (and even on eBay), I finally found a pair of cork sandals to replace the shabby pair I “retired” in London. (Cute, eh? And only $20 or so on sale! Thank you, Bandolino and Macy’s!)

“Big deal,” you say? Not so, shoe lovers! For, despite the wanton whims of fashion over the years, cork sandals have been one of the constants of my shoe wardrobe.

I remember spotting my first pair when I was a high school senior. There they were, in a bedroom slippers display at the top of the rattly old wooden escalator at The Major Department Store That Is No More of my childhood. Like most shoes at the time, they probably didn’t come in any size larger than a nine, but since they were slides, they could kindly accommodate my size ten feet. And I didn’t care if they were bedroom slippers. I wore them everywhere until they literally crumbled under my feet.

I’ve more or less had a pair somewhere in my closet ever since. The beauty of cork sandals is that they are made of, well, CORK, which over time will mold itself to your feet until you have the feel of a custom-made pair of shoes. The sensuous joy of sliding your foot into a shoe that will fit only YOU is absolutely decadent. I’ve always wanted to have a pair of handmade boots, but my cork mules will likely be the closest I ever get.

There’s precious little summer left in which to wear them, but I’ll trot them out as often as I can. I even freshened up the old pedicure to show them off!

So, to celebrate me and my perfect sandals, please go put on your favorite, most comfortable pair of shoes. NOW.

UPDATE: Oh, shoe lovers should not miss Bill Cunningham’s NYT photo essay on shoes at Fashion Week. Now I know how those girls manage to endure those four-inch heels!