Monday, February 22, 2010

Trendspotting: Boxy Frumpy Fur Coat

In some ways, I'm glad the strong shoulder is back. There is a certain 1940's vampy powerfulness to the strong shoulder. Alternately, there is a certain 80's boxy frump to it as well, particulalry because 80's shoulderpads don't have a very defined shape and look more linebackery than not. Anyway, I guess the time is now to wear an ugly 80's fur coat. Don't they all look like they're having fun?
PS: Topknot optional.
PPS: I'll let you in on a fresh little secret: Rolling up a pair of baggy pleated pants! It's a whole new look!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hel Looks: Jan and Vesa Wear Harem Pants for Their Own Reasons

Not to be xenophobic, but this, right here, is why Americans think they hate Europeans. Do these guys know they are a walking stereotype? Their names are Jan and Vesa. Jan says: "Martina Aitolehti and Heidi Montag inspire me now." As for Vesa, "Fashion doesn't inspire me at the moment. Sports and keeping fit do!" I guess Martina Aiteolehti is like a a Finnish Heidi Montag. It's curious they're proclaming that these women/subjects inspire them when clearly, what they're inspired by is this guy. What is with these fashion victims trying to take this anti-fashion tone? At least embrace it! You're just making it all the more pointless!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It Bags: A Little Fashion History

Believe it or not, designer fashion was not always focused on "it bags." Once upon a time, most designers rarely made purses. Houses like Gucci, Fendi, Hermes, or Louis Vuitton specialized in well-made leather goods and they were the ones who provided bags for the wealthy. Louis Vuitton has been around since the 1800's, and though their styles are seen as trendy, they have been making the same travelling trunks and purses forever. These items were status symbols, but they were a different, old-fashioned kind, based not just on logos but on quality and lasting forever. The stupid Hermes Kelly bag, which costs like $12,o00 is kind of based on this idea (that and the eternally appropriate WASP classiness of Grace Kelly.)

Above is a photo from The Sartoralist, of a woman carrying the Hermes Kelly bag even though it is a heavy tailored bag which doesn't match her summery outfit at all. (This is a fashion pet peeve of mine- people carrying heavy leather bags with sundresses, shorts, and sweatsuits as if they "go." They don't go! Try a straw bag or a canvas tote or something!)

It was the 90's where purses hit the scene. Prada (previously just an Italian leather goods company) released a bunch of boxy black microfiber purses with their little triangular logos on them that took the world inexplicably by storm. You may also remember Kate Spade's boxy microfiber purse, which, like the Prada, inspired zillions of fakes. I certainly remember it, because during those days, when visiting New York with my mother and aunt, what seemed like days would be spent wandering through the cramped stalls on Canal Street in 100 degree weather and intense humidity, dodging piles of festering garbage to get one's hands on an authentic KADE SPATE (discount for upside-down logo!)

Then Fendi released their fugly "baguettes", and the craze for "It bags" with tons of crap stuck to them really began! Soon, everyone had to have Chloe's "Paddington" (an especially disturbing version that looks like one of those giant Iraqi land spiders, shown above), burdened by a chunky padlock, that Balenciaga bag with the little thin strips of leather hanging down, and every other huge, bloated it bag with more crap hanging off it. Designer ads began to feature the model writhing orgasmically around a huge purse, head thrown back in ecstasy over an excess of buckles, chains, charms, and pony fur.

Today, it seems like everyone desires one of these bags. And designers desire to make them, because they carry huge pricetags, sell very well, and no one needs to worry about the typical troublesome aspects of size, tailoring, or fit. They just take a basic shape, add some fringe and some quilting and slap on a price tag. When reading even indie- type fashion blogs, I'm always surprised by how many young women think saving up for their first Miu Miu is truly worth it- especially when there are so many cute, good-quality vintage purses to be had for far less.

While it is worth cracking down on fakes because of terrible labor practices, it is of course also probably worth cracking down on 90% of what is sold at any mall today. People desire the fakes not because the purses hold things (and, based on these ads, erotically cover/mimic one's vagina) but because they have been elevated by the luxury market as the ultimate status symbol. Unlike the solid leather bags of yesteryear, it's hard to believe most of these bags, fake or otherwise, will be held onto very long, because they're all so trendy and stuck in whatever season they came from, and just remind one of the parade of fakes that came after- every single Louis Vuitton with flowers/cherries/etc come to mind. These styles have no integrity.

In conclusion, these it bags are stupid, and we should be insulted by the way they are advertised, the fact that they all weigh 20 pounds, that they are blatantly over-designed, and overall, overwhelmingly tacky. Let us not forget that men's pants are made with roomier, deeper pockets so they can carry things in them and require no external bag, and women's backs often hurt because of the size and shape of their purses. As with so many other aspects of fashion, artifice, and not genuine style or quality, plays the biggest role.

PS: When living in Philadelphia, I noticed many women, especially black women, using the term "pocketbook" instead of purse.

PPS: Coming soon- huge towering chunky platforms also with crap hanging off them- why are they still so popular?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Photos of Inspiration

MTV: What Happened?!

Apparently MTV has dropped the "music television" part of its logo, in an effort to rebrand itself yet again. Despite the success of Jersey Shore, they really seem to be staggering along blindly when it comes to connecting with the youth market, as previously written about in my Alexa Chung post. MTV and VH1 are mere shells of their former selves, desperately trying to stuff one more Tila Tequila Humps A Dog for Money reality TV show into their tired line-up.

It's sad because MTV, you used to be cool. Sort of! Showing music videos is cool (though the fact that they didn't want to show those of non-white artists in the 80's when they started, is, of course, not.) Beavis and Butthead, Daria, a focus on Prince when he was popular, and even the original Jackass made MTV worth watching. You may recall that even Daniel Johnston was discovered by MTV.

And the same for VH1! I spent much of high school watching their "Top 100 [whatever] Albums/Band/Etc" shows that relied too heavily on Dee Snider's opinion, but were still pretty interesting. And there was the truly brilliant Behind the Music, where I learned the Go-Gos used to be really punk rock and made a "sex tape" which featured them in long dresses, mumbling incoherently in a coke-addled haze and forcing their male roadies to do it with each other or something. I saw Patti Smith for the first time on one of those channels, performing "Horses" in the 70's, which of course blew my mind. And who can forget their first video ever, "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles? That song is 80's pop gold.

Obviously, MTV has always been corporate. It's always been suspicious when a huge company decides to market themselves to the youth in a hip and cool fashion, but for a time, it made sense. They managed to straddle the line between the two worlds, and while I'm sure they always put out plenty of crap, there was plenty of good stuff too. They had a perspective.

If I were the CEO of MTV, I wouldn't lose all this stuff. They can still have Jersey Shore and True Life (admittedly, a pretty great show) but I think the success of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" video showed that people are still into music videos as a format. And even though the overall music scene isn't what it once was, it's still worth tapping into the market and trying to find stars and all that exploitative shit that MTV was once all about. How about a music and culture show that isn't so forced and weird like It's On seemed to be? What about hipsters? How about some more direct exploitation of them? I've lived in cities with interesting local music scenes, but MTV is just too interested in Bret Michaels humping a dog to get into that. And once you show Bret Micheals weave one too many times, you start to lose your cache, you know? And become a grotesque version of what you once were? Who runs these channels? What are they doing?!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Question the System, Man!

(Assorted nonsensically fug looks from SP 10!!!)

I find "fashion week" SO boring. Every fashion week, I think about how I should really check out the fashions because I love fashions and all, and then I go to and I try to find a designer I sort of care about and then after clicking through twelve pages and then I get angry that these people are designers and why am I not famous and why are people applauding sheer tights paired with a crushed velvet crop top. Notable exceptions include Alexander McQueen (RIP) who I always answered as my "favorite designer" if forced to choose, as well as the occasional Dior/Viktor and Rolf/Gaultier runway. These designers seemed to appreciate the showmanship and performance elements associated with fashion, and created generally much more interesting clothes and runway shows as a result. (Maybe will find some photos if I'm not too lazy, which I probably am.)

Much of the clothing presented is not interesting enough to be art or sensible enough to be wearable, and then if you don't "get it" you just aren't "intellectual enough" to quoth Dan. I think many people feel validated when they "appreciate" designer clothing because it's such an exclusive world, and proclaim their worshipful love for it accordingly. But it seems like only .0001% of the population actually pays any attention to the quality of fabric and/or the quality of tailoring, and they are the only consistently "better" aspects of designer clothing in my opinion. There are so many outfits sent down the runway that just don't make any sense. The emperor's new clothes, people!!!

Also, I hate how everyone has to send their look down the stupid runway because everything has to be viewed monolithically and standing alone instead of in an actual context like clothing/art should be. It's like, if you are a designer, wouldn't your goal be to costume a play or a movie instead of making $12,000 dresses that hang in Neiman's that poor people can't touch? Why do they want to see their clothes on generic models on a gray runway? Why is that the ultimate validation?

Monday, February 8, 2010

eBay Mysteries

Why is this bulky, nerdy science teacher style sweatshirt going for $60? And are people photoshopping ebay models now? Because this looks hella messed up.

Perhaps more importantly, why is this going for $50??? It looks like a giant vagina, but not in a good way. God, everybody is just shortening stuff and selling it as a "mini" these days. I'm against it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lady Gaga: Y/N?

I'm always convinced award shows are going to be entertaining/worth critiquing, but it always turns out they never are either, because they are always typical and boring as hell. I turned off the Grammys during the supposedly 3-D (Whatever! The 3-D glasses I took from Avatar didn't work! I knew I should have returned them!) nonsensical Michael Jackson tribute. It's like, does anyone ever really want to see Jamie Foxx do anything? Why?

Anyway, I did see some of Lady Gaga's Elton John duet, which was totally boring just like Elton John himself, except for the always transcendent Tiny Dancer. I also saw Taylor Swift bringing down poor Stevie Nicks, whom she was not fit to share a stage with, and, if I never see Taylor Swift again, I would be pretty happy. When I watch things like this, I always think, "Why are these people, of all people, famous? What do The Black Eyed Peas have that other people don't? Why is Usher still here? Lady Antebellum? What? Do you guys even know what that name means?" The whole thing is such a mindless slog, and it's hard to tell who is excited about anything.

So, that's why at least a Beyonce, or a Lady Gaga makes sense. These people are showmen. They wear more exciting clothes, have more charisma than most, sing and perform (mostly) better, catchier songs (again, The Black Eyed Peas- what is going on with their "music?" Who buys their albums? I did like Fergie's 80's whore dress, though), and at least are an event unto themselves. It's interesting to me that Lady Gaga is famous because she would not have been in the pop princess-dominated early 2000s, but now the tide has turned and we are ready for every person to wear glitter shoulder pads once again. I'm glad that Lady Gaga has turned her mainstream success into a platform for performance art, and that she has chosen to get weirder instead of more normal as time goes on. I would much rather little girls like her and know of her existence than the existence of Taylor Swift. I am also glad she declined to be in the new re-recording of "We Are the World."

Of course, Lady Gaga is not really weird, and the weirdest thing is that she is always being treated as weird, particularly in this day and age. I saw this magazine page that listed Leigh Bowery as one of her influences, and it's like, you know who's weird? Leigh Bowery. And even before him, David Bowie was weird. Cher was weird. Prince was weird. Even Madonna was weird, kind of. And they didn't have stylists. What's weird is that everyone's like, "Oh, this futuristic glam thing is so weird! So new!" but doesn't everyone remember when futuristic glam was THE dominant aesthetic in music for a long time, and that once upon a time, having an extreme, poetic, artistic, bold, raunchy aesthetic was a huge part of music?

Look at these (totally mainstream) weirdos! Remember them? They grabbed their crotches and simulated masturbation and wore feathered headpieces to the Oscars with the best of them, and today we can't even handle Adam Lambert in a suit leading someone on a leash like nothing like it before has ever happened in the history of musical entertainment. One step forward, two steps back, dudes!

PS: Speaking of people who are still "hot" even though they were also "hot" when I was in middle school (ie, Usher, an eighth grade dance staple), Green Day really needs to give it a rest. Like, really.