Archive for the 'fashion' Category


If Derek Zoolander managed the Runaways …

… it would look and sound something like the Plastiscines.




Couture clash: Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo?

Edward Klein’s Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? is a film I knew by reputation, but only just this weekend got around to watching. I loved it.

It’s had some high profile screenings this past summer, at Walker Art Center in my hometown of Minneapolis and at the Metropolitan Museum in my other hometown, in conjunction with the Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion exhibition.

This film has shoehorned its way into my all-time favorites list. From the opening scene, a fashion show where the models wear sheet-metal outfits, and the imperious editor (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Diana Vreeland) pronounces that the designer has “created the Eve for the nuclear age,” it’s a satirical tour de force, a commentary on fashion, celebrity and media that hasn’t lost any of its bite.

It’s funny, sexy, stylish as a film is possible to be, and shot in that gorgeous high-contrast black and white almost-verité style you see in Godard’s Masculin/Feminin and Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night, another film from an American expat. Oh, to have been one in those days!

The star, Brooklyn-born American fashion model Dorothy McGowan is pretty much just being herself and not really caring what anyone thinks of her.  She’s perfectly suited for her role, as were the Beatles, who had the same attitude. (See, especially, the classic “Dead Grotty/early clue to the new direction” scene where George stumbles into a youth marketing man’s office). Jean Rochefort plays the television producer who sets out to make fun of the superficial girl, but she is tougher and smarter than he thinks, and he ends up falling in love with her and pondering his own nothingness (I know! but it’s a sixties French movie, after all).  A good chunk of the film is occupied with a subplot involving a handsome prince who is smitten with Polly’s image, and the hapless spies he sends to track her down.

With her moon face, rabbit’s teeth (her own description), and  huge eyes (usually featuring some extreme deployment of mascara,  liner and false eyelashes), McGowan’s gorgeous, and impossible not to look at, even when she is out of makeup, in her tiny little apartment, more appropriate for a student than a cover girl.

Klein’s photography is spectacular: in the fashion scenes as you would expect, but also in many shots of the quotidian life of Parisians (he loves tight shots of crowds from belly-button level): queued  up for a cafeteria, getting into heated political arguments, stewing in traffic jams.  And there is this strange and wonderful animated sequence that brings to mind Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python animations.

Alas, McGowan apparently stopped modeling and acting after this film. “Every time they take my picture, there’s a little less of me left. So what will be left of me in the end? I’d like to know.”


Before and after

models before and after

Nothing new, but I’ve had that Ralph Lauren Photoshop debacle on my mind lately. This year-old slide show is from the New York magazine Web site, and features “before” shots of bare-faced models, and “after” shots of them made up for the Milan Gucci show. The transformations are pretty dramatic, but there are other striking things about this: mainly, that these girls look awfully gaunt in their au naturel state (though, it must be said, they are still, er, lookers). But they look particularly unwell to my eyes, like they’d been partying all night. And maybe they had.

I am something of an agnostic on the heated body image debate fashion models tend to ignite. Yes, many of them are WAY too thin,and present bad role models (though I’ve never really believed in that concept). But to me, the extreme body modification implicit in their business is not all that different from what’s expected of athletes, especially in dimension-focused sports like basketball and especially football. Not to mention that the opposite of obsessive thinness is a true epidemic of obesity that is ruining the health of, and killing, people in far greater numbers than anything eating disorders cause.

The commodification of people’s bodies is at the root of this, which is sort of self-evident and not really helpful. OK. At bottom I blame capitalism. There, I said it. Next subject.


Kinky boots/the worst canvas imaginable

I love this video, not for its critique of the over the knee boot trend in fashion capitals Paris and New York.  That I will leave to the crazy/brilliant/crazy Awl writer Mary HK Choi:

I can’t deal. It’s fall 2009 and what they’ve predicted has all come true. I’ve seen ’em. They’ve officially descended upon us like the vinyl-clad seat of a dominatrix who mistakenly thinks we want our faces suffocated. They’re everywhere. On the street. On public transportation. The sticky, deplorable, throbbing, bastard mass sprung from the loins of FASHION like so much Strangé perfume from Grace Jones’ womb: the over-the-knee-boot.

This is old news as far as EVERYBODY showing some version of this on their runways for fall but now we’re beginning to see them, not on the spindly femurs of stick people like Vogue Nippon’s Anna Dello Russo who’s so thin JAPANESE people want to give her a sandwich and then fly a plane sideways through the isosceles triangle of negative space between her thighs. I’m seeing this scourge on the worst canvas imaginable—regular folk. The Gucci, Louboutin, Choo, Chanel has trickled down to Charlotte Russe, Victoria’s Secret and Steve Madden and yo, this is BAD NEWS.

No, my interest is in the cackling, clearly extemporaneous voice over by legendary NY Times street cameraman Bill Cunningham. A New York Times personality who talks like a New Yorker. That is actually cool.

[Having a hard time getting an embedded video from the NYTimes site, so the link at the top of the post will have to do. At least I know it works.]


I just love the headline

oh, lindsay

oh, lindsay

Appearance of Dingbat Famous Person Horrifies the Eight People Who Care about Couture
Story’s pretty interesting too.

“PAS possible,” said Fabien Baron, the noted French art director shortly after the Emanuel Ungaro show on Sunday. “Call the fashion police!”


Twisted, funny, very funny


This is the second Letters to the editors of women’s magazines, with Edith Zimmerman. It’s in (on?) The It’s demented AND hilarious. I hope it becomes a regular thing.

Two samples:

Summer lovin’
Zooey Deschanel’s “31 Days of Summer” is posted on my wall so I can cross off her ideas as I try them. Dining alfresco, running under a sprinkler and air-drying my hair are as rewarding as I thought they’d be. I can’t wait to see what Deschanel is up to next!
Kathryn P., Getzville, NY (Self, October 2009)

Zooey Deschanel’s “31 Days of Summer” is posted on my wall so I can rub my hands against it as often as I want. I trimmed off most of the text so it’s pretty much just her face. I’ve also been licking the eyes, so those are almost entirely worn away as well. What a great article, thank you!
Allison Fruiterson, Las Vegas


Where Has Your Glamour Been?
On my honeymoon in Peru, I took my Glamour with me to Machu Picchu—a long train ride. Later I passed the magazine on to a Peruvian woman I met on the train who was learning English.
Christeen M., Denver (Glamour, October 2009)

On my honeymoon in Peru, I passed my copy of Glamour on to a Peruvian woman who was learning English—but just for a sec, and then I threw it out the window. “What? Oh, you wanted that?” I said. “Well boo hoo, you rotten old idiot, there’s such a thing as buying your own shit, you stupid moron.” That dumb foreign idiot!
Ginger F., via e-mail

Ineffable beauty, unspeakable evil, and all sorts of crap in between

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