07 July 2010


A first on FPS: I'm about to rip on a show. I kind of have a golden rule about ripping on a designer's show (karma, respect, etc.) and try hard though I may to keep my (sometimes negative) thoughts to myself, I can't hold it in on this one any longer. I hated the Valentino show. Ok, maybe I am partial to the genius of the "ancient regime" (though I don't really consider it so ancient) but I have tried for several collections now to like what Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri put out and it's just not happening.

This collection is reported to be marketed to the Twilight set (really? Valentino? really? Twilight? Did the earth just spin off its axis?) and a spin on the dark side of first love. Well I can tell you my feelings are dark, I do not love it and I can be silent no more.

We'll hit a few I did like first (there were maybe six total):

I like the these first two looks because they incorporate classic Valentino elements with a fashion forward design. The third one is a romantic spin on being trapped, obviously a throwback to the dark side of first love. It looks ready for a museum show and that I like. Well, honestly, it looks like a dress form from the 1800's and that I can get behind.

Ok, so much I hate about this. 1) the fit. Maybe the models came back from a weekend bender and no longer fit the clothes. 2) the cut...ok, yes, classic couture lines, blah blah blah but I'm pretty sure I saw look 2 at my high school prom or, in the very least, at Talbots. 3) look 3 looks like the mini-dress-hooker-version of Nanny McPhee's ensemble before she turned into the beautiful Emma Thompson. But then they kind of all 3 look like sad dolls dressed by an evil, homicidal sociopath of a child in need of meds.

I think the first one was probably a lot more interesting on paper than it is in real life. It looks like she got attacked in the floral department at the grocery. Or had some kind of collision with the model in look 3 (maybe that is, in fact, the bird that once was flitting about in model 3's cage). The 2nd looks like coffee filters gone wrong, or, for a history of costume reference, ruff's gone wild. There just aren't enough words for look 3. There are a dozen other designers I could name that this would not surprise me to see come down their runway but Valentino is usually not known for the avant garde. So park it.

Ok...look 1 here looks like it came straight out of a design school workshop. Le snooze. But looks 2 and 3 are just killing me with their overeager youthfulness which really just looks like a cutesy version of a mourning frock and the cabaret version of a vicar's dress (picture if you will a vicar doing "Big Spender" during a G-d fearing Sunday sermon). What of these things don't go together? Ahem.

Does the dark side of first love also come with no concept of reason, proportion, style or sex appeal? Because I remember my first love and it was more like rainbows and puppy dogs, not some back room of an abbey role play. Actually, no, my first love revolved around depressing poetry and song lyrics (thank you, Robert Smith) but still...I never resembled a puritan, vicar, or recently exhumed historical figure.

Again with the vicar. I can't control it, it's just what it reminds me of..."careful there, Vicar..." Oy. The 2nd look is one part hefty, one part jiffy pop. Or maybe more than one party jiffy because is it just me or does that small yellow-ish detail look exactly like popcorn? And then that bodice, which was repetitive (redundant?) on this runway that was obviously made for the breasts of a pre-teen and fashioned out of bandage from a first aid kit. Did someone have an incident over a jiffy pop and movie night and find inspiration? Methinks so. The 3rd look almost had me, and would have sustained me, if it weren't for that unsightly pink bow that is terribly off center. She's more like the ghost of first love -- roaming the halls of some decaying mansion waiting for any man to enter so she can choke him to death with that little pink bow screaming the name "Valentino" all the while.

Too harsh?

Sigh. It's so very sad to feel this way about a line no longer designed by its inventor whom I completely adore. No one wants to dislike the next generation but I can't seem to help myself feel completely unsatisfied by the offerings of these two. I find that the accessories (the shoes, the gloves) tend to catch my favored attention more so than anything else they design -- mais oui! They were the accessories designers before be given this post after Monsieur Valentino's retirement! And it shows. And I sleep. And I wait for someone to take their place who will honor the name that is Valentino. Because this? This ain't doin' it.


05 July 2010

Earth Laughs in Flowers

To quote a bit of Emerson for your Monday evening pleasure. Though not to be overly sentimental, but I'm feeling more poetic about fashion today than usual following my first tour through The Frist Center for the Visual Art's Golden Age of Couture exhibit (accompanied by the more prominent stream of Emerson's words in my life following the arrival of my goddaughter Emerson). To top it all off, the couture shows have started in Paris and if I give myself reason enough (which honestly doesn't take much), I get all dreamy and moon-eyed at the very thought of couture.

Ok, let's be honest -- I almost cried, I think I squealed and I came very close to begging for more time at the exhibit on Saturday. For those of you who know the trail of fashion history, specifically couture, you know the very real role that the "New Look" played in setting off a spiral of creativity, evolution and overall economic impact of the fashion industry on the rest of the world. It is simply legendary. And to this we all owe Christian Dior a massive debt of gratitude. He will always be my favorite designer, favorite house, favorite everything. To stand in front of the Bar suit, nothing separating me from it but museum grade plexiglass, will turn into one of those redefining moments in my life. It's no different than the first time I stood in front of a Pollock at the Phillip's Collection or when I finally got to see The Arnolfini Marriage by van Eyck at the National Gallery in London or even walking through the sculpture garden at the Louvre or the endless hours I stood in the Pre-Raphaelite wing of The Tate. It was breathtaking, moving and invigorating. I stood still, trying to memorize every seam line -- finally giving up because somewhere you know such perfection can never be reinterpreted let alone replicated. Dior, you are my hero.

And so the reigning King Supreme of Couture, John Galliano, showed his Dior Fall Couture Collection in Paris today and it was if the whole world had suddenly come alive with Dior on its breath like the wind in the night. Obviously inspired by flowers, Galliano as usual took his vision to a completely untouchable and ethereal level. Theatrics not withstanding, the skill it takes to bring a simple flower to life, the eye for detail (right down to the florist-wrap headpieces) is not at all unlike art. For anyone who has ever thought there is no art in fashion, I dare them to argue that when it comes to the House of Dior...now or then.

Time to stop and smell the flowers.


photos style.com