19 April 2011

The Throne of Dior

Surely taking on the House of Dior is kind of like winning the fashion lottery, making it to the gates of heaven, getting bumped to first class from here until eternity, or...well...getting to head the House of Dior. So the question of the moment: who will take over Dior?

According to Women's Wear Daily, the short list of potential Dior designers has arrived and that list includes:

Prabal Gurung (left); Haider Ackermann (right);

Riccardo Tisci (from Givenchy -- left); Alber Elbaz (from Lanvin -- right);

Nicolas Ghesquiere (from Balenciaga -- left);
Hedi Slimane (formerly of Dior Homme -- right)

Olivier Theyskens (currently at Theory; I had to include this full shot
because it is so very gorgeous)

Tom Ford (left, with Julianne Moore); Sarah Burton (from McQueen -- right)

If we take into account the last collection for Dior, RTW Fall 2011 (please click images for larger views -- lovingly borrowed from style.com -- they are truly exquisite designs):

This had to be one of the best collections I've seen from Galliano in awhile -- from anyone, for that matter. It is the heart of his skill -- romantic, edgy, ethereal, historic, powerful, colorful, diaphanous -- he was quite gifted in capturing the essence of a woman in all its many facets. I was gasping going through the footage of this show, which he was unable to attend given the drunken anti-semitic tirade he engaged in days prior. I felt for him before I saw the show, but seeing it after -- well, G-d has his timing I suppose but what a sad lot for him to be so far removed from such beauty created by his own imperfect imagination. It's like painting the greatest painting of all time but never being allowed to see it hung at the Louvre, to hear the passing gasps of admirers and the melodic clicking of flashbulbs amidst a sea of enthralled journalists. Painful.

But I digress. Back to task -- taking the House as it stands at this moment, for the clients it attracts, the very loyal and bourgeois patrons of all things Dior, who could possibly fill the shoes of the great designers before him/her? Who could possibly take the gold-encrusted sceptre of Dior to a new non-tarnished place in the history of fashion?

Well, I've thought it over quite a bit. Honestly, it could be any of them. But I'm going to take a few out of the running (the one in my head at any rate). Prabal Gurung, while truly gifted, I think is too young and has just really developed his place -- I think he should enjoy that for awhile. Riccardo Tisci is a favorite of Bernaud Arnault's (chairman of LVMH who owns Dior) daughter who currently acts as deputy managing director of Dior, so he has some weight there but I think the decision is more complex than that factor. Nicolas Ghesquiere -- well, I'm not sure that the marriage of his aesthetic to that of the Dior aesthetic (historically speaking) is a match. I truly don't believe Sarah Burton will leave Alexander McQueen so shortly after his death and since being at the label since its inception. I would say the same for Alber Elbaz leaving Lanvin -- I just don't see him making that exit. He is Lanvin (and I really, truly do not want him to go!). Finally, I just don't know that Tom Ford isn't too racey for the Dior client. Plus, selfishly, I really want Tom Ford to continue making films and I'm not sure that this wouldn't shelf that at least temporarily.

So, that leaves: Theyskens, Slimane & Ackermann, a trio I never thought I would be entertaining as the heir to the Dior throne. Not to negate their ability by any means, they are all three very gifted artists. But when I think Dior, I think someone with an equally massive persona and ego as Galliano.

I say Slimane because he's been at Dior before and they tried (without success) to sway him to staying some years ago and selling his extremely crafty soul to the LVMH hierarchy. He politely told them no. He's a brilliant photographer, a forward-thinking designer and has a strong following in many different reaches of those pockets which can actually afford Dior.

I say Theyskens because -- well, wow. Olivier Theyskens has got to be one of the most talented and multi-faceted designers out there. I think maybe he is the reincarnate of Balenciaga (look them both in the eye). His is an old soul but he's young and has a lot of fresh ideas. I don't think he'd be a designer that would ever bore. He'd woe those young Dior girls who want something very 'now' but would placate and seduce the older set who long for the romance of their youth.

However, now that I've had a few days to let this gestate, I'm really having some strong feelings about Haider Ackermann. He nails that romantic/edgy symbiosis pretty damn well. In addition to being a contender for the seat of Dior, Karl Lagerfeld himself has suggested Ackermann as a replacement for him (some day) at Chanel. A compliment indeed -- and let's face it, Karl doesn't roll out compliments all that often.

More from Ackermann's RTW Fall 2011 Collection:

If you focus on the details of Ackermann's skill (and styling), and compare them to those of Galliano's (albeit, Dior's), I think you'll see that there is a passion to intricacy there that is parallel and transferable to the label's goal and mission.

Or maybe I've just suddenly fallen in love with Haider Ackermann (anyone who uses Leonard Cohen's "A Thousand Kisses Deep" for their runway show will surely catch my attention).

Whatever the case may be, it would be really great to see someone unexpected propelled into sudden and certain greatness. Who knows, tomorrow I may change my mind and lean more towards Burton (who is said to be in the very top of the contender's and may even be the top pending Kate Middleton's decision on whether Burton will design her gown or not) but today my money is Ackermann.

Long live the dark horses.


10 April 2011

Nashville Fashion Week: Day Four

Sadly, I only made it to one event on the next to last day of Nashville Fashion Week. As I drove around in circles for nearly 30 minutes trying desperately to get a parking space so that I could make it to see Kelly Cutrone speak at the Belcourt Theatre, I wondered if maybe I should give up.

Luckily, I have a ridiculous amount of patience and special ops parking skills and, at the last minute, I squeezed the stealth Jeep into a parking space made for a Vespa. It was legal, that is all that matters; and although I wound up at the end of a very long line of ladies dressed in black, I made it on time.

I've long admired Kelly Cutrone's tenacity (she is, essentially, the proverbial badass of the PR world...who are we kidding, of the whole world) and while I had watched her show Kell on Earth religiously, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. Yes, I knew she was smart; yes, I knew she was funny; yes, I knew that she does not tend to take crap from anyone (living or otherwise), but I was unprepared for just how much this speech?...lecture??...hell, soliloquy...would inspire me, move me, possess me. She's kind of Queen, people. All hail.

Among the many things Kelly spoke of (her family, her start in the business, how to get into fashion, how to rock your brand and work the PR star fantastic) the things that resonated with me the most were what she told us about tribes and how she illustrated her version of "never giving up."

She's a fighter, that's for sure, but then something about her makes you believe her stars were laid out so long ago, that no matter what got thrown in her way over the years, she was destined to be who she is right now, in this moment. That, in and of itself, is inspiring. Although she went to school to be a nurse and later went on to go up and down the ladder of success (eventually just staying "on up there" hovering above everyone else), she always figured out who she was, what she had to say, how to get it out there and how to just stand solid as a rock on her own feet in each and every instance.

Yes, I'm a hard core feminist though probably not in the sense that most people think when they hear those terms (read: I love makeup, French lingerie, killer heels, and other various and sundry items I probably don't really need) so any time I see a woman coming at success from the angle that Kelly does -- straight forward, no pretension -- while at the same time incorporating her wish for tribal living, unconditional love, forgiveness and basically being the "mama wolf", I have to say I am kind of speechless. Or rather, I'm in awe.

I don't believe in accidents or coincidences. I never have. I believe I was meant to hear these things on this day at this particular time in my life -- a time where I finally find myself in a place to explore my creativity beyond where I could before. You see, since I saw Kelly, I've been on kind of a buzz. Everything she said was so right -- ok, now you may be thinking next I'm going to offer you the kool-aid but it's not like that.

I implore anyone reading this blog right now to pick up Kelly's book, If You Have to Cry Go Outside. I picked it up before going in to see Kelly and finished reading it three days later (probably would have finished it in a day but I have a 7 year old -- reading isn't what is used to be). I've read a lot of books -- a lot of lit, a lot of fashion, a ton of self-helpy spirituality types -- this one is definitely going in my "favorite" pile. And not just because I love fashion; but also because I love to work, and I want to cultivate the voice inside of me to get to where I ultimately want to be with my career, my life, my place in the universe.

I'm more than likely not doing this whole thing justice. For instance, I didn't even begin to tell you Kelly's take on tribal living, the Mother, the earth, taking care of each other -- moving toward someone who is in need of help instead of moving away from them (sometimes people are too scared to ask for help or maybe unaware that they need it, right?).

I particularly loved the idea of tribal living. In this house, we call ourselves a tribe; always have. So I get that -- but I never thought about it in terms of the support you need outside the walls of what is your immediate familial context to get to where you want to go. I'm probably the worst for asking for help and support and maybe if I had years ago, I'd be turning out a collection every season instead of perusing longingly for hours over the shows after they come out on Style or NY Magazine's respective websites.

Maybe I should have given more support to people around me who also have unanswered creative voices living within. I'm going to make that a goal from now on. It's so important -- there is so much to be had. So much talent out there, so much vision. We really are incredible animals, aren't we?

Ok, so I'll stop waxing poetic because right now a member of my tribe needs to have the Wii remote taken out of his hands and his mama needs to read him a book. Hopefully, all of this creative juju that's floating around the house right now will lead us to very wonderful places -- together.

I'm so glad I moved to Nashville. Thanks, Kelly. And thank you to the folks at Nashville Fashion Week for bringing Kelly to us. There's a lot of love for her in this city now.

xoxo, kvlm

p.s. Kelly also has a new book out, Normal Gets You Nowhere (ain't that the damn truth). You can pre-order a copy now; it hits the shelves May 3.

01 April 2011

Nashville Fashion Week: Night Three

Nashville Fashion Week's third night was alive with the energy I find so intriguing about this town. Although I'd had a really inspiring experience the night prior, this night proved to be more on point with everything it was trying to accomplish. Major kudos to everyone involved from the adorable male fashionista who helped us find our seats to the black-haired raven in the top balcony cuing each model when it was her turn to take the catwalk.

Over 800 people showed up on what turned into another cold night, this time in East Nashville at an old church parked right beside an even older YMCA. The building was lit in neon green which helped to subdue the question on everyone's mind, "how are they going to do this in this church?" You see, from the outside this place of worship we'd all flocked to to do just that, worship at the throne of the almighty thread, seemed a lot smaller than it actually was.

Once inside...well let's just 800+ people fit rather nicely in the churches velvet cushioned pews. It seemed as if everyone had a great seat, a great view, and a great attitude towards the whole event. It was a happy vibe indeed.

We had bought tickets to avoid the possibility of not getting into what we figured was going to be a full house given the celebrity presence of Christian Siriano, who is not only a brilliant designer but also the lovable and energetic winner from Project Runway Season Four. Turns out, for this night, it actually paid to be press so we switched back over to "the other side." And the crew could not have been nicer -- even to us bloggers who, for the most part, the news world still doesn't take too seriously. Although we weren't allowed entry until well after the non-media masses were warm inside, we were granted fabulous seats (again) -- front pew, steps away from all of the action. The fashion gods are being kind to me this week.

The show opened with Olia Zavozina, a Nashville transplant who creates one-of-a-kind bridal wear and some rather fetching menswear (this says a lot for me -- if you'll remember from my last post, menswear sends me very quickly into a coma). I had actually met Olia a few months after moving to Nashville at a trunk show and been very impressed with her work. I loved her color palette then -- all dove grey, white, and bone -- and I loved it for this show. She's also quite lovely herself, a gorgeous Russian blond with a lot of skill -- who can resist that? Here are some shots of her line:

Next in line was Cooper by Courtney Warren. Warren, a Texas native, has a goal: to create a dress line that makes all women feel sexy and beautiful. (She must be nailing the sexy part; as I write, sitting in the children's section of the library, writing as my son plays educational games on the library computer, the powers that be are blocking me from viewing her site due to "adult content").

Anyway, I found it endearing that Courtney named all of her pieces after family and friends who have supported her through her fashion venture. Having always wanted to design myself, I can't tell you how instrumental the support of those around you is being that fashion is the greatest financial/business risk you can take these days.

As for the line itself, I thought a lot of the pieces were very cute, completely wearable and super girly. I did have one question though: who were her dressers? Sadly, a number of frocks came down the runway with undergarments in full view and dress-hangers, well, hanging out. It was a bit distracting. But the girls, below, literally walked it off and the error was soon forgotten.

The next designer, a local, really REALLY made me want to break out the checkbook. Just about ever piece by White Rabbit designer Shea Steele had my heart and mind racing. The line is a veritable triumph of uber-romantic shapes in completely unexpected color combinations. I loved the clothes, loved the styling, loved it all. It really was an unforgettable part of the entire show.

Sadly, since I was not in the most opportune place for optimum photo taking, I don't have much to show. I did find this teaser online but I highly recommend you click through to her viewbook; her pieces are quite seductive.

Union of Angels by Cynthia Bapst showed next and while I didn't know much about the line at the time, you could tell it had been around while given the impeccable tailoring of each piece. Her bio says that she drew from her Virginia background equestrian details mixed with a hip boho chic spin. Well, you certainly can see the equestrian -- which no doubt will translate well to the Nashville celebrity set, a group she has been working with on styling through the various record labels that line Music Row.

I was a little confused by the different genres represented in this collection though; the last look smacked of 1950's Marilyn Monroe-esque inspiration with a Jackie O. modesty. Coupled with the heavily embellished jackets and riding boots, I wasn't sure which direction my mind was meant to go in.

Last, but certainly and by far, not least was fashion darling Christian Siriano. Dress after dress, model after model, there wasn't one thing I did not love. And seeing it in person after "covering it from afar" after the collection paraded down the runway at New York Fashion Week was an incredible experience I can only liken to seeing famous paintings for the first time after only having ever seen them in books. Thank you, Mr. Siriano, for coming down to our "neck of the woods" and igniting a fire in a room full of people who are absolutely sold on the church of your clothing.

What beauty, what skill. When I think about what will happen to the House of Dior and how replacing a genius like he-who-shall-not-now-be-named, I immediately think of Siriano. His skill is reminiscent of earlier Galliano -- pieces that now reside behind museum-grade plexiglass while fashion students near and far line up to drool longingly. He's young, yes, but he definitely was given a gift and I am truly excited to see where he will be 20 years from now. His career will no doubt be long and fruitful not to mention set in the history books of fashion.

My favorites....they simply make me swoon; the impact of these pieces in person, breathtaking:

While my real job kept me from attending the last two days of Nashville Fashion Week, I will still cover those designers shortly. I'm thrilled to have been a part, although in such a small way, of such a big week for our city. And anything I can do to help promote/support local talent, I'll certainly do -- now and for as long as you will entertain me.

I was able to see Kelly Cutrone at the Belcourt Theatre, who not only was promoting her books but was also promoting this event, but I'll catch you up on that later probably in an "Ode to Kelly" blog. She, too, is divine and I am quite certain I adore her.

'til then,