I Would Buy Myself a Gray Guitar and Play

I didn't love it all, but Alexander Wang did grey great for his Spring 2010 show. Deconstruting the American Jock, all gym wear gone couture, Wang continued to show a panache for smart and cool. Here, I love the unexpectedness of the skirt. I think the top would look kick ass with some high-waisted, black, stovepipe pants and chunky, tan heels.

Sartorially, I have been gravitating frequently to gray these days.

This is arguably the penultimate look from the collection, with those killer shoulders and sleeves, the high point color contrast of neutrals, and a tongue-in-cheek slur against sportswear and high fashion. Socks like that make my knees look weird but I'll take the shoes please.

I’ve got this gray, Silence and Noise tank, the tank version of this leotard, that I have been rocking frequently. Out of embarrassment I wore my striped shirt today to get my coffee but then changed back into this comfy number once again home. I’m washing it tomorrow so it can come to the wedding in Philo with me this weekend.

The color palette here is mostly grays and greys and tan and khaki, laced with red and denim. The knits are sloppy chic and I drool. The black looks at the end of the show were no good to me.

I’ve got a treasured, heather gray maxi skirt that hangs off the A quite nicely. It’s a bit moody and a bit blue in some lights but I love it. I got it at a clothing exchange years ago. The silhouette is statuesque yet flowy, and it somehow makes me seem taller than I am. And, again, it’s GRAY so it too has been put into rotation quite frequently as of late.

But I keep thinking about this collection as I keep straying to the gray knits every morning. It's a bit odd, but I'd love it right now. It's so Bay Area weather-appropriate and cool.

Finally, I’ve got that rad fur vest that Erin gave me. This is maybe my favorite thing ever.

Calvin Klein is just one of my favorite brands ever. The tailoring and cool simplicity kicks it out of the ballpark again and again. And Francisco Costa can do no wrong in my eyes, so I of course love this line for Spring 2010.

I want to stress that this does not mean my mood is grey nor should this suggest to anyone Not in the Bay that we are currently plagued by gray weather, because my mood is pretty high and the weather is AMAZING, all blue skies and warm temps and “Man I love it here.” I think the lack of color here has more to do with a desire to pop.

To me it's simple yet interesting, somehow both tailored and voluminous. I love the smoky palette that turns pastel. I love that how ethereal and messy the fabric appears.

See springtime in Berkeley is an explosion of color, the brightest in the spectrum, everywhere, everything in bloom, flowering, bitchslapping my sinuses with their pollen-heavy splendor, Roy G. Biv dropping rhymes all over town, Nature just showing off–so wearing gray is almost the only way to be seen.

Look how the material just suddenly becomes diaphanous. Notice how the crinkles defy gravity. Check out the cool, Asian-inspired shoes.

Plus, gray has always been a favorite color.1 It’s soft or bad-moody, heathered and feathery, cloudy, stormy, smoky and sullen, ash and stone, concrete and cerebellum.

For Spring 2010, Gucci sent out all these amazing hardware splattered dresses and frocks, like this one here. The clothes were all athletic yet sci-fi fantasy.

It’s also a variant spelling word, which as a Grammar Dork and Crossword Doer and Logophile I think is really cool. G-R-E-Y, like the Metric System, appears to be the preferred everywhere but America. “GrAy” in America and “grEy” in England. Both me and Wikipedia have heard that gray can refer literally to the color and grey to the metaphorical mood or state of being. Or GreyvsGray.com says they can refer too to different shades of gray.2

A lot of the great outfits in this collection were white, but this grey monochrome is quite alluring, and I love the idea of a close-cropped, tight throughout suit.
  1. And August and Everything After has always been one of my favorite albums.
  2. Words are so badass.
This is another monochrome look from Frida Gianni that I'm quite taken with. I could done without the all-black looks in this collection, because, well, boring. But the tribal-esque ikat looks were good, and all blue, red, black, and gray. I'll take this coat right now though please. Thank you. Ok, I love you, bye-bye.

A Day at the Beach

Two of the best and most highly praised and talked about lines seem, to me, so perfectly matched to one another and fitting for a swanky, boho beach soirée. I’ve chosen a few key jewelry pieces by Bay Area designers to go with these looks. Like check out these out-in-nature appropriate, “weirdly beautiful” earrings. They’d be great with any of these looks and I’d kind of wear them with everything really. Beetles are awesome.

Mermaiden Creations green beetles earrings in resin

So people (and by “people” I mean fashion bloggers) are losing their shit over Miu Miu’s Spring line.

Those are birds in flight on top and prancing cats below, at Miu Miu Spring 2010.

The prints in this collection are just insanely amazing.

The gorgeous Lara Stone in cheeky Miu Miu

On a clean and complimentary color palette of black, navy, baby blue, and pale pink–with punches of lipstick red–Miuccia Prada has placed repeating prints of cats, dogs, birds, hippie-esque daisies, and reclining nudes.

Sequin and mesh detailing at Miu Miu Spring 2010

After the sleek and slim pantsuits, Prada’s put dresses and tops of “nude” mesh overlain with gorgeous sequin detailing. For many of these, those great prints are used on the arms, giving the whole look an odd but alluring and backwards feel. “Backwards” because normally we’re fine baring arms but like to keep our torsos covered, and here you see the opposite: arms are covered and prim and the length of the body will be sheerly- and sequin- covered.

Tina Tarnoff Louis XVI Chair Brooch

Some of the looks in this collection can come off overly odd, but I would recommend looking through the detail shots where the from-afar-awkwardness can be seen for all its quirky but perfectly executed WOW.

A closer look at those I-want prints at Miu Miu, Spring 2010

I’m not even sure who these clothes are for or where I would wear them, but the innocence punched through with nudge-nudge, wink-wink charm is ultimately alluring. I totally get why everyone’s falling over themselves to praise this collection.

Sweetness and spunk at Miu Miu, Spring 2010

And how cool would that Tina Tarnoff Louis XVI Chair Brooch look against any one of these looks?

China Beach with Seafoam, Heath Orchard photography

And for my little imaginary beach party, we’ve got Christopher Kane next. I’ve already thrown in one killer Kane mini in my Esme/Emily post, but how great are these grown-up ginghams for spring?

Beaded floral bust and leggy picnic skirt at Christopher Kane, Spring 2010

His side-slitting skirts are so yummy, and the cutout factor is high. I think I need to find a way to DIY this beckoning, burgeoning trend.

The perfect, sexy sweater and skirt at Christopher Kane

Kane is quickly becoming one of my absolute favorite designers.

Ploust storm urchin ring in atomized metal-infused resin on acrylic band

He’s creative and seems to be pushing himself. His designs, in my humble opinion, are clever, quirkly, and yet totally wearable. Seriously, I’d take any one of these dresses and any one of his designs from previous (and even unseen future) lines. Remember this screaming chimpanzee dress? Everyone went wild over that one too.

Christopher Kane Spring 2010

I’ve been friends with the immensely talented Heath Orchard for years. He’s a great guy and a wonderful photographer. I mean, how gorgeous is that shot of China Beach? He specializes in portrait, wedding, and food photography but look out for future, fashion-focused collaborations between Heath and yours truly. Also, check out his blog for an image of the week.

Based in Oakland, Mermaiden Creations is the ecclectic, creative brainchild of a self-described ADD crafter. Her etsy shop is an eclectica of handmade unusual jewelry, bewitching hats and wickedly whimsical wonders. On top of featuring wildly different and wild creations, her prices are fantastically affordable. Those beetle earrings? They’re only $10! I know, crazy.

Tina Tarnoff is a San Francisco-based artist. Her jewelry is created using prints of her papercut images, which are set under a clear cabochon dome. They include necklaces, chokers and brooches in various styles. The jewelry comes beautifully packaged and makes the perfect present. That Louis XVI chair brooch is only $35. Most of her designs are similarly charming and reasonably priced.

Ploust creates alluring jewelry based of the sea. I absolutely love her sea urchin rings and necklaces. She also has an etsy shop where you can purchase her pieces. Cast directly from sea urchin shells collected from Pacific Ocean tide pools, this collection captures sensual nature as wearable art. All five of her hand-mixed colors try to capture the moods of the ocean and its beaches. The ring above, atomized metal-infused resin on an acrylic band, is $35.

Friends, readers, contrymen: Support local artists!

All fashion images taken from style.com.

Spring 2010: Lava and Lightning

Frans Lanting, Lava river, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

“I Have Never Seen ‘Volcanoes'”
by Emily Dickinson

I have never seen “Volcanoes” —
But, when Travellers tell
How those old — phlegmatic mountains
Usually so still —

Bear within — appalling Ordnance,
Fire, and smoke, and gun,
Taking Villages for breakfast,
And appalling Men —

If the stillness is Volcanic
In the human face
When upon a pain Titanic
Features keep their place —

If at length the smouldering anguish
Will not overcome —
And the palpitating Vineyard
In the dust, be thrown?

If some loving Antiquary,
On Resumption Morn,
Will not cry with joy “Pompeii”!
To the Hills return!

Water and wine at Basso & Brooke, Spring 2010

Basso & Brooke: Okay, I’ll admit it: Technology can be pretty kick ass. Just look at the digital prints coming out right now (Mary Katrantzou, McQueen). Designers Bruno Basso and Christopher Brooke were apparently inspired by the art of Jeff Koons. Now, because I worked for two years at the Academy of Art University I do actually know who Koons is, but I wasn’t an art history major and I never would have caught that reference if Style.com hadn’t told me that that’s what these clothes were referencing.

More trippy, molten majesty from Basso & Brooke, Spring 2010 RTW

Instead, because I am a girly geek from Berkeley, my first reaction to this collection was: “These are the clothes that Lisa Frank would design if she dropped acid in the Fortress of Solitude.”

Electric and ecclectic at Basso and Brooke, Spring 2010

In other words? Awesome. I love this collection.

A cut above the rest, Cushnie et Ochs, Spring 2010

Cushnie et Ochs: Though for me this is a somewhat hit or miss collection, out of all of the many, many, many shows with cutout clothes (Gucci, Louise Gray, Christopher Kane and Versus, Wayne, Threeasfour, etcetera etcetera etcetera), I am of the opinion that this was one of the best. The cutouts were interesting, innovative, and when the models weren’t half naked, the clothes were slyly sexy in what was taken away, in which swath of skin was revealed. I mean, how rad is this maxi?

A hit below the belt from Cushnie et Ochs

Mary Katrantzou: Okay, so it doesn’t quite match the fierceness of that very-first, perfume bottle-inspired collection (because that was a freakin revelation) but Katrantzou is one to watch and she’s helping to spearhead this digital print trend. Plus her name is really fun to say.

You can't help but be wooed by Mary Katrantzou.

These silk dresses are feminine, funky, and full of life. The trompe l’oeil patterns manage to suggest movement while also, to me, making it seem as if you’ve hit the pause button on the trippiest scifi/time travel caper ever.

Mary Katrantzou, Spring 2010 RTW

These are the clothes for that superior and super hot alien race we keep hoping will decide to vacation here and take us out to dinner. And, apparently, hopefully, bring us rad party dresses.

Red hot Mary: Katrantzou's saucy lava wonders for Spring 2010 kick ass.

I’ll bet their space ship has a full bar and the drinks are delicious.

U. S. Geological Survey photo by Jim Griggs.

Spring 2010: Dusty Desert Dawn

Mojave Desert, photo by Kelly Daugherty

“As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert that seemed to point a finger at me and say, “Pass here and go on, you’re on the road to heaven.” — from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

Valentino Spring 2010 RTW

There is something about the desert that calls to people despite the dangers. What grows in the desert is beautiful in its ferocity. The expanse and swath and heat and span recall God and legend and vision quests.

A.F. Vandevorst Spring 2010 RTW

And there is a desert-like beauty springing up in fashion right now. You can see it in the sand-like colors and in the windy, whispy fabrics.

Bruno Pieters Spring 2010 RTW

As is evident to anyone paying attention the last few seasons, flesh tone clothes are IN in a big way. The naked dress. Sheer and airy and breathy and dust-colored. These are the shades of the desert at dawn and they are permeating the Spring lines.

Anne Valerie Hash Spring 2010 RTW

While there is something ultra-feminine and soft about these diaphanous looks, while the colors are purposefully faded and pale, there is a remarkable strength to these looks. The softness is striking, wouldn’t you agree?

Alberta Ferretti Spring 2010 RTW

Maybe it’s that is takes guts to pull of an outfit that so obviously subverts what it means to cover up, that plays with the whole idea of clothing as cover. I don’t know, but I like it. Like it enough to write a little poem-y thing about these colors of the desert.

A.F. Vandevorst Spring 2010 RTW

Dusty rose and blush and gold
Sand and ash and skin and bone

The super Karlie Kloss in Alberta Ferretti Spring 2010 RTW

Ecru and honey
Me, you, and loving

A.F. Vandevorst Spring 2010 RTW

Pale hues, parched desert nudes and
Moonlight-colored mornings

These neutrals are the best conduit through which to shoot the neons and brights into your wardrobe, as can be seen in Issey Miyake Spring 2010 RTW.

Romantic chills thru lace-like sky
Tawny hills and ruffled light

I love, love, love the make-up at Julian Louie.

Frilly clouds and sun-bleached earth
A mauve and whispered torrent

Alberta Ferretti Spring 2010 RTW

The beachy colors of a desert dawn
The khaki, the cream, the peach, the fawn

Mojave Desert, photo by Kelly Daugherty

A quick rant: Everyone else keeps throwing out the word “nude” as the descriptive term for these pale peach and taupe tones. I call BS. These are only “nude” if you’re white, and a pale white at that. And while these clothes make “naked dress” for us white girls, these colors actually IMHO look FANTASTIC on darker skin tones. For real, look how gorgeous Aminata Niaria is in this Hash dress. Sometimes it’s “sand” or “dune” maybe, or “peach” or “tan” or even boring ol’ “beige,” but “nude” is a misnomer and as a writer and logophile I cannot abide this. (Also dark skinned girls need only search for browns and earth tones to replicate the whole naked dress trend, with which, don’t get me wrong, I’m totally on board.) That is all.

Am I totally crazy to crave lace pants? Valentino Spring 2010 RTW

A.F. Vandevorst: One of my favorites of this season and a definite inspiration for this post. Truly a woman-warrior-wandering-the-desert collection. Gorgeous earth-tone colors in sheer fabrics. Strong and interesting lines. And breast plates? I mean come on. Consistently good, shocking layering. Not the first designer recently to throw out pantlessness and sheer pants but one of the best. This is really making me think about how I can make pantyhose wearable and sexy. There’s just something about this collection that I adore madly, truly, deeply. I keep going back to this one. Takes/demands a second and third look. This is a line that can teach you how to put clothes together, inspire.

Anne Valerie Hash: Here Hash is putting her fine tailoring into mostly unflattering fits. I hate that. Like all these skirts and pants she’s got? They hit at that perfect unflattering, stumpifying length. But! HIGH TOP CHUCK TAYLORS!!! Hell to the YES. And the colors are good, I’m liking these colors. Obviously. B-

Alberta Ferretti: Light, airy and gorgeous. Another one of my favorites. Feminine in all the right ways. In other words: alluring, soft and forceful, graceful, lovely. These are soft, classic clothes and like Vandevorst this is a look at how to dress as much as a presentation of “ohh pretty” and “I want to go to there.” I’ll take one of each please. Recalls for me too this collection, which is good as that was a memorable one.

Bruno Pieters: Clean but far from simple, these naked dresses take tailoring to the forefront. No one’ll even notice your nipples are showing. I didn’t pull them for this post but you’ll find lots of gorgeously accomplished, stark white and black in this collection too.

Julian Louie: While it’s slightly hit or miss for me, there’s a nice span but consistency of color choices in a mostly classic collection. The cuts and lines are interesting and wearable, and the geometric touches contrast nicely with the draping.

Valentino: A gorgeous collection of mostly party (read: shorter length) and frilly dresses. I think Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli are doing a great job running the historic house. This collection is covetable from start to finish… and not a red dress in sight. Instead we get lots of these desert tones and dove greys. And the shoes in this collection are out of this world amazing. I already threw them in the post I did in tribute to J.D. Salinger’s Esme, you can see them in the third look.

All fashion images from style.com.

Kelly Daugherty is an incredibly talented San Francisco photographer. You can find over 600 beautiful photographs on her website, many of them portraits, meaning landscape isn’t even her specialty, meaning these are even more impressive. You can also purchase prints from her etsy.com page here.

Mojave Desert, photo by Kelly Daugherty

A Word about the Seasons

The Fashion Industry is a strange beast. The old way of doing business is based on fashion’s relationship to another industry: namely, print media. Fashion shows occur six months in advance because (fashion) magazines have a three to six month lead time. Ostensibly, this six month jump also gives buyers a chance to make choices and place orders, but really it’s the magazine thing. Fashion magazines need about six months to go from planning to printing and fashion editorials are probably the biggest time sucks in this equation. Concepts are created, photographers chosen, models and crew picked, locations scouted, and so on. And it’s all based on the clothes. So it stands to reason that editors need to know the clothes before any of the rest can happen. And this makes sense. It’s always worked. Fashion editorials can be beautiful, can transcend even the designers’ own vision, can and do merge the ideas and output of the industry’s creative talents: designer, stylsit, hair and make-up, models, photographers, editors.1

Take, for example, this editorial with Kate Moss for W September 2009. It's shot beautifully by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott, but...
...this dress came down the runway and flew to the tips of everyone's tongue a whole six months earlier, on March 1, 2009. This line was discussed and dissected countless times before it could appear in W's pages.

The thing is, print media is faltering: settling, repositioning, and at least a little bit crumbling in response to the all-holy, game-changing Internet. Because instead of a system where only the fashion elite (editors, celebs, socialites, buyers, journalists) are granted this advance access to designer collections, now anyone with a reliable connection can check out each and every line shown every season. Bloggers have given their thumbs-up or thumbs-down well before the Sunday Style section is dropped. Forever 21 and the like put out their knock-offs a week after the runway show and months before the real McCoys show up at Macy’s.

Recently, the Council of American Fashion Designers hosted a panel to discuss/debate this problem.2 Donna Karan and Elie Saab took the side of revisionist/revolution/”really this isn’t working anymore.” However trivial you may find fashion, this conversation is a critical one: creatively and economically. The fashion industry supplies jobs and stimulates commerce. Or at least it should.

These Chloe triangle-heel wedges came down the runway on October 6, 2007 as part of the Spring 2008 collection. Which, right there, just sounds wrong, no?
By the time the shoes above were released, F21 had come out with these iterations for under $30.

And however fun it may be to buy a trend item for less than the cost of a meal out, companies like Forever 21 also sort of represent everything that is wrong with the world. And in the world. They support the idea that quantity trumps quality. The cost of those cheap knockoffs is paid for by sweat shops, child labor, unfair practices, environmental abuse and pollution. And while those who can afford designer at retail aren’t often opting for the polyurethane knockoff, and while most of us buy the knockoffs because there’s no way we’re spending our rent check on a pair of shoes, the system that allows the knockoffs to hit the shelves before the real things is a broken system.3

So I’m firmly on the side of fixing this clusterfuck. The economy needs better, our creative talents deserve better, and the consumer should ask for more. Fashion weeks in the Big Four (Fall 2010) are going on now and it’s too overwhelming to consider that these are clothes we’re not supposed to wear for 6 months. Hell, there are so many shows to sift through that it’s overwhelming no matter what. So for this blog, I will discuss lines within the current season (and as inspiration strikes). This means that I will be bringing up some of my favorite Spring 2010 looks over the coming days and weeks. This also means, for the time being, until the system changes, I’m giving myself six months to sift through the many, many, many collections that are paraded out every season. I also want to take away the reliance on the idea of seasons, which I think is also already happening, is happening in response to the oddness and incompatibility of the industry’s workings to how real people really dress. We should be able to wear what we want, as is dictated by mood and weather. And if we’re going to talk about “seasons,” Scott is right and stores should sell gloves and coats when the weather is cold and warm weather clothes when the weather is actually warm.

1. Right now, nobody does high concept, well-executed editorials like W and Paris Vogue, in my humble opinion.
2. This article lays out the issue well and is pleasantly snarky to boot.
3. So though I’ve got some F21 and H&M dresses in my closet — and while I will admit that all of my sunglasses and underwear come from these stores — I think that supporting these stores is overall a bad call. Fashion is as much about cycles and imitation than innovation. So if you see a look or style you want to emulate, make a copy, don’t buy a copy. DIY FTW.

1. Aztec Ascension

Click here for the complete collection on Style.com.

Just wait. It gets better.

Jean Paul Gaultier is already the mad scientist, the mixer, the magician.

While probably the simplest, most classic look in the collection, I just love this suit (and that hat!) too much not to post.
Gaultier's bustier gone buckaroo. Now we're getting somewhere...

I have been sitting on my notes for the couture line up for over a week now, attempting to formulate my ideas in some kind of publishable way.

You won't even believe how much further it goes from here. I love this.

This collection, though my favorite, is hardest for me to talk about.

Maybe because it's my favorite.

I imagine sacrificed virgins resurrected as ferocious and enchanted demigods.

Joan of Arc as a conquistador.

Pirates and pioneers and priestesses at play and at war.

Mythical warrior women, tribal goddesses.

See what I mean?

One if by land,

The references and touches here are all over the place and yet all point in the same direction.

Two if by sea.

This is so inventive and wild and wonderful. I’ve gone through these photos tens and tens of times.

With each viewing it gets better and better. You're picking up what I'm putting down, aren't you? This stuff is magical.

As with Thimister’s collection, war, imperialism, and cultural conflict are referenced, but here there is less of a political bend. It is impossible to tell in any look from which side the warrior comes, or which references within a single look hold the real power.

Pieces from everywhere. Amazing.

Each outfit is a character, captures a mood, but the stirrings are so fun-loving, and fierce, and frenzied, and fabulous that I think analyzing too much or over-politicizing is to miss the point for JPG. Thimister shot at something (pun intended) that not many designers have been willing to do, I do not think that Gaultier wishes to stir up such direct and dirty feelings. This is fantasy and myth more than war and history. Illusion more than allusion.

Because sometimes beauty is the point, is the unifying factor, is the reason for art as much as any message.

And this is often true of fashion at its best. Which couture shows should be.

All images taken from Style.com.

2. Bloody Good, Thimister

Click here for the complete collection on Style.com.

Yes, yes, YES!!!

Does it only glorify gore?
Or hit on devastating beauty?

This touches on so many things at once: imperialism, death, violence and villains. It is unafraid and in your face and I imagine jaws hung open as the models marched down the runway.

Does it make you feel guilty for coveting the clothes of conquerers?

The collection is cohesive, contained, controversial, and catechizing. The tailoring is crisp, clean, but shapely. These are obviously well-made clothes.

Just play Seven Nation Army over this whole thing.

Knowing the history and present of the apparel industry, these clothes not only evoke the bloody and violent imperialism of the past but they also are a bitten-off-tongue-in-cheek reference to current first world-third world dynamics.

Does it make you think about the part you play? Or do the red sequins destract you?

The collection is said to be inspired by a photograph of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, Emperor Nicholas II’s murdered 13-year-old son, who was routinely dressed in uniform as a boy.

It's at once upsetting and inspiring.

This color palette is amazing too. Red and olive together make one of my favorite all time ever color combinations.

"What happened then was the start of modernism: war, sorrow, destruction. We're still dealing with now."
"And the lack of creativity and spirituality." --Josephus Thimister.

This is Thimister’s first couture collection in ten years.

More pretty hints at violence.

It was self-financed.

Is she an angel or a WWI missile?

It is incredible.

All images taken from Style.com.