Thursday, April 29, 2010

Movie Night

Stripes are having a moment. Though, in all honesty, it feels like stripes always have a moment when the weather warms. In that way they are like espadrilles. Identified as a trend when they are merely a seasonal style.

I've been having a stripes moment for at least the past five years. Horizontal and vertical. In sailor-like tops and sweater dresses. In fact, I often have to consciously instruct myself not to buy another striped item because I don't need anymore. I'm pretty sure this one-sided conversation has been witnessed many times by sales associates in various stores. At a minimum, it must be entertaining for them.

Though many of the striped pieces one sees during this time of year conjure images of sailboats and sweater sets, I originally drew my stripes inspiration from elsewhere. My freshman year of college I was taking French, trying to get my language requirement out of the way so I'd never have to care about the subjunctive ever again. I came to regret that bit of folly, but lamenting the loss of my French skills is neither here nor there. As is common in language classes of all levels, we were occasionally required to watch movies. But instead of the ridiculous videos that often accompanied my high school language textbooks or the silly teen movies, like La Boum, that we repeatedly begged our teacher to let us watch, our professors wanted to expose us to something more substantial.

One night near the middle of the spring semester, we all gathered in a classroom to watch Breathless on a much too small television. Disgruntled about spending our free time in class instead of studying, or finding any way possible to not study, we were not enamored with the film. In fact, during the end scene, we yelled at the main character, asking for it to end so we could return to more important tasks.

It was rather juvenile of us, and all I remember from a film that I should rewatch now that I'm older and less impatient was Jean Seberg. There she was all pixie haircut and slim pants and stripes.

She played with the line that separates the feminine from the masculine. The whole look had an ease to it that I still strive to accomplish. For brief moments, I sat up and paid attention.

During that year, and all of those that followed before graduation pushed me out into the real world, there were more revelations of this sort to come. This was one of the first.

Photos via, via

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Jacket

For the past month the weather has flirted with extreme warmth. Days worthy of shorts have popped up between weekends ruined by end times-like rain. But now we've settled into a more pleasant pattern. I am loathe to say this for fear of jinxing myself, but I believe we have seen the last of winter. So with that, the heavier coats of the previous season are slowly finding their way back into my closet.

Near the end of college, when I was taking my first steps in removing my closet of its frumpy elements, I bought a jacket. It is a military green with, if you really look for it, a hint of blue. There is a waist-defining belt. Epaulets with buttons sit on the shoulders. More pockets than I could ever use line the front. It combines a masculine inspiration with a feminine cut. And even five years later, I wear it constantly.

The Jacket's place among my favorites has more to do with its utility than anything else. There was no love at first sight, like there was with some of the others. Instead there was the way it went with everything from the many pairs of jeans that litter my closet to the numerous cocktail dresses that I've accumulated from years of school-related formals and semi-formals. It adds sharpness to my casual pieces and toughens the flirtier aspects of my wardrobe. I wore it a week ago with a white, pinstriped full skirt with box pleats. I wore it on Saturday with pegged jeans. I pair it with colorful scarves and my many headbands and sparkling bracelets.

On one of its recent outings, someone mentioned how much he liked it. How it reminded him of things he'd seen in magazines and in stores. I told him that it wasn't new. That it was almost five years old now. That I liked that it was back in style, but that that wasn't my reason for wearing it. That I didn't plan on buying a new one.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Leftovers: Paris Fashion Week FW10

Better safe than sorry.

This mantra is one that has ruled many facets of my life. Now as I watch my late 20s fast approach, I realize that it lacks merit. It’s a statement that I've used as a crutch to avoid the failure that comes from taking chances.

Paris, as is its way, forced me again and again out of the safe zone that I love so much. That place that is comfortable and warm and filled with navies and dark denim and at least seven black dresses. (I gave myself only 30 seconds to think of the dresses. The number would have been higher if the entire minute had been used.)

There were those designers, as there always are in Paris, who took chances one didn't see in other cities.

At Gareth Pugh

At Haider Ackermann

At Balenciaga

On the day Alexander McQueen died, I was on my way home from a long day at work. Disconnected from the world at large as I had gone without access to my phone and computer, I was unaware that anything had changed as I trudged home and pulled out my cell phone. It was then that a friend told me, assuming that I already knew. It's weird to think that your life can be affected by the end of someone's who you've never met, but as I sat down later that week and thought of which shows had caused me to fall deeper and deeper in love with this world, three of the ten were McQueen. Only he could make chessboards and holograms and alien/sea creature amalgams at once beautiful, haunting and awe-inspiring. The pieces shown in Paris only displayed the kind of innovation we will be missing in future years.

The trends that dominated the previous fashion weeks were, of course, all over Paris as well. The minimalism that originated at Céline last season found its way onto almost every runway and in every city for Fall/Winter 2010.

Stella McCartney showed clothes that spoke of the season while also being seasonless. Pieces that will never find themselves in the far recesses of your closet.

Alber Elbaz at Lanvin took his exquisite hand to this trend as well. Sharp tailoring in muted colors reigned.

With the occasional flourish.

But no one really did it as well as Phoebe Philo did and continues to do.

Then there was of course the military...

At Junya Watanabe

At Isabel Marant

At Sophia Kokosalaki

The 70s..

At Kenzo

At Yves Saint Laurent

At Chloé

and the fur.

At Nini Ricci

At Costume National

Chanel featured a parade of girls stomping around an iceberg in their shaggy fake fur boots. Once one got past the spectacle of it all, there were beauties to be seen.

And like London before it, you'll only be needing one piece in Paris next fall.

At Chloé

At Hermès

At Giambattista Valli

Photos via