Friday, May 26, 2017

The Planner and The Scammer

I saw the picture almost immediately after it happened. I'd spent the previous decade getting my hands on pictures from every runway show and look book that I could. I clicked through images of accessory close-ups, atmosphere, and attendees until my wrist ached. But by 2014, I'd started to take less note of who was sitting front row. Fashion week was changing and the importance of that publicity venue was waning.

But there were still some shows where an invite mattered, where a front row seat meant something. Chanel and Dior and Louis Vuitton's elaborate runway productions are always chockablock full of their ambassadors, the women who help sell their shoes and leather goods and perfumes to the masses. Because these contracts last for years and are generally renewed repeatedly, the same faces are seen again and again. Creative directors step down or burn out, years pass, but still Charlize Theron is in Dior and Jennifer Connolly wears Louis Vuitton.

Miu Miu is one of the last shows to walk during Paris Fashion Week and always has a front row full of buzz. While many of the women given access to those seats end up in a Miu Miu campaign, the brand prefers to cycle through young actresses and models from season to season instead of committing to a few for long stretches. More importantly, the Miu Miu front row crowns those who are newly it, the term that entered our cultural lexicon with the Clara Bow silent movie of the same name and whose slippery concept rising stars, especially female ones, continue to chase to this day.

I think it's safe to assume that Rihanna was there simply because she liked the idea of it. The fashion side of the celebrity game has never seemed like a chore for her. In fact, she has always seemed to find real joy it it, and she was at a point in her career where she could do as she liked.


On the other hand, Lupita, fresh off her Oscar win for 12 Years a Slave, was a new name and a new face. She bookended her many red carpet appearances of the preceding fall and winter with Prada, the sister brand of Miu Miu, first at the movie's Toronto Film Festival premiere and finally on her triumphant night only days before the show.



I wasn't surprised to see her seated there taking a picture with the stars of 2013's Palme d'Or winner.


And I wasn’t surprised when she was selected as one of the faces of the Spring/Summer 2014 Miu Miu campaign.


But I was surprised to see the picture of these two seatmates return to my life a couple of months ago. The image had originally taken over Tumblr, but I am just old enough to not understand how Tumblr works or what happens there. It wasn't until it resurfaced on Twitter that I became aware of its second life as a meme. Hadn't this picture been around for years? I reminded myself that not everyone spends hours following the goings on of various fashion weeks. The excitement spread to the two women at the center of it all, and I let myself get a little giddy about it as other creatives jumped in to say they found it intriguing as well.

What is a scamming movie if not a cousin to a heist movie? And didn't I love heist movies?

I knew there were probably going to be issues around attribution and Hollywood is still itself, so when the fervor died down, I let the image drift to the back of my mind again. Then the news broke. It was happening. Something that would make many of us happy had been willed into existence. This year has been kind to very few of us, but here was something to celebrate. Instantly my mind ran off in search of an answer to a pressing question. What would these characters wear? It would be so easy to put them in seasons and seasons of Prada and Miu Miu's quirky chic. But a scammer must wear many masks and many masks calls for many brands.

I'm sitting on five seasons worth of bookmarks going all of the way back to Resort 2017. If I get out of my own way, I could still write something about many of those seasons. But Resort 2017 is over now, and this is my chance to finally give it the due it deserved.

I started with what they would wear when alone and hanging out together, possibly while constructing a new plan in the modern kitchen of a beautiful loft that some gullible man pays the rent for. Or maybe when they're tucked into a quiet corner of the neighborhood coffee shop where they've become close to a barista who supplies them with complimentary espresso. The clothes that you truly live in. Those worn when all of those performative parts of your personality are turned off. The ones that you wear with someone you trust.

For Both

At Sonia by Sonia Rykiel



At A.L.C.


For The Planner

At Sonia by Sonia Rykiel


At Sportmax


At Timo Weiland


At Alice + Olivia


At Mara Hoffman


For The Scammer

At Rachel Zoe


At Tomas Maier


At Haney


At Rodebjer


At Victor Alfaro


Then I chose one Resort 2017 collection as the core inspiration for each of their on wardrobes.

For The Planner, it was Holly Fulton's playful patterns.




For The Scammer, it was the luxe architectural feel of Maticevski.





From those points of reference, I went about the fun but somewhat overwhelming task of further flushing out their on closets.

The Planner with her offbeat prints and full skirts and Peter Pan collars.

At Sonia by Sonia Rykiel


At Tracy Reese


At Versace


At Delpozo


At Fausto Puglisi


At Alexander McQueen


At Victoria Victoria Beckham


At Nina Ricci


At Delpozo


At Fendi


The Scammer with her glamorous outerwear, architectural notes, and structured sex appeal.

At Boss


At Sally LaPointe


At Akris


At Emilio Pucci


At Bottega Veneta


At Courrèges


At Missoni


At Rochas


At Osman


At Monse


At Mugler


At Dion Lee



But this is only scratching the surface.


Images via, via

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Jumping In

Most of the years that I spent living at home in Boston bleed together. Did a certain event take place in 2010? Or 2012? Or 2013? Was I in a skinny phase brought on by distress or a larger one brought on by the depths of boredom? But inside that muddled timeline, there are those moments that stand out. In the spring of 2013, my mother came home with a clothing purchase. This in and of itself would not have been worth noting normally. At times she feigns ignorance about where my love of fashion comes from but I've never forgotten. It has always been her, the root and the source. What was noteworthy this time was the item purchased.

"Is that a jumpsuit?" Disgust laced my voice.
She hung it in a hall closet before turning to me.
"Yes," she replied.
"Are you actually going to wear it?"
"Of course. I used to wear them in the 70s."

I didn't question the latter but I had my doubts about the former. Although my love of clothes and shopping originates with her, the ways in which we pursue our conquests diverged long ago. My mother doesn’t try things on in stores. Instead she brings them home for the necessary testing before returning them if they aren’t quite right. There was a chance that in a few days the jumpsuit would return from whence it came. Or, less likely but still possible, that it would be consumed into the back of the closet, never to be heard from again. 

Sometimes I take to a class of clothing immediately. The moment skinny jeans became The Thing, I knew that I had to have a pair. With others, it takes time for me to come around. For years suits on women made me recoil. The options were limited. The manners in which I saw them worn were either uninteresting or unflattering. Now I cheer for them, the sharp and woolen as well as the luxe and velvet. I write long posts full of my favorites. I do celebratory dances in my bedroom when a woman walks the red carpet in one.

And yet, I haven’t bitten the suiting bullet myself. The last suit I bought was a gray, pinstriped Michael by Michael Kors number from the old Filene’s Basement that served me well during that first blush of post-collegiate life. It was an interview workhorse. A well-fitting workhorse, not like the shapeless rectangles that made me turn my nose up at suits for so long, but a workhorse all the same. On its last outing, I stood looking out at Boston Harbor from the well-appointed waiting room of an upscale insurance company that a staffing agency had sent me off to see and considered the possibility of a suit-wearing life. That was three moves and more than a decade ago.

My initial disgust at the jumpsuit’s rise was mostly logistical. I had worn many impractical clothes in my nearly 30 years but I hadn't had to strip to use the bathroom since the bodysuits and overalls of my 90s childhood. And my body had changed a lot since the age of 10. Puberty had left me busty but still somewhat slight of hip. Finding a single, pants-dominant piece that would fit both halves of me seemed impossible.

My mother kept the jumpsuit and even wore it a few times before I moved across the country the following spring. With the move, I suddenly had time that was my own and some disposable income. It was then that I began my quest for a jumpsuit.

Well I didn't know it was a quest when I started but I think that's usually the way of such things.

While my mother tries on nothing when in a store, I try on everything. It's not only about fit. It's a form of playing dress up. I don't linger too long, always take care not to damage the clothing in any way, and, because I cannot be helped, often leave with something even if that wasn't my intention. I like to know if I'm being too quick to judge a new trend, and the only way to do that is to put it on my body. To slowly turn in front of a mirror and examine it from all angles. To be able to categorize it as simply not for me, maybe only for me, or definitely not for anyone.

My time working in apparel retail only reinforced this habit. At the beginning of each new season, everyone would have to do a fit session to better acquaint themselves with the product and provide feedback to corporate. And so while on the clock I would take all of the major pieces of the new collection into a fitting room and test them out. Even now that the retail chapter of my life has ended, I continue to wander into stores for fit sessions. I live tweet my mall journeys and post pictures, always tilted slightly one way or the other, of suits and skirts and dresses and jeans.

I spent most of 2014 being "kind of blown away by" or "maybe [sold] on" the occasional jumpsuit seen on a celebrity at a red carpet event. I was warming to them outwardly but inwardly I struggled. I rarely took pictures of myself during jumpsuit try-ons. Something always felt off. The leg was too wide. It was too tight across the thighs. The crotch did unpleasant things. The top made my chest look as if it were bound. And yet I kept trying them on. It only took one pass at an off-the-shoulder top last summer to know that that trend was not for me. But in 2014 and early 2015, I couldn't shake myself free of the jumpsuit.

It took many frustrating months for me to find that first pair of skinny jeans, but I kept at it because I wanted them. I needed them. And what did I need nearly a decade later? A jumpsuit. I didn't know why. If I'm being honest, I rarely do when it comes to clothing with this strong a draw. There's no logic. Only longing. 

Almost exactly two years ago, I stepped into an H&M fitting room with a black, white, and gray jumpsuit covered in a big cat print. The color scheme was all me but on the hanger everything else about it was wrong. I rarely wear graphic prints. And it was, of course, a jumpsuit. I was years into my denial about them and happy to stay there. But then I put it on.
It was over. In an instant. Like magic. I couldn't find a single fault. More importantly, I was no longer interested in searching for one.