Category Archives: fashion

Back on the chain gang….

We here in central Kentucky somehow avoided being roasted during what was globally the hottest month ever recorded, in what may still turn out to be the hottest YEAR ever. Most of the summer here was wet and temperate, but we have reverted to the scorching mean the past few weeks.

I hadn’t planned to do so, but it turns out I took the summer off from blogging. My last offering was right around Memorial Day (and it was a recycled post at that….)

But you know, recycling is good.

As per I-d:

Did you know that 95% of binned clothes could have been re-worn or recycled, and recycling one T-shirt saves 2100 litres of water? Basically, you can help save the planet by not clogging up landfills and not squandering the natural resources used in fabric production.

Since then over 14,000 tonnes of old clothes have been collected globally, and now the Swedish brand has launched Close the Loop, a collection of 10 denim pieces made from the textiles recycled from the Garment Collecting initiative.

Look, I’m fully aware that big corporations are constantly trying to piggyback onto noble causes while continuing their unsustainable, avaricious, capitalistic ways, but … I can’t find anything to criticize in this campaign.

Plus, this video promoting the campaign is terrific:

That’s all I got this morning. It’s upbeat and positive, and goes against the summer’s trend of dispiriting news: climate change, mass shootings, and a rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem, cheating at golf.

Good things on the Internet: swingin’ sixties and seventies edition

Here, presented without comment, a selection of images from what in my humble opinion is one of the Best Blogs Ever.

Just. Go. Here.

Liz Eggleston’s impeccably and indefatigably curated collection of sixties and seventies images–the glorious, the tacky and the gloriously tacky–mainly from her own scans of British and French magazines, is an unspeakably great treasure. Her focus is on the British Boutique movement, but she confesses to being inspired by “the weirder, even seedier, aspects of popular culture.” This is the kind of amateur (in the French sense) labor of love that the pre-listicle era Internet promised, but really didn’t deliver….

 

boucanier-november-1972

omar-sharif

nice-girls-do-2

wedge4

sockssmockscombinations7

smirnoff

fair-weather-friends-3

rose-tinted-quant

annacat

guiness-september-1973

Model lawsuit against Next agency: WikiLeaks for really good-looking people

Karmen, her contract, and Terry

It doesn’t compare with the uncovering of 15,000 Iraqi corpses no one had previously acknowledged (but that is not exactly a trending Twitter topic today, is it?)  Still, there are some eye-opening revelations contained in “What Vogue really pays its models”.

I harbor no illusions about the fashion industry (two words: Terry Richardson!), but I was actually kind of shocked by Jenna Sauers’ examination of the numbers and arrangements brought to light by the $3.75 million lawsuit filed by three eastern European models against the Next Agency.

Really, the day rate for “new faces” at Vogue is $125. And for “established models” $250!

Although that is pretty hard to square with the only model quote most people remember (“We don’t wake up for less than ten thousand dollars a day”), apparently the editorial pay rate is hardly a secret.

BUT, in at least one model’s case, those modest fees still hadn’t been paid nearly a year after being incurred. And after looking over the contracts,  you could make the case that the agency in question, which is supposed to work on behalf of the models, offers something like indentured servitude for all but a few of  them.

The piece is funny/shocking, a perfect balance of outrage/bemusement (the author, Jenna Sauers, is a former model). The myriad ways agencies take advantage of their clients (typically teenagers, frequently girls with little or no English) is dizzying, to say the least.

A brief excerpt, and Sauers’ conclusion:

Next also includes in its standard contract a provision that it be permitted to keep up to $5,000 of a model’s earnings in what it calls a “Reserve Account,” just in case Next incurs any expenses on the model’s behalf at some time in the future. Pedaru isn’t subject to this clause — it’s crossed out. But in its standard form, this contract binds a model to a management agency that will first take 20% of everything that she earns, then take a bite out of the rest for miscellaneous expenses that it need not inform the model of beforehand or seek her permission for, a management company that may book her on jobs for clients that have a record of non-payment at her sole risk, and then, if she’s still in the black after all that — and a lot of newer models, especially those on the hook for the travel costs booked by the agency, and the rent at the models’ apartment the agency owns, and the grocery and phone bill money they have to borrow against their future earnings (at a 5% penalty) which agencies call “pocket money,” are most assuredly not in the black after the above calculations — if that model is in the black after all that, the first $5,000 left over is the agency’s to hold on to. Just in case. Pedaru was three months shy of her 16th birthday when she signed her contract with Next.

The lessons here? Vogue Paris pays crap, Vogue pays not much better, neither of them pays particularly quickly, and campaigns are worth a mint to everyone lucky enough to work on them. And if you are a 5’10” 15-year-old with 34″ hips who would like a job where you’ll bear all the market risks associated with your labor, be solely responsible for expenses outlayed by others on your behalf without your consent, and maybe meet nice, successful men like Terry Richardson, modeling might just be the ticket.

Couture clash: Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo?

Edward Klein’s Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? is a film I knew by reputation, but only just this weekend got around to watching. I loved it.

It’s had some high profile screenings this past summer, at Walker Art Center in my hometown of Minneapolis and at the Metropolitan Museum in my other hometown, in conjunction with the Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion exhibition.

This film has shoehorned its way into my all-time favorites list. From the opening scene, a fashion show where the models wear sheet-metal outfits, and the imperious editor (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Diana Vreeland) pronounces that the designer has “created the Eve for the nuclear age,” it’s a satirical tour de force, a commentary on fashion, celebrity and media that hasn’t lost any of its bite.

It’s funny, sexy, stylish as a film is possible to be, and shot in that gorgeous high-contrast black and white almost-verité style you see in Godard’s Masculin/Feminin and Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night, another film from an American expat. Oh, to have been one in those days!

The star, Brooklyn-born American fashion model Dorothy McGowan is pretty much just being herself and not really caring what anyone thinks of her.  She’s perfectly suited for her role, as were the Beatles, who had the same attitude. (See, especially, the classic “Dead Grotty/early clue to the new direction” scene where George stumbles into a youth marketing man’s office). Jean Rochefort plays the television producer who sets out to make fun of the superficial girl, but she is tougher and smarter than he thinks, and he ends up falling in love with her and pondering his own nothingness (I know! but it’s a sixties French movie, after all).  A good chunk of the film is occupied with a subplot involving a handsome prince who is smitten with Polly’s image, and the hapless spies he sends to track her down.

With her moon face, rabbit’s teeth (her own description), and  huge eyes (usually featuring some extreme deployment of mascara,  liner and false eyelashes), McGowan’s gorgeous, and impossible not to look at, even when she is out of makeup, in her tiny little apartment, more appropriate for a student than a cover girl.

Klein’s photography is spectacular: in the fashion scenes as you would expect, but also in many shots of the quotidian life of Parisians (he loves tight shots of crowds from belly-button level): queued  up for a cafeteria, getting into heated political arguments, stewing in traffic jams.  And there is this strange and wonderful animated sequence that brings to mind Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python animations.

Alas, McGowan apparently stopped modeling and acting after this film. “Every time they take my picture, there’s a little less of me left. So what will be left of me in the end? I’d like to know.”

Before and after

models before and after

Nothing new, but I’ve had that Ralph Lauren Photoshop debacle on my mind lately. This year-old slide show is from the New York magazine Web site, and features “before” shots of bare-faced models, and “after” shots of them made up for the Milan Gucci show. The transformations are pretty dramatic, but there are other striking things about this: mainly, that these girls look awfully gaunt in their au naturel state (though, it must be said, they are still, er, lookers). But they look particularly unwell to my eyes, like they’d been partying all night. And maybe they had.

I am something of an agnostic on the heated body image debate fashion models tend to ignite. Yes, many of them are WAY too thin,and present bad role models (though I’ve never really believed in that concept). But to me, the extreme body modification implicit in their business is not all that different from what’s expected of athletes, especially in dimension-focused sports like basketball and especially football. Not to mention that the opposite of obsessive thinness is a true epidemic of obesity that is ruining the health of, and killing, people in far greater numbers than anything eating disorders cause.

The commodification of people’s bodies is at the root of this, which is sort of self-evident and not really helpful. OK. At bottom I blame capitalism. There, I said it. Next subject.

Kinky boots/the worst canvas imaginable

I love this video, not for its critique of the over the knee boot trend in fashion capitals Paris and New York.  That I will leave to the crazy/brilliant/crazy Awl writer Mary HK Choi:

I can’t deal. It’s fall 2009 and what they’ve predicted has all come true. I’ve seen ’em. They’ve officially descended upon us like the vinyl-clad seat of a dominatrix who mistakenly thinks we want our faces suffocated. They’re everywhere. On the street. On public transportation. The sticky, deplorable, throbbing, bastard mass sprung from the loins of FASHION like so much Strangé perfume from Grace Jones’ womb: the over-the-knee-boot.

This is old news as far as EVERYBODY showing some version of this on their runways for fall but now we’re beginning to see them, not on the spindly femurs of stick people like Vogue Nippon’s Anna Dello Russo who’s so thin JAPANESE people want to give her a sandwich and then fly a plane sideways through the isosceles triangle of negative space between her thighs. I’m seeing this scourge on the worst canvas imaginable—regular folk. The Gucci, Louboutin, Choo, Chanel has trickled down to Charlotte Russe, Victoria’s Secret and Steve Madden and yo, this is BAD NEWS.

No, my interest is in the cackling, clearly extemporaneous voice over by legendary NY Times street cameraman Bill Cunningham. A New York Times personality who talks like a New Yorker. That is actually cool.

[Having a hard time getting an embedded video from the NYTimes site, so the link at the top of the post will have to do. At least I know it works.]

Twisted, funny, very funny

julia-roberts-allure-march-2009

This is the second Letters to the editors of women’s magazines, with Edith Zimmerman. It’s in (on?) The Awl.com. It’s demented AND hilarious. I hope it becomes a regular thing.

Two samples:

Summer lovin’
Zooey Deschanel’s “31 Days of Summer” is posted on my wall so I can cross off her ideas as I try them. Dining alfresco, running under a sprinkler and air-drying my hair are as rewarding as I thought they’d be. I can’t wait to see what Deschanel is up to next!
Kathryn P., Getzville, NY (Self, October 2009)

Zooey Deschanel’s “31 Days of Summer” is posted on my wall so I can rub my hands against it as often as I want. I trimmed off most of the text so it’s pretty much just her face. I’ve also been licking the eyes, so those are almost entirely worn away as well. What a great article, thank you!
Allison Fruiterson, Las Vegas

and

Where Has Your Glamour Been?
On my honeymoon in Peru, I took my Glamour with me to Machu Picchu—a long train ride. Later I passed the magazine on to a Peruvian woman I met on the train who was learning English.
Christeen M., Denver (Glamour, October 2009)

On my honeymoon in Peru, I passed my copy of Glamour on to a Peruvian woman who was learning English—but just for a sec, and then I threw it out the window. “What? Oh, you wanted that?” I said. “Well boo hoo, you rotten old idiot, there’s such a thing as buying your own shit, you stupid moron.” That dumb foreign idiot!
Ginger F., via e-mail