Easing into autumn, starting with my nails. It’s all I can stand for now.
Tomorrow is the Coney Island Mermaid Parade–it is everything campy and summery and I’ve been counting down to it since April. For outfit inspiration (not that I need to dress in costume, being that I am, in fact, a real life mermaid) I looked back to the SS12 shows and picked out an assortment of my favorite under-the-sea inspired/themed looks. For my part, I’m really hoping to see at least one person there dressed like a sea anemone à la McQueen.
Armani, Marchesa, Antonio Berardi
And of course, for accessories (the best accessories being any creative incorporation of fishnet and seaweed, but we have to work with what we’ve got) there is the Givenchy shark-tooth pendant, a mermaid wrap ring and, my personal favorite, a Little Mermaid-themed ring by Disney Couture (I will not rest until I own this).
Right now I’m reading John Waters’ excellent collection of essays, Role Models, and my favorite so far (after “Baltimore Heroes”) has been the one he wrote about Rei Kawakubo and his own evolution from youthful, deliberately bad fashion and thrifting for the costumes of his early movies to dressing in the stained and shredded outfits he’s found at Comme des Garçons as he’s gotten older (as he says, you don’t need fashion designers when you’re young).
I especially love the quote about dressing badly in the eyes of your peers, but I don’t know if it’s as relevant of a concept today. We’ve come to value individuality and personal style so highly and the ability to not just reference, but replicate, fashions from the past has caused us to become such a nostalgic society, that I don’t know if you can truly dress in bad or outdated fashion unless it’s totally inadvertent.
I think a lot of people today dress outlandishly because bad dressing is the new good fashion, we have access so much through technology, that it takes a lot to excite us anymore. As I read it, the essay reminded me of my senior year of college when I shopped solely at the Good Will up the block from me and looked for the most garish and dated articles of clothing they had. I bought polyester blouses with shoulder pads (the bad kind) and cinched waists, a pair of soccer mom khaki shorts that were 4 sizes to big, and lots of moth-eaten grandpa cardigans.
When I dressed that way it was unquestionably bad fashion because it was looking to be different rather than dressing in a way that reflected who I was or projected who I wanted to be, regardless of whether or not it got me noticed. Which is not to say that looking different or dressing in a way that gets you noticed can’t simply mean that you’re wearing something truly stylish. I think that the woman in the picture below (in Chanel, Comme des Garçons, and Hermès) is absolutely stunning. And it’s not just the clothes, it’s her stride and expression. It’s that she’s a real person giving life to fantastical and beautiful clothing.
In that same vein, I love Rei Kawakubo because she stops you in your tracks with clothing that isn’t practical but that expresses a distinct point of view. Season after season she sends models out on the runway wearing art and appreciating it has little to do with necessarily finding it wearable. Her clothing is stunning and whimsical and affecting and difficult to understand or originate, because as she herself has said, she is always looking to create something that has never been done before.
Even in doing something as commercial as an H&M capsule collection (which I’ve been treasure-hunting for on ebay), she toned down proportions and generally simplified, but stuck with her aesthetic of structured, high-impact silhouettes.
The SS12 collection was what first captured my attention–including a treatment of wedding dresses–masterfully layered, voluminous, and ranging from tender to suffocating–that immediately sent me searching for past Comme des Garçons collections. Since then I’ve also become a huge fan of Kawakubo’s former apprentice, Junya Watanabe, whose line is a sub-label of Comme des Garçons and who uses everything from the most technologically advanced fabrics to simple cotton and twill to create draped, ruched looks, and have just begun to take notice of Tao Kurihara, another sub-label.
I would really love to find a floral blazer with a kind of Ming vase blue and white floral print–sort of like the prints that Erdem showed for SS12, but in the more traditional, simple blue and white.
to be worn over an outfit like this:
Being that it is Super Bowl Sunday, my Ravens were eliminated two weeks ago, and I can’t stand to hear another analyst talk about how well Tom Brady plays under pressure, I decided to do a room sweep and toss some of what I’ve accumulated over the years.
I came across a whole storage bin, the contents of which (essentially a copy of Bergdorf Blondes and ripped out pages of early aughts issues of Vogue) proffered me a Proustian rush as I remembered being a chubby, frizzy-haired seventh-grader in love with fashion.
Then, a sample of my sartorial obsessions included Kylie Minogue’s Givenchy Grammy dress (the reminiscence of which was recently sparked for me by the Spring 2012 Balmain collection), Molly Ringwald’s wardrobe (princess bridesmaid dress included) in Sixteen Candles, and the costume designs for Padmè Amidala in the first two Star Wars prequel films (you had to assume I was a SW nerd as soon as you read the words “chubby” and “frizzy”).
Being in the early years of an eventual seven at a suburban Baltimore prep school, I also possessed the requisite passion among my classmates for popped collars in pastels and for the palm tree prints prominently displayed on their Lilly dresses. After all the spirit colors chosen by my graduating class were pink and lime green (something that I hated during my adolescent romance with punk rock and diy scenesters in high school, but now love).
As for designers, I held Chanel in the highest esteem then as I do now and, in fact, it was a coffee table book on the life of Coco housed in the baroque living room at my mother’s best friend’s columned home that really sparked my awareness of expression through personal style. I loved Zac Posen, Tracy Reese, Anna Sui, Betsey Johnson, Cynthia Rowley, and Sass and Bide (almost as much for the name as for the clothes). How I even became aware of that array of designers is lost on me, but I suspect the Style Network (back then in its Jerseylicious-less heyday) played a large role.
I’ve only recently started paying attention to some of those designers again and spent a good part of today looking at their latest outings on Style.com. I’m glad I did because I still find myself attracted to the collections that these designers are putting out.
Anna Sui is creating vibrant, lively clothing and her rockstar-hippie aesthetic still feels fresh and interesting. Tracy Reese is still producing the sartorial soundtrack for my dream trip to Cuba. And Cynthia Rowley’s sense of whimsical sophistication is as swell as ever. As for Sass and Bide, there simply aren’t words. I’m absolutely nuts about everything they’re doing.
I’m always a little surprised about what good taste 12 year old me had (that being within the slightly biased context of what 22 year old me now considers to be good taste, of course). But at the end of the day 12 year old me and 22 year old me also share a similar bank account balance, so I’ll just have to content myself with the obnoxiously mindless popping of all my collars and a movie ticket to obsess over how the Hunger Games costume designers decided to interpret Katniss Everdeen’s girl-on-fire outfit.