Sunday, October 9, 2011

Charley Gallay At Bleicher Project Space




Bleicher Project Space presents for the month of October:
Foto! Ray-Gun! Mambo!
Photographic works by Charley Gallay
October 2nd – 31st
Opening Reception: October 15th, 2011 5pm
Bleicher Project Space
Bleicher Gallery 355 North La Brea Ave Los Angeles CA 90036
Curated by Shannon Rowland
Foto! Ray-Gun! Mambo! features a selection of Los Angeles photographer Charley Gallay’s recent lurid, cinematic portraiture. Occupying the unsettled border between then and now, the photographs in Foto! Ray-Gun! Mambo! evoke both a technicolor exuberance and the transistor twang of lonesome America.
Charley Gallay shoots for an unnamed photo agency and, as such, his images have appeared in numerous publications, including the NYTimes, Elle and Vanity Fair. Moreover, at one time Hallmark™ produced a greeting card based on a photograph of Willie Nelson that he took on-stage while Willie was playing “Whiskey River” at dusk, in the desert, in front of fifty-thousand people. True story. It was beautiful.

Charley Gallay. Yes.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Thinking About Dresses, In A Shop


Welcome to my inbox ... multiply this by the square root of a lot more and that's archived, tucked away, some with labels like Fashion or Taxes. An unlikely pairing but this is 2011 and anything goes.

The shows are very much on and I think Vogue UK hands down won my affection by letting its readers choose which shows to be notified about. Slideshows and delivered so quickly, the best part of technology.

Buyers are likely to have upset tummies and genteel albeit well-heeled fear bordering on headline-induced panic. Headlines screaming dangerous conditions for the European banks and GDP declines, unemployment ramping and the symbolic Wall Streets of major cities invaded with squatters that are angry and supporters that want to make sure they can continue the vigil well-fed, with doctors standing by, ex-Marines volunteering to protect them from rough handling, entertainment is provided and speakers encourage and support the movement. However, fashion needs orders from shops to survive and the absolutely unrelenting grimness of this moment is making this a season not as usual.

2008 was rough and then it got better. We hoped. We bought dresses, discovered that we could order almost everything online, return it without a fuss and were hooked. A generational change accompanied by shops own fashion videos, all the Vogue's having street style and fashion style blogs and media that we could read on an iPhone or iPad. Sometime in 2010 shops were doing well, some of the weaker ones weeded out and mad markdowns were a nice memory. Back to end of the season reductions and nice balance sheets, a stock market that actually did a round trip and you were whole again.

I tucked away the handful of snips for Tom Ford's decision to hold back on the video and photographs actually relieved. Something not at saturation levels. Usually when things are economically rocky or depressing, there's a rush of creativity at an outsider level. It's true again. Hogan McLaughlinTrash-Couture, Sylvia Heisel and Eilis Boyle certainly would make your toes curl in delight, make you want to pony up to full retail and impulsively text all your friends to come look at what they're doing.

Having had a shop and missing it so much now, my heart goes out to the indie shops that are struggling with minimums, poor deliveries, editorial credits that go to the larger stores while rent and the cost of being in business is staggering. Buying in Europe, even with mileage offsetting some or all of the flights, is a small fortune, even with the weakness in the Euro.

Dear retailers, become enthusiastic and turn over every single thing in the showroom to find only the perfect clothes. Buy the sizes you can sell and don't try to stock every single size, color and fabric. Think of picking pieces for a T-stand, only the loveliest, like a curated exhibition. Tell the menacing, greedy showroom staff that this is what you want, you don't want another shop in your city to have it and you do need editorial credits. You can't have a one-way relationship where you simply give in to silly minimums and multiple locations. If the shipment is past due, and you really can't accept it, call them. Let them know and perhaps they will offer a little discount, you will ask for a large one and it can work out. Be nice, be very nice. If a rocker chick or a socialite buys their dress, let them know. It makes them unreasonably happy. If you've been buying the collection for some time and it's gotten a new designer, often in Italy, and it's nothing like what you have been selling well, gently tell them that you will need to test a few pieces. You can always find a simple something, keep the doors open because if you're not loving it, the rest of their customers likely won't and the awkward designer will soon be out. Especially in Italy, it's about the factory and knowing what they can do.

You have to love what you do and you have to get a little tougher. It's just the worst feeling to have a each of expensive slinky designer evening dresses and your competition is the designer coaxing actresses, your customers, into the dress for a red carpet and there is no sale.

So many dresses paraded each season and they are not all going to sell. The slideshows are done, the magazines have chosen some for editorials and there's backstage photos even unto the lunch plate.

It's a business, it's having a rocky moment and you have to be more open to finding the next indie who could become the next big thing as the once Sicilian-widow house of Dolce & Gabbana was. All of the editorials about the collections are about collections, not the specific gorgeous finds there are. Big difference and brushed aside too easily. The work is in the showroom. A great show is fun and will likely have little bearing on the buying.  Great windows and a great website, a chatty blog, photos of the pieces as they come in your shop to be posted to Facebook and tumblr and twitter .. a fresh pot of coffee, bottled water, cookies and an impeccable shop make it fun all over again. Lost in the democracy of fashion is the experience of your favorite sales person calling you to come in right now because the most beautiful piece, so right for you, could sell out.

Retail is cool again. The antidote to the isolation of the computer screen and with cookies.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Love You New York



Free live streaming by Ustream
I wish this were just another lame blockbuster of impeding doom. Go away, Irene, get lost. 

If you cannot take your pets with you - and they are very welcome at all shelters - leave a note on your door that they are inside.

Dues paid with an earthquake and hurricane in the same week, never before never again.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

The 411 On AA+ And Global Ping Pong


Double A's are better suited to bra sizes, maybe shoe widths, than to America's S&P rating. Denmark has a triple A rating and universal health care; the USA has lost its AAA and doesn't have universal health care. Triple A is a whole lot better than the measly AA+ S&P assigned America. China has already suggested that its yuan become the world currency standard.

Those tidy 401K's had recovered and maybe a little better than simply recovered from the '08 tumble, in no small part brought on by S&P rating Lehman's triple A and last week's 7% downfall in the stock market is really deja vu in the worst possible way.

The acrimony in the world over economic issues is fulminating and headlines are filled with attention-grabbing scary words. The truth is that if you had sold your stock portfolio off at the bottom, and many did, you'd have lost half your money. If you held, you got it all back and maybe more - Apple fell to a low of about 86.00 and recently was over 405.00. True that it's been thrown back to 362.00 in the global panic selloff last week, but considering it has actually more cash in the bank than the US Treasury, chances are that it will recover, perhaps more quickly than the US Dollar. And if you have spare cash, it would probably be good to begin piecing into Apple and a few boring stocks with nice dividends. Click here for the full list and of course find out everything about the company.

How to get through this crisis? Vote because the disharmonious antics in Washington are yelling that they cannot resolve issues without partisanship. It's a mess. But know that it really is different this time. Companies, about 70% of the stock market, have gorgeous balance sheets with tons of cash and profits, and Hermes and Apple continue to sell everything they make. Not so much for Walmart, Sears or Gap but that's simply because of disappointing everything, not the economy.

Living well why the headlines roll away is a good idea. Dire sensationalism sells and keeps life edgy. Chances are the world markets will be churning and working out the static. Bernie Madoff is not around anymore and the SEC is picking off the lesser Ponzi-schemers like whack-a-mole. Sweating nervously while  global economies do ping pong with your 401K will not last forever. It'll get better. There will never be a sale on Birkins, sigh.







Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse: Rehab and What You Must Know


Amy Winehouse is trending on Twitter because she is dead. Gutted, horrified, angry, sad, tragic .. the language of loss. A dozen songs or so that will live forever, while all hope for her is gone forever.

Addiction kills. It's ugly and the process of watching someone be at risk is painful. Sometimes, sometimes something stops it.

Sometimes it's just wasted words to say Get Help Now.

If you love someone, don't get into denial about the risks. Learn them, know them, deal with it. Sometimes it's as simple as taking the car keys or saying no to everything. Sometimes you can't stop them no matter what you do.

Get support. Not from your friends but from people who have walked in your shoes. Just do it so that someone you love will never trend on twitter because they're dead.

Al-Anon for you so you can do something good and maybe save some lives .... link.

It Gets Better


I was just thinking that the hot days of summer, the rancor in Washington that doesn't end, the debates about health care and the days of guns and gold that have become ceaseless. Languid summery days that are missed with all the rhetoric and anger, extremism and fear.

As the hot days yearn for cooler nights, there will be resolution du jour and we'll move on. Wishing that middle school, that playground that shows a glimpse of the adult world ahead, included a couple of mandatory courses in civility and that ethic would prevail long after those happy days.

The relentless pounding of please and thank you of our childhood given way to Mean People and Harshness. Imagine living in a country that would flog you for wearing sunglasses or wearing a headdress to school and other unimaginable infringements.

Wearing white and offering white roses is sweet but what really matters?

Allow another driver to slip in front of your car .. they'll gratefully wave thank you and probably do it again.

Look for something attractive about everyone, because we are all just human.

Refuse to participate in those mean, bullying Who Wore It Better or How Could She forums .. it's mean mean mean. Oh and get that piece of spinach out of your teeth.

Don't do a Sarah Palin and think there are real Americans and then the rest, laugh at anyone who attempts divisivness as a blue eyed-brown eyed experiment in real time; admire her capitalism and then switch to ignore.

Give a bottle of water and a sandwich to the homeless person that scares you. Some of them will say thank you.

Smile at someone for no reason.

Say bad words when you stub your toe because medical research, the empirical kind, has determined it will make you feel better.

Presume your friends and family love you ... accept them. Unless they're toxic and hurting you; if so, shun them and heal.

Understand something about addiction and the horrible things it does because it may happen to someone you love; they need help and you need to man up. Support their recovery and their health.

Health care is a right, not an option. That's all.

Boys and men are often physically stronger than you. Know how to defend yourself or get help, and when to scream your head off. I did when that man chased me with a knife.

Demand that your children say please and thank you; know all their passwords, that's a fact of life.

Demand that Facebook take down threatening pages, hate pages and mean pages. Just. Do. It.

Don't live with blank walls and pages. Look at beautiful things and live longer (well, I think so.)

Don't buy counterfeit designer goods if you can help it. It's made by the children of the world and hungry people. That's the truth.

Say hello to everyone you run into. See what happens.

Buy the best quality basics you can (hello sales, I love you). You probably need a black pencil skirt, two fabulous white shirts (one tailored, one fantasy), a black and navy cardigan, pearls, good black pumps, Spanx and a good set of underwear.

Don't give to the people in front of markets that ask you for money to save the homeless or battered women. Do it online because chances are they are all big fat liars.

Accept that someone believes differently, thank them for their thoughts and roll your eyes only when you have walked away.

Make sure all children tell all the bad things bad people do. It is not ok to have children keep secrets.

Vote. Give money to the candidate that you really believe in. Don't give up.

Get angry at mean people. Really angry.

It is not a sin to dress badly and get over mocking anyone. Stop your kids on the spot if they do.

Read. Read everything you can to understand more and more.

Learn about investments so that your 401K doesn't ever become a 101K again. Read.


There's not a lot I can do to change the world except little by little making things a little bit better. I don't know the answers at all but I think that kindness and happiness is contagious. I hope so.

The white roses are early John Galliano.






Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Different Way: Armani Prive Fall/Winter 2011/12






Ok, I have to admit that I hate reading about snipes, quotes, from Mr. Armani against other Italian designers. It's entirely declasse and unnecessary. Diego Della Valle snapped back with another take and an invitation to join him in raising money for a restoration of the Colosseum. Mr. Armani declined.  It's just not seemly.

While I was almost rhapsodic about Karl's silhouette and mood at Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2011/12 because it made me lust for tight little jackets and a sort of bohemian but brave attitude, the Armani Prive collection confused me. The clothes are certainly beautiful but something is missing and these seem harsh, a rendition at the highest price levels that simply works hard.

Mr. Armani knows what he's doing and what his customer wants. I don't understand that customer, the woman who allows clothes to walk in the room slightly ahead of her. Beauty of another kind but absolutely beautiful. These dresses likely begin at 20,000.00.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sylvia Heisel: Some Random Thoughts







so here go some random thoughts…..

i can't believe i still do this…..i'm not sure i still love or understand "fashion" but i still love designing and making clothes…..

my business has gone through a lot of different stages and identities in all these years….

20 years ago i was a young hip downtown NY designer…..no money, lots of press, very creative small company designer fashion…..then downtown got claustrophobic and being poor stopped being okay and i moved uptown and my clothes lost a lot of their creative edge and became more commercial and i made money…..then i ran the business sort-of on autopilot and renovated an apartment in manhattan and a really rural home in the Catskills….then i fell in love and married an artist…..then the economy crashed and i stopped making money……….now my business is a lot smaller and i've moved back downtown with my artist husband and i'm trying to be as creative as possible and make beautiful clothes and places and events and whatever else inspires me….

the bridal came about because someone (Robert Taylor) in the bridal business approached me about doing it….i don't understand the bridal business at all but the dresses are a lot of fun to design….sort-of like decorating giant cupcakes….

the apartment was incredibly much fun to do and has inspired us to pursue a lot of great new projects….it came about because we were renting an apartment in a very fancy new construction apartment building and everything was falling apart and the management fixed nothing….at a certain point almost everything had been put in storage because of leaks and nails that came through walls and other stuff and we knew were leaving at the end of our lease (4 months later ) and it just seemed like a fun thing to do…it took about a month to complete, cost very little (lots of tape, some fabric and a little paint) and we removed everything when we left….NY Magazine seeing it was random lucky break….

from that my husband and i have started doing other temporary design projects….Scott is a sculptor who was a bartender at Studio 54, an owner of nightclubs in NY and LA, and an assistant to event florist Robert Isabel at other times in his life…..we both have a love of crazy over-the-top stuff and like making things….

we're especially interested in making things and places that are temporary and made from recycled or recyclable materials….also what i've become very interested in with clothes….

fashion is really strange right now and i have a really hard time wrapping my brain around it…..to me, a lot of what the world thinks of as fashion is luxury product and very conservative and even more of it is just stuff that celebrities wear…..and a lot of what we all wear (myself included) is very function and comfort driven and not particularly creative….

these days i'm much more interested in making clothes that are either a part of other larger creative projects or are more conceptual and less functional as ready-to-wear clothing…..



the thing about couture and me is I love creating one-offs and special pieces but I hate working directly with the customer…..the moment it becomes about dressing mrs. cinderella for the ball and can i make the dress match the diamond earrings the emperor just bought her and haggling about the $'s  i'm miserable…..i like creating creative couture stuff more than dressing the rich and famous in luxury goods…..


Sylvia Heisel website here.






Madame Gres, A Guest Post From The Licentiate

This wonderful guest post is from Licentiate.                                                               
                                                                     
                                                                     
                                             
“I wanted to be a sculptor. For me, it’s the same thing to work the fabric or the stone” - Madame Grès'
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Museum poster
The Fashion/Art debate rages on.  While a Jean Paul Gaultier retrospective opens in Montreal and the news that Rodarte's first couture collection will soon appear at The LA County Museum of Art, one exhibition continues quietly on in Paris.
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Madame Grès, La Couture à L’Oeuvre’, which is showing at the Musée Bourdelle in Paris will close on the 24th of July.  In this exhibition is a lifetime of work and has possibly the closest examples of fashion as an artform on display.  It's only good and proper that sculptural dresses lie next to more conventional mouldings.  It's a move that legitimises the claim of fashion as a real artform. 
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Photo from Carmi's Art - there are some great close-ups here
The eighty examples of Madame Grès' are not outlandish, or controversial.  They do not assume lofty themes or have pretensions of grandeur.  They are sculpture in fabric.  Self-assured, impossibly executed and classically beautiful, the understatement of the simple forms emphasises the now extinct craftsmanship and inherent knowledge of a woman known first as Germaine Krebbs, then Alix, then Madame Grès.
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Spring 1944 - source
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Spring/Summer 1946 - source
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Autumn/Winter 1952/3 - source
It's a shame that the Grès name isn't better known.  On trying to explain who she was to the boyfriend, he thought that she had something to do with fine dining.  Perhaps a partner without an interest in fashion is a bad example, but this is a woman who existed in the golden age of female couturiers - she operated in the same city, within the same timeframe with Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin.  She should have been incredibly famous, but she died aged 90, in a home for the elderly, practically penniless after her name had been sold to a swiss licensing company, which now manufactures (not particularly good) perfumes.  Even though the archives of Chanel and Lanvin may be raided to provide inspiration for Lagerfeld and Lanvin, the craftsmanship of Gres cannot or will not be copied.  Her vast, intricate pleating was time intensive and took up yards of material to create mere centimetres of a waistline.  Her dresses were not tailored, they were draped and built around the body - a skill that is taught at precious few fashion schools, which are more geared towards fast fashion and profit margins than ever before.  Each dress was different and special - true to the spirit of couture. On reviewing this exhibition, Suzy Menkes said that "fashion can be an art form only with rigorous craftsmanship". Is that is true, then Madame Grès must be fashion's Michelangelo.
The Licentiate blog is stylish and intelligent; relishing views of fashion and its inhabitants with humor, kindness and honesty. I fell in love with her consideration of Anna Piaggi and Tavi Gevinson as kindred souls; of course she is correct and not bogged down by preconceptions. Thank you so much for our conversations and your work on this. Beautiful .. wicked good actually. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

On Father's Day




"I'm your father and mother," my mother would say when I was quite small. It made me cross because of course, I as a snarky five-year old would think, she was only my mother.

She dropped me off at a birthday party in Silverlake, admiring some very modern houses on the way, houses very different than our bungalow in Hollywood on a street where cars drove too quickly to leave it and there really was a stranger offering candy to children. I leaped out of her car into a happy house with its father sitting in a comfy chair with a cacophony of little girls, an entire first grade class. I handed off the present my mother had wrapped and noted that in the hierarchy of size and beautifully wrapped presents, it was small and the ribbon was tired.

The bow on my dress was generous and my black patent Mary Janes were shining, white lace ankle socks were clean and the memory of the baby powder sprinkled carefully into my shoe my mother remained. The father held up a book and twenty scattered girls flopped at his feet in unison, as we'd learned to do at school. I shut my eyes while he read, wondering again why I didn't have a father and a little angry at my mother.

My mother had told me stories that didn't make sense to a five-year old, that she'd loved my father so much that she'd torn up all his photos. She held my hand at an amusement park as she instructed the sketch artist on the details of my father. When it was done, she looked at it and remarked that my dark hair was very much like his. I liked that much more than the vague sketch of a father.

She sent me to private school, drove me to ballet three times a week and made my costumes, she found an upright piano and a teacher, she kept me home from school for an entire morning to make me learn the multiplication tables. She and I played dress-up and glided through the small house with books on our head. She let me wear her cherry red lipstick pretending not to notice that I'd taken it, again, from her purse. She clapped too loudly at recitals and spelling bees and unlike my classmates, she sat alone.

It was hard and would get harder for her as she struggled with secrets and mental illness. As her world fell apart, she kept my tutus hung carefully and smiled at me when I came home from school.

I miss her. My mother who was both mother and father.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Cristobal Balenciaga Museum




A rare Cristobal Balenciaga coat with the label Eisa B.E. from 1935 - 1938 is part of the ninety piece collectiion on exhibit at the Cristobal Balenciaga Museum that opened last week in the northern Basque region of Spain.

Like Bill Cunningham, his sexual preferences were discrete and unknown; his private life remained his.     He closed his House in '68 because he didn't like the direction of fashion.

Nicholas Ghesquierre is also a master of black.

Retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture 1962 - 2002


Pierre Berge maintained a complete archive of over 5,000 pieces which allowed the depth of the exhibition at the opulent Le Petit Palais. Cocaine nights and Haute Couture days, an antidote for the pain of L'amour Fou. 

Karl Lagerfeld once said to Chanel's chairman, Alain Werthheimer, "Chanel is an institution, and you have to treat an institution like a whore - and then you get something out of her." While luxury can be vulgar in its extravagance and hauteur, the beauty is compelling and in the fabled story of Yves Saint Laurent, heartbreaking and overwhelming.


This Is What Dreams Are Made Of, Well These Are My Dreams



This is what dreams are made of ... today, with the encouragement of a friend who loves stories and fashion (but mostly Azzedine, of course) I sent off the impossibly daunting proposal, something that seemed impossible to complete, to sort through the possibilities. "Elegance is refusal," a good Diana Vreeland saying for getting through a project, sorting through a closet, considering excess which is not decadent. Decadent layering of accessories is different, I think. It can happen. Just like reaching for what you want, which is the good thing .. dreaming.

Stan Rogow produced the Lizzie McGuire television show, which made him the King of Tweens. And made me a Hollywood Wife for a long time (and now Hollywood Mom; Jackson is filming his third season on Cartoon Network's Dude What Would Happen). Sadly that fell apart, not really over a white belt but that was part of it. Don't ever hate a white belt!! 

We went to Rome to make the Lizzie McGuire movie written by the extraordinarily talented, amazingly comedic, brilliant Susan Estelle Jansen, with Jackson given eight weeks of school work and homework. On breaks and at lunch Jackson tried to keep up with homework when he wasn't hiding in Hilary's trailer. Huge tables at lunch with Hilary and Jackson doing math together, curling up on the floor of our hotel elevator to see who the tinier was. Jackson is the Curly Haired Boy in the credits; he's the young boy at the airport. 

Hilary's dress for the video just wasn't right and the movie flailed for a little. It was crazy important and all I could think of was Alexander McQueen's ruffled ballgowns. His office told me they couldn't do one quickly enough. Dave Robinson, the costume designer from Zoolander (ok, yes, the world's greatest movie ever!!) designed the ballgown that can be ripped off so she can dance.

I hit send this morning on the proposal email humming this song because This Is What Dreams Are Made Of. Oh, and plotting out the next one ... The Hollywood Wife, Hollywood Mom one. Dreams.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm Confused, Counterfeits Are To Be Celebrated?


Sidney Gittler was the world's largest buyer of Haute Couture at a time when line for line copies were cool. I know; my mother oohed at some and others that did not meet her standards reduced her to a haughty churlish glare, flaring nostrils and tightened cherries-and-snow lips. Well, that was a long time ago. Yves Saint Laurent sued Ralph Lauren over copying the iconic YSL tuxedo dress he first showed in '66 and again during the fall '91 Haute Couture collection, collecting 395,000.00 for the finding of "counterfeiting and disloyal competition." Azzedine Alaia flew to Los Angeles to sue a local manufacturer for outrageous copies of his things purchased from the Alaia chez Gallay boutique on Rodeo, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga both sued Steve Madden, and Louis Vuitton even goes after artists incorporating its iconic LV's.

I like Alan Schwartz. He's urbane and handsome and charming. I first met him at Helena's the night I met Eddie The Hat, the best "bad boyfriend" ever. I remember a Thanksgiving at his house crawling with football stars. His things were of fashion and affordable. I bought a few things for my shop, and they sold as well as the spendy, edgy European designers on the racks.

Sidney Gittler paid a caution, a fee to attend the Haute Couture shows with a commitment to buy a guaranteed amount of models, to be able to produce line for line copies. It's arguable whether copies impact  designer goods. Certainly there are wealthy customers who are proud to have an Hermes Birkin for 199.00 .. but each year, even in the dark shameful days of the recession, business at Hermes thrived. The Balenciaga motorcycle bag was copied even down to the under 20.00 level sold at Target; soulless, ugly things unlike the original.

Princess Kate seems very cool and unlikely to be riled up by the silliness and commercialization surrounding the Royal Wedding.

I wish Alan had resisted this time.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

L'Amour Fou ...The Crazy Love: A Story Of Piere Berge And Yves Saint Laurent But Surely Not The Only Story


I left the matinee of L'Amour Fou sadly, understanding for the first time the language of ennui: the feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction, the demon that crept in to seize joy from the brilliant, dazzling Yves Saint Laurent. Pierre Berge as his lover, partner and finally protector becomes an observer, even of his own life, as he prepares the collections of riches, serious art, objects and rare examples of furniture to be inventoried and packed for perhaps the most important auction ever at Christie's. The bidding went wild, competitive, frenzied; a chair selling for $28,000,000.00.  Pierre Berge is shown walking in alone, sitting alone; a duty of some kind is being carried out.

Once upon a time, Yves Saint Laurent had come to Christian Dior so very young and eager, smiling at life. Soon his own house and an awareness of the changing world and that street fashion was important to understand. It was with kindness, something that he radiated early in his career, that he launched a Pret a Porter collection, the first designer of the Haute Couture to do so; it would be produced by factories owned by Didier Grumbach's family. In the way that things move as they will, Didier Grumbach has become President of the Chambre Syndicale and Federation Francaise de la Couture.

Riches, mansions, fabulous friends, excesses and a gnawing pain as Saint Laurent withdrew more and more; when he gives up drinking and the drugs, he is alone with his work while Pierre Berge watches over him somberly, seemingly emotionless. There's no stop button, no bell, no help at all.

 Saint Laurent in his long white coat at his atelier contemplative, sketching, his bow at the end of the show until the final one, Catherine Deneuve supporting him. His collections are mere flashes, perfunctory, simply illustrating his work sparsely, a stingy rendition, unsatisfying; the Mondrian collection is a counter point to the Mondrian works they acquired, now being sent off to auction. The Russian collection flashes too quickly to allow the impact of that seminal collection, arguably his best.

Like an index to be checked off, a very young Saint Laurent had fun with a q&a, a moment for Betty Catroux's darkness and the hilarity he yearned for in LuLu de la Falaise, her fondness and compassion genuine, the houses, the gardens, the art, the scenes in clubs, always smoking, ever more introverted; it's shown and then the next scene, no small moments, almost impersonal.

I'm sure this is an allegory for the Pret a Porter that grew and grew alongside Saint Laurent's influence as a designer with his own shops. The YSL Rive Gauche was made in the Mendes factories that belonged to Didier Grumbach's family. It was Didier that brought Ossie Clark, Emmanuelle Khan, Jean Charles de Castelbajac and Issey Miyake to the historical Createurs et Industriel fashion show in Paris to be manufactured in his factories. The "little hands" of the Haute Couture gave way another level of fashion: industrialization.

The context of watching a simple albeit plodding documentation of the life and death of Saint Laurent witnessed by Pierre Berge, a man who thrust his hands in his pockets and walked heavily - alone, with the loss of Alexander Lee McQueen to suicide, Christophe Decarnin of Balmain replaced after being hospitalized for months with a serious kind of depression and the devastating implosion of John Galliano  caused by his depression and addiction was heavy and hard. It's not easy to understand the kind of pain that destroys lives. And why others escape this blight. I don't understand at all.

 Pierre Berge was asked if Saint Laurent would have swept the collection of their lifetimes to auction and he said no. No, Saint Laurent would have missed his treasures, each one.

Didier had once asked Charles and me if we could buy the collection for their South Coast Plaza Rive Gauche. I remember the gleam of the brass elevator marked with the YSL imprint taking us directly to the showroom; wood tables, racks of clothes, fitting models ... the usual. We worked easily, really just for the satisfaction of being buyers of Saint Laurent. Later on that trip we walked into the Valentino showroom that wouldn't sell to us and sat boldly at a table, beginning to write quite a nice order before we were discovered, Marco Rivera's finger wagging at us. We were buyers of Giorgio Armani which was produced in the same factories as Valentino and we thought we might have pulled it off.

Not quite a fashion film. It is disquieting, I think. The sadness Saint Laurent lived with was pervasive, eating away. Terrible.

the pleasure of old photos while facing the displeasure of organization




My pine work table is ten feet long and littered in books, Alice Drake's The Beautiful Fall amongst the lot, photo albums, two computers, one laptop, rolls of quarters for parking meters, note cards with notes that once meant something and an unused Staples Reward Certificate in the amount of 10.00 along with my white fingerless gym gloves and two cameras, one digital and one film.

Mary Rae McDonald, Karen Lamm, Rina and Adam Shankman cozying up on a loveseat, long-haired babes from the late '80's including me, Helena (she of the Helena Club funded by Jack Nicholson whilst living on the Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty complex) and Carole Childs (a rock n roll legend who just happened to date Bob Dylan for eleven years), Angelo and me (my hair, Angelo, what were we thinking??) in a Susie Becker dress she had made for me with five fittings (that would be Haute Couture, yes??),

Memorial Day and memories, the perfect time to try to organize thousands (over 38,000 actually) online photos scanned into iPhoto. 

Daunted.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

wearfigs.com ... My Amazing Cousin The Purveyor Of Socially Responsible Neckwear





Yes, that's my gorgeous cousin Heather surrounded by children. She is doing something extraordinary with her life and her happiness shows. As it should.

When Heather was in college, she made belts. Beautifully handworked and drop dead chic, any belt she delivered to Theodore's on Rodeo Drive sold out. Immediately. Nice, yes? Ambitious girl making fashion products? Yes to all of that. But this is not your ordinary Heather, no. All the money from the sale of the belts was sent to an orphanage in Vietnam.

Not that long ago, Heather started another business. Ties. Bowties. Bespoke and exquisitely made, available on her website FIGS Ties. Heather hasn't changed really. With each tie sold, she purchases a school uniform for a child in Kenya where poverty rages and children cannot afford the required uniform. That's pretty incredible, isn't it. 

I sent my gorgeous cousin a few questions because I can't imagine how she gets it all done. Lots done actually. Her answers are below. Yes, I am very proud of what she does.



HI MADS-
I just did a quick Q and A- let me know if you have any other questions or if this is what you wanted? xx00hh


Q & A

Q: How do you begin these projects with the marketing, manufacturing and selling?
A: Making a FIGS tie always begins with selecting and importing the highest quality fabrics and translating our designs into production.  The fabrics come from Italy, Northern Ireland, Britain, Australia - and are then hand sewn by our tailors in New York and Los angeles featuring our signature leather tie keepers and red bar tacks. 

Q: How did you find the way to donate a uniform with each tie sold?
A: Donating a school uniform to a child with the sale of each tie – Threads for Threads – is the heart of our company.  As such, it is so important to us that the communities we serve are a part of the process and are behind the mission as much as we are!  By employing tailors from the areas we help; and embracing personal relationships with our school communities, FIGS isn’t just a Los Angeles-based operation – it is global. 

Q: The cashmere project - when did this start and what made you think of it?
A:  FIGScashmere arose out of our resolve to fill a void in the scarf world for ridiculously soft cashmere.  Scarves have always been a mainstay of my wardrobe and it seemed like a natural progression for FIGS’ offering of neckwear.  They are a staple of basics and add a third dimension to an outfit. – it’s 100% ridiculous. 

Q: Tell us about your recent trip to Oxford.
A: I am so fortunate to have received a scholarship to study at the Oxford University School of Business.  I recently returned from my studies with the Finance Programme for Senior Executives and had an amazing experience.  Tre-cool. 

Q: Do you have help with the projects?
A: Team FIGS is behind every tie, each step of the way. We have an energetic group dedicated to seeing each tie serve two interwoven ideals – revitalizing the concept of dressing for success by supporting a child’s education, one tie at a time.  
For ever tie sold, FIGS gives a uniform to a child in need. 

Facts (of course any other salient facts, like your museum association, etc)
  • Clinton Global Initiative tie maker
  • Whitney Museum of American Art collaboration with artist Charles Ledray
  • Tom Colicchio’s Craft Restaurant collaboration
  • we do weddings and custom ties for individuals



Sunday, May 22, 2011

THE sole purpose of my in-basket this week seems to be to goad me into looking at fashion from the Cannes Film Festival."


A very good journalist who can take an acerbic stab at fashion that is tired or derivative, can become rhapsodic about spending time in Azzedine's kitchen (been there, en famille and it is a nice respite from the business of fashion) and can make language dance in staccato phrasing is emphatically tired of the emails from fashion designers.  Bitingly criticizing some "designer froth" as being aging and noting that it takes a great pair of legs to pull off hot pants while bemoaning the flood of emails and photos from Cannes, perhaps not aware of the irony in the statement that "because of the duration of Cannes, and the number of events — not just the premieres and the AmfAR AIDS gala on Thursday, but also daily photo calls and parties — the festival has outpaced the Oscars in style." Perhaps a reason for a crowded inbox.

The work of sorting invitations to runway shows, scheduling a showroom visit, viewing videos and lookbooks in the fashion capitals of the world is, umm, the job. It's work. It's damn nice work, I think. 

Maybe it is all too much every now and then. Take a nap, get a facial, go to a yoga class.

Kindly refrain from bemoaning the process and get interested again. Show don't tell and remember that there's always someone new that would slap their manicured fist down and ask you to scoot over because she wants to see every single photo. Every email. Everything.

Your readers do want to see the photos, read your delicious agnostic critiques and sigh over a slim foot in a hot red stiletto or black hot pants or chuckle at an overdone starlet. 

Sleep is restorative and if that doesn't work, well .. someone else will.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hermes Hermes And More Hermes








A gathering of flamingos is a flamboyance, there's a flock of birds, a school of fish, a litter of puppies, a pride of lions and then there is the Heritage Luxury Auction.

Hermes Hermes Hermes .. The matte crocodile Birkin at the top has a 76,000.00 beginning bid (actually it's 90,820.00 with the buyers premium). A collector's dream and actually far less than Jane Birkin's Birkin auctioned to raise funds for the survivors of the Japanese Disasters at a sweet 167,000.00.

Drowning in Birkins ... and extreme luxury.

(umm, authentic and actually all are substantially less than those rather questionable ones on eBay ..)

Fairy Tales, The Delicately Beautiful Sarah Burton and Please Live Happily Ever After




Three billion people may have watched the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, happy at another fairy tale and hoping that they live happily ever after. The memories of the other Royal Wedding, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, dashed that fairy tale to bits with her visceral unhappiness, the nasty divorce, Prince Charles' middle aged public infidelity and the inexplicable loss of Diana.

The delicately beautiful Sarah Burton attended to Catherine's train before the pomp and ceremony of the wedding, something a mother or a best friend might have done. A million blogs and news stories were rushed with photos and reviews of the dress, Sarah Burton's dress. Extreme fascinators were dissected along with the appropriateness of the guests ensembles and two kisses on the balcony, not just the obligatory one.

And the same three billion people need this fairy tale to have only happy beginnings and a long happy life.

My friend Janet sent me the trailer to Tom Shadyac's documentary I AM.  Mr. Shadyac as a very successful Hollywood major movies director (Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty) could sit back and make blockbusters as he liked but after a serious bicycle accident he sold his 17,000 sq ft house moving into a trailer park in Malibu and hit the road with a four person crew to look for what was wrong with the world and maybe how to fix it. Looking for windmills of a different color as over and over he discovered that we humans have deep connections, deeply caring about one another and wishing happiness for others.

We, roughly three billion of us, care very much about the fairy tale in process of Prince William and Catherine. Happily ever after would do nicely.

Umm, there is some question about the depth of caring about a few of the fascinators. One could say that we three billion strong hope that those tall beige ones are promptly lost, never to be seen again.
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