farewell my queen.

Word came down the wire yesterday that Phoebe Philo has left Celine. What astounds me about Philo is her ability to plant an idea into the sub-conscious of culture, her designs don’t just shoot down to fast fashion as hot trends but rather send a ripple that alters the landscape. Take for example the fury slides and heels that Philo showed for Spring 2013, versions of both (seen here and here) are currently being offered at every fast fashion shop out there. Nearly 5 years after their debut. There are countless examples of this, but they go undetected, because Philo has the ability to change the way that women want to dress without them even knowing it. Her influence on her contemporaries as well as those who follow fashion is unparalleled, but the wonder of this is that it all happens with very little fanfare.

Philo single handedly ushered in the “age of minimalism” with her debut collection for Celine, for resort 2010 (which wasn’t even a runway collection). She was the first to expand on ideas over multiple seasons, to bring back designs and re-work them which tapped into the psychology of women everywhere who often buy the same thing repeatedly because it feels good to wear that thing. This translates to day-to-evening wear and capsule or uniform wardrobes, both huge in the post-2008 economic meltdown era. She gave us the arty, high flash in nature, unknown and often model-free ad campaigns (shot by Juergen Teller) which set the new standard for fashion photography. She gave us Birkenstocks and giant floppy shirt cuffs, camel coats with exaggerated, rounded shoulders, fashion vans & stan smiths, monochrome dressing, optic white boots and ballerina heels- trends that don’t just dissolve like cotton candy but seem to last, become part of the collective and fixtures in our closets.

For me, Philo’s tenure at Celine so represents my generation of women, Philo’s generation: Generation X. Women who grew up in the age of art pop and post-punk and third-wave feminism. Women who grew up in an analog world and watched as it went digital. Women that grew up watching films and reading books and magazine articles instead of Youtube videos, Facebook posts and Tweets. Women who frequented art galleries and book stores, women that want a tactile experience. Women who can appreciate technological advances but who know the value of having the space and presence to connect, and to use your imagination. Women who carved out careers and built families. Women who appreciate the freedom of not being observed and value solitude. Philo herself is famously private, rarely giving interviews, and has no online presence. She has a rather British sense of modesty and no bull shit attitude that translates to incredibly intelligent collections.

We are certainly in a new era: globally; politically; economically; and in the fashion world as well. If Philo’s debut with Celine declared the era of minimalism, Alessandro Michele’s debut with Gucci declared the era of maximalism. Certainly Demna Gvasalia and the indie designer movement have shaken the industry, turned it on its head. Instagram is now the top engagement platform for designers. Celine has not had a social media presence or even been offered online until very recently. Philo’s departure on the heels of this seems timely. The last few Celine collections have felt, to me, like a passing of the baton in some way. Little nods to the new guard seemed to say, “go on ahead without me.”

Philo’s departure has been rumored for a while, comments she’s made about wanting to disappear with her family have made people wonder if she might bow out of fashion entirely. She has a history of long absences, but there is already talk of where she may go next (possibly Burberry). For now, all we have are our memories and dreams and of course, the clothes.

 

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iconography.

my best friend in kindergarten was a girl named jennifer and we were inseparable. people were constantly getting us mixed up, on top of our similar late 70’s names we also both had honey blonde hair and dimples. we once had a joint birthday party and even though our birthdays were nearly a month apart, it was held on my birthday (leo trumps cancer on most occasions). i decided that the party should be held in a park on top of a hill, overlooking the santa cruz harbor. in anticipation of this party i had my mother make me a white dress made of shiny faux-satin with bell sleeves and gold trim. my tiny vision was to recreate the bonnie tyler video “holding on for a hero”. i would stand on top of a cliff while the wind blew through my sleeves as i gesticulated all of my prepubescent longing for all of my friends and family. my plans were quickly destroyed when the party was hijacked by jennifer’s mother, who arrived with a birthday cake for jennifer that had an actual barbie doll in the center, with swirling layers of lavender frosting as her skirt. the cake was the hit of the party, not my beautiful sleeves.

from time to time i find myself thinking back on the early music videos that were around in the 80’s, and the impression that they made. images of stevie nicks walking on the beach in a black dress with lace puff sleeves, madonna twirling in flamenco dresses or wiggling in black bullet bustiers and a bolero hat, debbie gibson in a tartan plaid ruffle dress with patterned tights. those images (with a little help from molly ringwald, winona ryder, and the ladies of beverly hills 90210) formed me in many ways, gave me a sense of what style could do to express something.  recently this dress by maryam nassir zadeh had me thinking back on bonnie tyler, on that video that inspired me so. i had to go back and watch it again, and marvel at those completely radical outfits.

 

farewell my queen.

farewell my queen.
today we lost a true bad ass, and patron saint of “fragile but strong” women everywhere: sonia rykiel. to me sonia rykiel was part of a small, elite group of designers who manage to really show themselves without concern for trends, or what the competition is doing, and she managed to do so for nearly 50 years. sonia rykiel’s brilliance was in her ability to fuse light and dark. her signature rainbow stripes were dripping with irony, somehow rainbow sequins became goth. she made fashion accessible because her pieces showed how real she was. her punk spirit and clear voice will be missed. here are a few of her beautiful pieces available now.
  1. wide leg cotton chambray trousers ($160) 
  2. sequin embellished cotton sweatshirt ($397)
  3. vintage red silk harem trousers ($50)
  4. cropped embroidered denim jacket ($1,030)
  5. red lip brooch ($67)
  6. red & black leather clutch ($402)
  7. effing amazing pink plastic & canvas espadrilles with velvet ankle ties (!) ($191)
  8. striped wool & cashmere wide leg pants ($690)
  9. printed wide leg trousers with contrast panel ($397) and matching pajama style blazer ($512)
  10. rainbow sequin long gown ($512)
  11. pretty gold pumps ($360)
  12. ruffled bardot neckline dress ($640)
  13. vintage patent leather loafers ($24)
  14. high waisted jeans ($493)

the end.

tribute.

a large part of bowie’s majesty for me is visual. from day one bowie defied the laws of attraction. he was at once masculine and feminine, and in his most feminine moments he still had swagger. he was such an incredible performer because he was willing to go all the way with his characters, he allowed himself to be pretty and ugly, and he blurred those lines regularly. what he accomplished with a silhouette was phenomenal. from oversized to slim, baggy to form fitting, his suits were always impeccably tailored. he was never afraid of color, and he had an eye for details. the photos above are some of my favorite looks from the thin white duke.

lazarus.

bowie_blackstar_000

today i find myself in a bit of a state of shock. david bowie is gone. i spent this morning wandering around in a sort of daze. and then, i felt the need to get in my car and drive. i picked up my son and my copy of hunky dory and got in the car. when i turned the car on i realized that what i was looking for was right there: the radio station that i had on played a steady stream of bowie songs, one after the other. then the dj came on and said a few words about the man, and i started to cry. it was a funny thing: i felt a sort of relief. i had found the very specific kind of connection that i needed.

i have been thinking lately about the radio. fm radio. am radio too, but especially fm radio. a dying thing. for my grandparents, radio was all that there was. god was in the radio for that generation. for my parents, who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, radio was just as important. to this day my parents still speak with stars in their eyes and giant grins on their faces about radio in the 60’s. they name off the stations and the dj’s, they imitate their voices saying the call letters. they talk about the records that they heard, about what they discovered there. for my generation, the mtv generation, radio was still massive. i have so many memories of listening to the radio in my bedroom, throughout my childhood and adolescence. and i have to admit that i still listen to the radio, despite its corporate-ness. despite the insane amount of crap that gets played over and over. i still listen for those little pearls, those little moments where a song that is buried in my subconscious will jump out and touch some part of me that i had forgotten about. i think about all of this because i think about kids today, about my two year old son, who will likely have no connection to radio. and i wonder. on days like today, where my connection to radio delivered me some kind of comfort, i wonder what will be there for my son.

david bowie is a god-like figure in my life. i grew up with david bowie, but not in the way that people a decade or two older than i did. by the time that i was a teenager bowie was already two thirds into his discography. but as long as i can remember, there was bowie. there was bowie on the radio. i was in my late teens when i really discovered him, when i really delved into his incredible catalog and i didn’t come out for a good decade. i spent hours and hours listening to songs on repeat. i spent months on certain records. i spent entire years on an era. when his “best of bowie” video compilation was released in 2002 i was quite honestly changed. i would watch that collection of videos endlessly. i’d invite friends over and ply them with drinks and say, “you have got to see this.” i’d sit them down and i’d play them the video for ashes to ashes and i’d wait for it, for that moment when they would look back at me with amazement in their eyes and i’d nod back at them and proceed to play them the entire collection until they were sufficiently drunk and mind-blown. i’d pull out my copies of heroes and low, of iggy pop’s the idiot and lust for life. i’d line the record covers up next to each other on the floor. i’d try to explain. i’d try to explain with every ounce of my being how utterly, completely, astoundingly brilliant it all was.

but i digress. i think it’s probably pretty well understood that david bowie was a genius. an incredible musician, singer & lyricist. an unbelievable performer. a fantastic producer. a brilliant painter and artist. a fashion icon. an absolute visionary. a true original. but today as i listened to some disc jockey praise his ability to stay out of the spotlight despite iconic status, and to have a sense of humor about it all, i felt something strange and new to me. i felt very clearly a sort of generational divide. i suppose there are moments in a person’s life where they feel their age, where they see clearly the gap between their experience and the experience of those coming up. this is one of those moments for me.

i was a teenager when kurt cobain died. 15 years old, to be exact. and i can tell you that that was a very tender age to experience such a thing. i remember that day very, very clearly. i remember the dazed, wandering, lost feeling that i had that day. i remember not knowing what to do until i turned on the radio. i remember hearing david fricke and kurt loader talking about it. i remember courtney love’s voice reading his suicide note, shaky and cold like the bottom had dropped out of it. it was the sound of devastation. i remember hearing that the man who found his body called a radio station before calling the police. i remember the camera crews and creepy journalists camped out outside of his house. i remember the first time that i saw the image that someone snapped through the window of kurt cobain’s dead body. i remember flinching when i saw it. i remember wanting to look away. i remember understanding on some level, even then, how strange and invasive it all was. i remember understanding that this was the very thing that kurt cobain did not want. it was the tabloid era. it had only just begun.

david bowie’s first record came out in 1967. he reinvented himself countless times throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s and in the 2000’s he quietly retreated into his own life. he stopped doing press, he stopped touring. he lived in new york with his wife and he continued to make records and art and to act in films, often unannounced and with little or no fanfare. david bowie survived a 50 year career, and he did it with more grace than any person at his level of celebrity has. david bowie was a cultural icon, but he understood the difference between his work and his personal life. like all great storytellers, he knew how to create a character. in this age of reality tv and social media, of paparazzi and snapchat, where every moment is documented and digitized and shared, we’re losing something. we all have something to learn from david bowie, the man. david bowie kept something for himself. it is with heavy heart that i say goodbye today, but i have the vastness of his discography (and his parting gift: the brilliant blackstar) and my own memories and interpretations of his work to keep me company.

iconic: georgia o’keefe.

iconic: georgia o'keefe.
a few years ago i had the great fortune of getting to live just outside of santa fe, new mexico for a few months. during that time i visited the georgia o’keefe museum and her home on a few occasions. i remember what an impression georgia o’keefe the woman made on me. seeing her home, watching short films about her life and seeing so many incredible images of her affected me in a way that her paintings never had. i have a much different view of her art now that i know more about her, and now that i have lived in new mexico. the image of her above is one of my favorites: traipsing along a river in new mexico with her trusty parson’s padre hat on, in a simple shirt dress and flats with camera in hand. i thought i’d point to a few options to re-create this really great look.
  1. o’keefe wore her parson’s padre matador hat often, but they are rare these days. i recently found this incredible matador hat by yves saint laurent circa 1980’s and had to swoon. if $780 is out of your price range, urban outfitters has this felt matador hat on sale for $30.
  2. o’keefe’s simple white shirt dress looks amazing blowing in the breeze. she was always one for a crisp white button down, buttoned all the way up. i love this white shirt dress from one of my favorite labels: baserange ($276 via bona drag). forever 21 also has this simple pleated shirt dress for $27.90.
  3. here is a book called georgia o’keefe and the camera, which tells the story of the many portraits taken of georgia o’keefe by photographers (most notably her husband alfred stieglitz) throughout her life.
  4. it’s hard to say what type of camera o’keefe is using in this photo, but my personal favorite is the leica m. here is one for $6380 via amazon.
  5. o’keefe frequently wore loafers or little ballet flats. i like to think that she’d go for these ones from topshop ($45).

the end.

style icon: jerry hall.

i’ve been really crazy for jerry hall lately. in my 20’s it was all about marianne faithfull, and in my early 30’s bianca jagger was the end all be all, but these days i can’t get enough of jerry. she had this incredibly luminous thing about her that made her the epitome of 75-85 fashion girls: she had a face, hair and silhouette that screamed to be in high gloss, flash lit photos. what i love about her is that she had this fierce confidence and this incredible physicality, she so knew how to use her body to make a picture amazing. i love her collaborations with photographers like helmut newton, and the incredible photos shot by former lover antonio lopez at the beginning of her career. her over the top makeup and high glamour style were amazing.