As I was belatedly thumbing through the February 2011 issue of Paris Vogue this weekend, I came across two very interesting pieces. The first is an interview with Edmonde Charles-Roux, novelist, biographer, president of France's prestigious Académie Goncourt and former editor of Paris Vogue from 1954 until 1966. The second was a review of the recently published biography of Françoise Giroud (1916-2003), also an author, journalist and editor/co-founder with Hélène Gordon Lazareff of Elle magazine.
So many fashion shows (haute couture shows in particular) are staged to be overly intense or dramatic. Models stomp down the catwalk with blank stares as though they're on automatic pilot and there is rarely any joy or humour communicated in most runway presentations. Perhaps this is why the sight of Jean Paul Gaultier taking a bow bedecked in a fake mohawk with Farida Khelfa on his arm is so utterly beguiling. Mr. Gaulthier is no doubt under the same pressures as other designers yet he seems able to keep his sense of humour through it all. More importantly, while he no doubt takes his craft very seriously, he doesn't seem to take himself all that seriously. C'est parfaitement irrésistible.
Attention all you closet stylists out there! In case you haven't already heard, New York City's temple of luxury Bergdorf Goodman (aka my spiritual home) has a challenge for you. They would like you to try your hand at styling Linda Fargo, their uber-stylish fashion director.
I came across an interesting account of le Grand Divertissement à Versailles, the November 1973 fashion show staged at the Palais de Versailles which pitted French haute couture heavyweights and emerging American design upstarts. The event was staged to help raise funds to restore Versailles but has been remembered more as a PR stunt orchestrated by publicist Eleanor Lambert to showcase then-fledgling American designers and give them European exposure. More than just the obvious pitting of the "new" world against the "old" however, it was the first time that African American models took center stage. This changed the tone of the event considerably and helped transform what might have been just another fashion PR stunt into a historic event.
The custom made Alexander McQueen gown Michelle Obama wore to host the recent state dinner in honour of President Hu Jintao was magnificent. Moreover, she looked magnificent in it. Were she a celebrity or the wife of a captain of industry, this would be the end of the story. Alas, she is not just another famous person and so there is no easy way to say it: This was the wrong dress for an American First Lady to wear to a formal state occasion. On this point, I have to agree with both Vanity Fair's Bob Colacello and designer Oscar de la Renta.
As previously mentioned, I attended the Club e-Luxe Breakfast Seminar in Paris on January 13, 2011. The theme of the seminar was borderless technology and included presentations by both luxury brand executives with experience in implementing digital strategies and representatives of technology giants including Cisco Systems and Microsoft, followed by a panel discussion.
As some of you may remember, I published last October a piece entitled "Please Don't" in which I list some of the unfortunate practices I've witnessed in my dealings with brands, retailers and PR firms. I've decided to publish another list of observations this time with a focus on blogs and blogging. As in my previous piece, I've decided not to name names in the interest of maintaining cordial relations. My hope is that by drawing attention to some of the more unfortunate practices, the individuals concerned will take note.
Fashion is decidedly fashionable these days. In addition to the slew of documentaries, books, designer biopics, museum exhibits, reality TV shows and countless blogs, a sequel to the satyrical movie Zoolander has just been confirmed and the upcoming Muppet Movie will reportedly feature "Miss Piggy" as a plus-size Paris Vogue editor complete with cameos by various industry bigwigs. Whereas once a subject of interest mainly for academics, industry professionals and a few hardcore fashion followers, fashion now seems to have permeated popular culture to become a form of entertainment not unlike professional sports. It makes me wonder whether fashion has not become almost too fashionable for its own good.
The Luxe Chronicles is a collection of interviews, profiles and musings on various aspects of the luxury industry and occasionally, a rant on our celebrity obsessed culture and the dumbing down of our collective sense of style and esthetic.