Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Models: Genetic Lottery Winners

I've always been fascinated with supermodels. Growing up in the 90's, my generation was exposed to the era of the "Supermodel" where out of this world, almost mutant-like women started to dominate ads and magazines. In the early 90's these women became famous for being beautiful and took the world by storm. Eventually the look from 90's evolved into heroin chic (my least fave era) and fashion designers opted to go for the anorexic-just-overdosed-half-alive look.

Lately, I've been asking myself what really defines a model? Does she have to be over 5'9" to make it in the industry and does she have to be super skinny? The answers can be very ambiguous and discussing this topic with a few friends, I've come to the conclusion that everyone has their own perception of what is beautiful. Therefore, I've decided to compile my own short list of models that I've admired over the years. Here goes:

Cindy Crawford

When Cindy came on the scene in the late 80's and was one of the first women to establish herself as a brand, the world couldn't get enough of her, and neither could I. She was smart and sexy. She never dominated the catwalks but was more famous for her naked photos and her signature mole on her upper lip.

Claudia Schiffer

Spitting image of 1950's French movie start Bridget Bardot, Claudia Schiffer started out as a model for Guess clothing company. Discovered in a nightclub in her native Germany, she instantly became a recognizable face during the Supermodel era.

Gisele Bundchen

As an adolescent girl, I remember flipping through the latest issue of Vogue and stumbling upon a Ralph Lauren ad of a new face that I've never seen before -- it was Gisele Bundchen. I instantly became obsessed with her. I thought she was incredible. Her body was voluptuous, her legs seemed to go on forever, and her face was perfectly chiseled. I instantly wanted to be her.

Natalia Vodianova

Lastly, another fascinating model came on the scene a few years ago- Natalia Vodianova. Although she's not as famous as the rest of these models. I found her rags-to-riches story very endearing as well as her doll-like features.

Although some might not agree with my choice of models, I believe that they all have important attributes of what (I think) is beautiful, and that is height, great physical shape, legs, and face. In my opinion, a model has to have a sense of style, but essentially her role is to make clothes look great. And to make clothes look great everyone knows that it must start with a great body.

Models are not supposed to look like the average woman walking down the street. They are paid millions of dollars by virtue of having been blessed with inheriting the creme of the gene pool. These models (at least for me) epitomize what a model is, and should be, because they are far beyond average- they are simply gorgeous human beings.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sole man: Bettanin & Venturi

I know that lust is one of the 7 deadly sins. I also know that women are famously guilty of this sin when it comes to shoes. I have to come clean myself: there is a particular shoe brand that I lust after, Bettanin & Venturi. 

Not surprisingly, the brand comes from a small workshop in Italy. B & V is best known for their very distinctive welt, known as the "Norvegese", which is the cooler-sounding  Italian word for  "Norwegian".

I am guessing that the Norvegese welt is based upon some boot-style associated with Norway.

The appearance of the welt is so striking by virtue of the thick lace stitching and the fact that the sole juts out by at least a half inch. You are absolutely guaranteed to get noticed if you wear these badboys. 

The company does offer other styles of shoes (and welts), but they are primarily known for the Norvegese. 

Some of the styles are more subdued and classic. I like these styles the best, since there is no need to overdo it, given the striking appearance of the welt. 

The craftsmanship on the soles is amazing. That's something you just won't see with "Made in China".

There also a lot shoes dyed with unconventional colours. 

The company  manufactures a lot of custom-made pieces that are so downright tacky and gaudy that even your neighborhood pimp would blush.  

But to me, that is the quintessential nature of  grandiose Italian style, namely, beauty straddling ostentatiousness (just think  Lamborghini). You just have to find the right balance. 

I have seen the shoes for sale in Toronto at V Hazelton (in the Yorkville district). I also routinely see them being sold at Barney's in New York.  According to the company's website , they are available in Montreal at Maison 1455.  They're not cheap--they start at around $1,500 USD.

-The Scandal

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Janet Jackson: Make Me high fashion

I was browsing youtube, as I often do, when I came across Janet Jackson's new video "Make Me".

I was taken aback that whoever designed the costumes seems to have been very influenced by the designers Rick Owens

and Balmain:

Oh yeah, the video also looks a hell of a lot like her "Scream" video she did with Michael R.I.P.

-The Scandal

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Brunello Cucinelli: Luxurious Italian casual

I was at Holt Renfrew (Bloor St, Toronto) last week and they happened to have a special presentation from the Brunello Cucinelli label. A few of the Cucinelli New York people were displaying the brand and taking special orders. It was easy to spot the guys, as they were wearing typical Brunello Cucinelli wear: grey cashmere zip up cardigans, blazers, cotton pants (rolled up at the bottom) and beautiful suede shoes.

Brunello Cucinelli is a luxury Italian brand specializing in casual wear. The image portrayed by the marketing campaigns is Italian aristocracy. I guess BC is what you wear if you're invited to a picnic at a castle in the Italian countryside.

The funny thing about the label (which is also true about other luxury Italian labels such as Isaia) is that while it gives off the impression that it's been around for hundred of years, it isn't actually that old (I think it's about 25 years old).

Not that it makes a lick of a difference. I've been a big fan of the brand ever since it really started to sprout like mushrooms a few years ago in almost every North American upscale men's store. The brand has to be giving similar but more established brands such as Loro Piana a run for their money.

A quick primer about the key features of the men's clothes:

  • First and foremost-- cashmere. This is the true hallmark of the brand, and really all luxury Italian brands. The collections specialize in luxuriously soft cashmere sweaters and jackets.

  • Casual: Though some suits appear to be available, the main focus of the brand is on casual wear such as vests, sweaters, rugby style shirts, blazers with suede elbow patches, etc.

  • Layering: The looks promoted by the company really empathize layering, almost always involving some sort of casual sweater (somewhere underneath).

  • Understated colours: Don't expect too much cobalt blue or leopard prints. Almost all the colors all earthy tones, usually lots of gray.

  • Suede shoes: This a new feature that was introduced to me that day at Holts. I don't think they're available yet in stores in Canada but the brand is now marketing a slew of suede shoes with rubber soles. Some of the shoes are plain desert boots, while others have a brogue pattern. I'm generally not too keen on shoes with rubber soles, but I think I can make an exception for these beauties. I would however be a bit weary about paying too much for a shoe with a rubber sole.

  • Luxurious: Oh, have I mentioned "luxurious" yet? Only about 30 times! All this silky smooth cashmere comes at a hefty price. Cashmere sweaters easily go for over one grand.

-The Scandal

People of Public Transit: Walmart Part II

A few months ago, I posted a profile on the humorous website "People of walmart"
Just in case you thought it was discriminatory laugh at hicks, there is now a sister site: The People of Public Transit http://www.peopleofpublictransit.com

Now you can laugh at funny-looking urban commuters. 

-The Scandal

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Toronto fashion week: Mexican standoff

So I was pretty pumped last week to attend Toronto Fashion Week. In addition to the evenings, I was able to sneak away from work during the day a few times in order to check out the day scene. During my first day there, this guy approaches me, identifies himself as a style blogger and asks to take my picture for his blog, which also apparently features street fashion. Flattered, I graciously comply.

The following afternoon, same thing happens with Blogger no. 2. Oddly enough, as I'm talking to street Blogger no.2, a new blogger, Blogger no.3 also asks to take my picture for another blog.

Now the point recounting these anecdotes of this isn't to communicate how fabulous I am--that will be the subject of 12 separate posts ;-) It just dawned on me that these days you can't throw a stone in this city without shattering the lens of a style blogger. All these bloggers bloggin about about other bloggers. It's a bloody Mexican standoff.

When I originally conceived of this blog, I thought that I too might post street fashions pics. I'm glad I never pursued this angle: I'm not much of photographer, and there's just no need for another blogger like me to post pics.

One final note: while it's flattering to have my pictures taken by style bloggers, I've always ended up regretting the photos. The photographers typically only get one shot, and that's simply not enough shots in order to find a flattering shot for a guy like me. I always end up looking like I fell off the ugly tree (and hit every branch on the way down).

-The Scandal

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Arrest Warrant: Snuggies

The Stylemounties are officially issuing an arrest warrant for any individual in Canada under 55 years old buying, wearing, or possessing a "Snuggie".

There is an obscure provision in the Canadian Criminal Code (under part XXIV, "Offences Against Fashion and Public Morals") prohibiting the wearing of a fleece blanket as a garment.

Snuggies are available in variety of prints and colours:

The only exemption for wearing a Snuggie in the Criminal Code is for those people who never, ever EVER want to appear sexually attractive to their significant other.
-The Scandal

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Review: Canadian men's fashion magazines

As a working professional on Bay St., a lot of my colleagues insist on eating their lunch in their office. Personally, I try to eat outside my office. For one thing, I don't want my office to smell like the food court. Secondly, I think lunchtime provides a good opportunity for a brief mental break.

In the summer, I am especially religious about eating outside while my lunch drips over one of the many men's magazines for sale on the newsstand. I typically read GQ, Esquire and Details. I also used to also read the Men's Vogue during its brief lifetime. If I've managed to polish off those 3 before newer editions come out, I will sometimes pick up Men's Health or the British GQ.

It's a bit of a bummer that in Canada the subscriptions aren't any cheaper than the newsstand prices. In the U.S., the subscriptions are so cheap that they're practically given away.

I used to get a kick out of the Canadian Men's fashion magazine Toro, which was launched in 2003. I was originally introduced to it because it was distributed free of charge in my Globe & Mail subscription. However, as a sign of the times, in 2007, the magazine was converted into a webzine: http://www.toromagazine.com/

The current site does look pretty good, however to be honest, Toro fell off my radar screen once it ceased being published in print. I thought the print edition offered good production value, especially for a Canadian publication.

Recently, the Globe provided me with two free unsolicited men's fashion goodies along with my daily paper: "Sharp" magazine and "Men's Fashion" magazine.

"Sharp" magazine

Sharp is published by a new company called Contempo media. The editor is Michale La Fave, former editor of Driven magazine, a self-styled men's "luxury lifestyle" magazine, though primarily an automotive magazine. There is also a website which appears to have some content:

On its face, Sharp appears to have the typical features of most men's lifestyle/fashion (style, food, drink, film sex, health, etc.). I could quibble a bit over some shortcomings in the layout that give it a bit of an amateur feel:

-A lot of the pictures are way too small (postage stamp size)
-Several pictures are appear to be stock photos
-Some of the layout is quite spartan in design

The edition that I have (not the one shown above) has a nice feature on 6 Canadian men's fashion designers. I also like the fact that the "where to buy" page only lists Canadian stores.
Overall, the publication offers a pretty decent package. The publisher claims it will be published 6 times a year. I look forward to the next edition.

"Men's Fashion" magazine

I'm not sure who was the marketing wiz who came up with the name, but the magazine is surprisingly slick. Perhaps this shouldn't come as a surprise since the publisher is St. Joseph communications, responsible for a bunch of magazines including Toronto Life. Actually, the name of the magazine is a variation of St. Joseph's sister publication "Fashion".

The edition that I have is the inaugural edition (Fall 2009, shown above). The publisher's page seems to suggest that the intention is to publish 10 editions a year.

Men's Fashion also seems to have the typical features of most men's magazines, but the emphasis is definitely on fashion. The layout is really nice and the photospreads are top notch. My only beef with the magazine is that its pretty slim (64 pages). That' ll only last me one or two lunches. Hopefully the magazine will be successful, and therefore a bit thicker for the next issues.

Will these magazines survive? Or will they go the way of Toro and SIR (another Canadian men's magazine that went under this past summer)? There's already a lot of competition out there, and the unfortunate reality is that the print industry is not a growth industry. Let's hope for the best.

-The Scandal

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Worst of New York Spring/Summer 2010

1. Thom Browne (part 1)

Disturbing arithmetic:

1 pair of men's short shorts

+ one lil red riding hood


2. Thom Browne (part 2)

I wonder what was going through the mind of the bank teller who was the victim of this robber with a nylon stocking mask. If she reads this blog, I bet she was thinking "omg! what a terrible outfit!"

Fortunately, Thom Browne has now given us two fantastic looks for smartly dressed bank robbers:

3. Patrick Ervell (part 1)

Q: What do you get when you combine John Lennon, Harry Potter and a brown cardigan?

A: This wierd-ass look

4. Thom Browne (part 3)

Q: What would the offspring of Lil Dot....

...and Dumb Donald (from the "Fat Albert" cartoons) look like?

A: Thom Browne once again answers this question:

5. Phillip Lim

More disturbing arithmetic:

1 UPS uniform

+ Leather


6. Thom Browne (Part 4)

More disturbing arithmetic:

Weird lipstick

+ Wizard costume

+ Kangol


7. Duckie Browne (part 1)

Q: Imagine you're a 4,000 year old Egyptian Mummy and you need some stylish beachwear--what do you wear?

A: You wear this:

8. Patrick Ervell (part 2)

Ever wonder what a tuxedo with a toilet splatter pattern would look like?
Look no further:

9. Thom Browne (part 5)

Who among us can truly say that they have never wondered what Dave Navarro...

...would look like wearing a striped speedo, see-through mesh pants, wool cumberbund and flip flops?

Well, here is the answer to that age-old riddle:

10. Thom Browne (part 6)

Q: What is a man to wear if his date is wearing an "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"?

A: An itsy-bitsy black polka dot suit:

11. Yigal Azrouel

Q: How do you sex-up Barney Rubble?

A: Just add some sexy pajama pants:

12. Duckie Browne (part 2)
2 Essential shoe rules:

-Yellow shoes can only be worn with boxer briefs and a condom hat (pushed in)

Light blue suede shoes can only be worn with a big, manly bow across your crotch:

-The Scandal