Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snipes snippet

Wesley Snipes has been in the news recently because he's going to jail for refusing to pay his taxes. I recently stumbled upon a picture of him wearing a dress shirt with a really interesting and unique collar. I have never seen anything quite like it. 

I have no doubt that the shirt is tailor-made. In my opinion, unless you have particular measurements such that you cannot buy off-the-rack, the only rationale to get a tailor-made shirt is to create something you can't buy in stores; And Snipes' shirt is a perfect example.

I'm all of in favour of personalizing a tailor-made shirt with quirky but subtle details, but I find that men of a certain generation have had a tendency to garnish their shirts with over-the-top details (such as garish racing stripes on the collar). However, what I like about Snipes' collar is that it has a very interesting geometric look to it, yet is not gaudy.

If you like the collar, you'll likely to have see a tailor. My man Marlon Durrant is one such tailor who can definitely pull it off.

-The Scandal

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fashionistus sancti

A few years ago, while searching for Gregorian chants, I chanced upon a very peculiar, but entertaining Gregorian chant that is unlikely to have ever been sung in a church. The song is composed in the typical style of a Gregorian chat (vocal music only, no instruments) but the lyrics are the names of European designer fashion labels. It's quite humorous actually, and a nice melody to boot.

As the grains of sands passed, I eventually lost the song, but recently grew curious and decided to retrieve it from the internet once again. I figured it would be pretty easy to find. It wasn't. I recalled the name of the band was Waldorf, and the song was called "Fashionista".

But after much googling, all I was able to come up with was a techno version of the song, which didn't appeal to me at all. You can get a taste of the techno version:

Finally, after much googling I eventually stumbled upon the version of the song I was searching for. Apparently, the group, which formed in Italy in the 90's, had recorded several versions of the song. You can read more about them here. The version I was looking for was called "fashionistus sakral choir" and I urge you to listen to it. Enjoy!

 Waldorf - Fashionistus Sakral Choir (Int .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

-The Scandal

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Invisible artist

Is fashion art? In brief, I say no. Admittedly, I do not have sufficient --Ok, I don't have ANY-- expertise in art history or philosophy to justify my response. But even if I did, ya probably wouldn't want to read it...

Anyways, in my opinion, one of the primary purposes of art is to provoke thought and to allow us to view the world in a new and different perspective. Fashion on the other hand is influenced by more pragmatic considerations--it is clothing after all, that needs to cover our body. But more than that, I believe that the primary goal of fashion is to achieve a pleasing aesthetic effect, or put simply: to look good.

Needless to say, like any other field of design (e.g. architecture, interior design, etc.) the fashion world certainly has an artistic component to it, but it is not in of itself, art.

There is a spectrum of course where some clothing is so devoid of practical and aesthetic value it is clearly meant to be art. A lot of designers intend their runway shows to be an artistic experience and come up with some pretty whack stuff. I don't think it can taken as anything other than art.


Thom Browne

I would put Lady Gaga's outfits in the same category. That's one of the reasons why I resent Vanity Fair placing her on its Best Dressed list. I don't think her clothing is fashion so much as it is (bad) art.

I recently came across a Chinese artist named Liu Bolin who photographs himself upon having painted his clothing in a chameleon like-manner so that he completely blends in  to his surroundings. Some of the photos are amazing. It looks like there is a ghost in the image. See if you can find Waldo in these images:

And my personal favorite:

Pretty amazing stuff, huh?

I'm not quite sure what this has to do with fashion--it clearly belongs more to the realm of art. However, I wouldn't be surprised if some fashion designer is influenced by this art form and incorporates some of these elements into his or her next collection.

-The Scandal

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The emperor has no (nice) clothes

Nobody really likes being bothered with commercials when watching TV. What's  even more annoying are commercials that attempt to be funny, but aren't. Many commercials fall into that category. One recent exception is Reitman's latest amusing ad campaign. For those of you who don't know, Reitman's is a Canadian chain of retail stores selling affordable women's clothing.

When I searched for the commercials on youtube, I discovered that the campaign isn't new at all, though perhaps some of the ads are. I guess I am just (sadly) watching more TV than I did before.

Anyways, the ads feature two guys who are essentially spoofs of a mosaic of flamboyant, effeminate designers (such as Jean Paul Gauthier, Karl Lagerfeld, etc.). They are not that different than the  hilarious character Mugatu in the movie "Zoolander".

In each commercial, the guys basically compare haute couture fashion with Reitman's clothing. In each case, the model wearing the haute couture clothing lands herself in some dreadful and embarrassing situation as a result of her absurd and impractical outfit. Here is a sample of some of the commercials from the previous campaign:

Anyways, for some reason, the commercial got me thinking: If we think of fashion designers as being professionals and the experts regarding clothing aesthetics, isn't it odd that there is a public conception that haute couture is absurd, impractical, ridiculous, and ultimately ugly? When we look at other highly trained members of society, e.g. scientists, engineers, athletes, etc., we easily recognize their expertise. Why do we (at least some of us)  not do so when it comes to fashion designers?

Unfortunately, I don't have a good answer for this question. My best theory is that many fashion designers want to be seen as avante garde artists. To design something that actually looks nice would be too dull, too gauche and too bourgeois. I think you sometimes see odd-looking models for the same reason.

I should point out that this stereotype isn't universal. That is, though the stereotype undoubtedly exists with a significant portion of the general public, I'm sure those same people would have a favourable opinion of most well known glamorous European labels such as Gucci, LV, Valentino, etc. 

I think this stereotype is unfortunate and turns off a lot of people to the fashion world, especially men. It is for this reason why in part, I usually write up a "worst of" post highlighting the most absurd elements from the runway.

-The Scandal

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Phillip Sparks' Spring/Summer 2011

Mariya and I were invited to Phillip Sparks' headquarters in Toronto at the historical Burroughes building. We enjoyed the show very much and especially  the opportunity to photograph the stationary models ourselves.
The full collection can be viewed at the  Phillip Sparks' blog.
Highlights definitely included the leather shoes.

-The Scandal and Mariya

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Know how to fold 'em

I enjoy reading the  GQ magazine (American edition). In fact, I don't think I've missed an issue for 7 years. I also generally like the fashion/lifestyle tips they give to men: e.g., don't spend more than 1 minute on styling your hair; always  tip the guy handing out towels in the john; never update your Facebook status, etc.

I do however take issue with the advice in the latest October 2010 edition of GQ (Ryan Reynolds on the cover) regarding pocket squares.

The magazine (p.88) explains that the folded square is "the classic, dashing go-to fold of Hollywooders-- and businessmen -- everywhere."

The article goes on to state "Warning! Men who wear a poofy silk pocket square probably also sleep on silk sheets. On a water bed." Ouch!

This annoyed me because I know this is part of a larger GQ jihad against the silk pocket square. I find this advice to be absurd. Go into any men's shop and 90% of the pocket squares will be silk. As with neckties, pocket squares made of other fabrics such as cotton, linen and wool definitely add a nice variation to man's wardrobe but, as with neckties, they are by no means the default.

I know GQ has been championing the Don Draper slim-suit look for the past few years, but that doesn't make it "classic". Sure the picture above shows Sinatra with the classic fold, but a simple Google image search will show that he did not always wear it that way. Same with other Hollywood royalty, past and present;

Bottom line: if you wear an unfolded silk pocket square, you can sleep tight--and not on silk sheets.

-The Scandal

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Top 5 most influential men's fashion designers of the 2000's

Considering that the turn of the decade occurred over six months ago, I guess this post is a bit late (though I suppose I can just as easily entitle it "Top 5 most influential men's designer of the past ten years").  Anyways, the purpose of this post is not to identify the best, most popular or even my own personal favorite men's designers over the past decade. Rather, I intend to outline the men's designers whose innovation has caused the greatest buzz in the fashion world, for better or worse.

5. Raf Simons

As a Belgian, Simons is in impressive company with his fellow compatriots (Dirk Bikkembergs, Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten, and Ann Demeulemeester). Simons is best known for his ultra-modern, angular and highly tailored garments. The cuts  and proportions are interesting and by no means conventional. His influence has grown in recent years (see for example Prada and Calvin Klein collections) and he has been appointed as creative director for the Jil Sander label.

4. Brunello Cucinelli

Though unquestionably the most questionable designer on this list, I think BC deserves to be here. The brand has brought casual, luxury Italian menswear to the fore of all upscale men's boutiques. Items currently in style such as unstructured blazers, elbow patches, suede shoes and zip-up cardigans, all have their provenance, at least in part, in Brunello Cucinelli.

3.  Alber Elbaz of Lanvin

Alber Elbaz is huge and no, I'm not just talking about his rotund physique (zing!).

During the past few years, there has hardly been been a more coveted label than Lanvin. The trademarks of the label are soft, loose-fitting garments with very delicate (and often "wrinkly") fabrics. The colour palette almost always involves creamy pastels. Recent collections of other designers have followed this lead. With Lanvin, there are no bright colours, no bright lines or any hard seams. It's all one luxurious, flowing, creamy vibe. Do you dig?

2. Thom Browne

Love him or loathe him? I think for most people, it's a mixture of both. Coming from the New York scene, Tommy  very quickly catapulted himself as an international  fashion superstar, assisted no doubt by his zany, trippy fashion shows.

His trade-mark schoolboy look-- blazer, ankle high pants (or shorts) and clunky shoes-- has now become iconic, as has his fixation with grey, white, red, white and blue.

1. Hedi Slimane

As previously described here, Slimane was probably the single most influential designer peddling the super slim, rocker look while serving as head creative designer for Dior men's during the better part of 2000's. In so doing, Dior's fashion shows featured a series of male models that looked more like gawky teenage girls with eating disorders.

For whatever reason, this look really took hold in the fashion world especially in the first part of the decade. By nearly single-handedly impacting men's couture by advocating a clear and recognizable fashion silhouette, Hedi Slimane is my choice as the decade's most influential designer.


-The Scandal

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Gant by Michael Bastian, Spring Summer 2011

It is not uncommon for relatively affordable labels to launch a more upscale line in collaboration with a big name fashion designer. For example, Thom Browne collaborates with  preppy Brooks Brothers to produce the Black Fleece collection.

Brooks Brothers Black Fleece, by Thom Browne

 It's not surprising that the equally preppy Gant has recently partnered with Michael Bastian to put out a separate collection.  At first blush, the two may seem like perfect pair due to their shared preppy vision, with Michael Bastian incorporating a more sophisticated flare. However, when I looked at the Michael Bastian Gant collection, it struck me that the label might actually be better complemented  by having a designer that offered more of a contrast to Gant's look. The collaboration would then potentially be more interesting. I'm not advocating that Gant should partner with a Rick Owens type,

Rick Owens Fall/Winter 

but Michael Bastian's collection --nice as it was-- really didn't look all that different than the run-of-the-mill Gant. Heck, it didn't look much different than Polo.

Gant images from GQ.com

-The Scandal

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Michael Bastian, Spring/Summer 2011

I must confess to be being a bit disappointed with MB's latest collection. I thought it too sporty --do American men wear speedos anyways? And it didn't have enough of those fitted preppy suit and tie combos that worked so well in previous seasons. It was a bit too much Abercrombie for my liking, but still worthwhile.

All images GQ.com

-The Scandal