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At New York Fashion Week, a Reflection on American Style

What is “American” fashion? I don’t mean fashion made in America — that much is obvious (though considering most high fashion in America is manufactured in Italy, that’s an interesting point for discussion too). But ideologically, what does it constitute? What makes a collection, or a designer, especially “American?” To a set of jet-lagged eyes, that seemed to be the question that occupied New York designers in their spring/summer 2017 collections.

Maybe it’s because this is an election year, for an election that could redefine perceptions of America, both at home and abroad. Look at how the currently unravelling saga of “Brexit” has transformed and polarized opinion of the United Kingdom. Is it facile to reduce Trump versus Clinton down to fashion? No, especially considering that the much-parodied emblem of the Trump campaign is a baseball cap purporting to help “Make America Great Again;” and that pretty much the entirety of New York’s designer community — Diane von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs, Altuzarra — has banded together to create T-shirts in support of Hillary Clinton. No one’s come out for Trump quite yet — though on Wednesday night, Gucci did launch a range in their Fifth Avenue flagship store, nestled under the Trump Tower. So we got close.

Perhaps that’s what threw New York into an existential crisis: If you’re fighting to help shape America’s future, maybe it prompts you to question what “American” really means — and how it manifests in a few yards of fabric with a four-figure price tag. American fashion is, we’re so often told, commercial. It’s easy. Sportswear. It’s Claire McCardell in the ’40s, with her shirtwaist dresses and flat pumps and stretch jersey swimsuits; it’s the cleanliness of Roy Halston Frowick in the 70s (in work, if not in life); it’s Calvin Klein (although not this season, as the brand dropped off the schedule prior to the first collection by Raf Simons, due next year). It’s probably not Joseph Altuzarra’s sheer stockings and flirty, froufrou skirts, and python-embroidered cherries, with their heavy doses of 1971 Yves Saint Laurent. But that was fun enough.

American fashion is also an Oscar de la Renta ballgown, an Adolfo suit, the anarchic, perennially penniless Stephen Sprouse, the genius of Charles James. American fashion is multifaceted, complex, then and now. What was rewarding, in seeing designers grapple with nailing down its meaning, was their often unexpected conclusions. It wasn’t all jersey. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row, for instance, which showed in the brand’s chic, three-story walk-up on 71st Street, featured Keds (or The Row’s expensive equivalent) and clothes in folk embroideries with chewy texture, or papery cotton like hospital gowns. If I had to cite an influence, I’d say Donna Karan, in theory if not in practice: The Row makes simple but expensive stuff designed to work in tandem with women’s lives.

Talk about dichotomies, how about walking a block to the Frick and seeing Carolina Herrera? A stone’s throw can be a world apart: She opened her collection with a denim ballgown, which sounds like the sort of thing that should be confined to a Ry Cooder-themed episode of “Say Yes to the Dress,” but actually looked great. Herrera also made ballgowns out of checkered fabric like tablecloths, and big fat Yankee bandbox stripes. And brocade, of course. Herrera’s is a distinct subset of American style: It’s the Oscar de la Renta world (which had a weak, rudderless season lead by the design team, but promises better next when Monse’s Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim fill the vacant creative director position). But back to Herrera: Her ballgowns and slender evening dresses fit in perfectly in her spiritual and physical home of the Upper East Side. There were even a few shirts with exaggerated cuffs, the sort of stuff Herrera herself wears all the time, and looks so handsome in. This is American style too — uptown.

I asked Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler if they felt like they were downtown designers, and they pulled a face. But they’re hardly uptown. “Midtown?” suggested McCollough, with a heavy dose of sarcasm. Maybe just New York, which is the territory plenty of designers wish to occupy, but few straddle as effectively as Proenza Schouler. Case in point: They showed their fall/winter 2015 collection in the Marcel Breuer-designed former Whitney Museum of Art on Madison Avenue; fall/winter 2016 was in the new downtown Whitney. And for spring, their clothes mixed uptown and downtown: There was something fundamentally American about a mink coat cut with all the luxury of a bathrobe (a good thing) and with a print T-shirt wrapped around the waist (a better thing). It’s an outfit you felt you’d never seen before, that did something new and different with luxury. It brought that fur down to earth, and made it feel real, which is an idea so many designers are talking about across the world, but one that feels distinctly American.

Hernandez and McCollough are clever designers; they like referencing clever things. American artists are a particular fetish: This collection’s collaged prints of photographs — of McCollough’s clenched fist alongside randomly Googled images of Greek statues (where they are going for a post-fashion week holiday) — reminded me of the work of John Baldessari. So did the brilliant colors, predominantly Yves Klein blue and Warholian Campbell’s Soup red. Proenza Schouler was showing in a gallery again, so maybe those associations are inevitable.

They’re also clever because this collection felt decidedly, desirably commercial. Is that a dirty word? Not in America. The overriding impression of fashion week was how well American designers can do that, without it (necessarily) feeling lame. Lots of it did, of course. But I couldn’t help but be wowed by Ralph Lauren, quietly nailing that See Now, Buy Now thing everyone’s prattling on about. You watched the show, outside his boutique, then streamed in to see the clothes in store. And, perhaps, buy. His collection was Western-inspired, and he’s making out like a bandit. How American is that?Read more at:sexy formal dresses | backless formal dresses

09:34 Publié dans fashion | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)


Creative Couple: Ali and Jake Smyth

It’s 11am on a sunny spring morning, but it’s never too early for Mimosas in the Smyth household. Jake has created a new pink fizz, The Blind Unicorn, for his venues The Unicorn in Paddington and Mary’s in Newtown, and he’s keen to show it off at the kitchen table surrounded by the couple’s two dogs, rabbit, cat and turtle in a tank by the adjacent sunny terrarium. The cork pops and the bubbles and the conversation flow as the unfiltered and uplifting couple talk sex, booze and dreaming big.

“The Blind Unicorn is from West Australia, made by a wine maker there called Ben Gould,” says Jake. “It’s a chenin blanc unfiltered sparkling wine with no preservatives, so it’s better for you; you don’t have a hangover because there’s no shit in it.”

The logo on the bottle was created by Lauren Winzer, a tattoo-artist friend who has inked Miley Cyrus and is a regular at Mary’s and The Unicorn. Jake is covered in tattoos. Ali is wearing yoga pants and a T-shirt after dropping Luna Wolf off to her nanny before starting her working day as founder of the Electric Collective, a PR agency representing clients such as fashion designer Alice McCall; jewellery designer Melissa Harris; and Mary’s and The Unicorn.

“Mary’s was obviously a big part of my life and I wanted to have more of a part in it rather than just drinking there,” says Ali. “But I didn’t get the business just because I was Jake’s wife. I put together a full-on pitch document and had it bound and printed and presented it to all the business owners. I was more scared than I’d ever been.”

Says Jake: “They would have judged you so much harder because they knew that you are my wife and I would not let you get that job unless you deserved it. We’ve got no time for nepotism in our businesses.”

What Jake and Ali do have time for is living life to the fullest. They welcomed Luna Wolf into the world on April 6, 2013, the same day Jake opened Mary’s.

“Well that was a shit fight,” Jake says, laughing. “Everyone was joking, ‘The baby’s going to come on the day you open’ but then she actually did.”

“Not that I was there [at the opening], obviously,” says Ali “but it was actually really cool because we were doing a soft opening with all our family and friends, so suddenly they were all willing us on and there were shots behind the bar and a whole lot of celebrating. It was a beautiful moment in time.”

Although they both juggle demanding jobs with raising Luna Wolf, a scroll throughAli’s Instagram feed reveals trips to San Sebastian and Paris, partying at music festivals, dining at Sydney’s top restaurants and bars and magical twilight shots of the trio at Uluru.

The moment when Ali and Jake first met was almost over before it started; Jake gave her the eye on the tube in London, and Ali replied by turning her back to him. “He was so not what my style was back then: he was wearing a rabbit-fur jacket held together by safety pins and he had so many earrings and two cigarettes behind both ears,” she says. “He gave me his number so I sent him a text message saying, ‘Stop stalking me you freak’ but I thought he was kind of cute.”

The pair went on their first date a week later in London, then became engaged just two months after that. “We fell in love so deeply and so quickly,” says Ali. “We got infinity tattoos instead of engagement rings because that’s all we could afford.”

They returned to Australia in 2007, then married the following year with a big, boozy bash for 100 friends at Jake’s parents’ house at Huskisson, Jervis Bay. “We got too pissed to have sex but everybody else did it for us,” says Jake. “There were eight couples who hooked up on the night. It was a total love in.”

When Luna Wolf came along three years later, Ali’s work took a back seat as she juggled motherhood with supporting Jake’s endeavours to establish Mary’s as the go-to for burgers, beer and bourbon. “Ali is the one who held it all together for the family,” says Jake. “I would come home physically shattered after working seven nights a week and in the beginning we had no money and the stress levels were out of control: my brother had to pay for the parking to get us out of the hospital because we were broke. People ask me why Mary’s is a success and I say it’s because there was no other option.”

These days it’s Jake’s turn to support Ali as she works to build her business. “I’m now trying to juggle my professional life to repay the sacrifice that Ali made for me,” says Jake. “Ali allowed me to follow my dreams without any rules, she just blindly said ‘yes’ to whatever I needed.”

Despite their considerable respective career successes, the achievement the couple is proudest of is Luna Wolf. “She is such a legend,” says Ali. “She lives freely, she laughs openly and she loves animals.”Read more at:celebrity dresses | cheap formal dresses

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Pushing the boundaries of the very idea of what fashion can be, the first featured look of the week isn’t so much an “outfit” as it is a pair of jeans with a hole in the crotch paired with a weirdly short bathrobe. This avant-garde ensemble moves beyond now-familiar athleisure trends (recall last season’s emphasis on exercise attire that you don’t plan to exercise in, worn so that you can buy a gross sandwich at the deli across the street without feeling like the meat guy is judging your life) to pioneer a new, leisure-leisure genre. This look powerfully evokes the experience of checking your e-mail when you’re half dressed, accidentally letting, like, two hours go by, and then quickly tossing on a bathrobe because someone buzzed your apartment, but it was just the U.P.S. guy trying to get in to deliver a package to your neighbor. Expect to see more pilly terrycloth accents and racy cutouts throughout the week!

On the second day of F.W.F.W., we saw a more direct approach, with a look that expands past hobo-chic stylings to scream outright, “I am a hobo!” A pair of Hanes sweatpants (sized for a husky ten-year-old boy), with one leg bunched up from a fitful night of sleep, plays with high-low aesthetics, while a sweater from the needs-to-be-dry-cleaned pile provides a subtly sensual silhouette of linty lumps.

Our third highlighted outfit pivots from previous themes of cozy destitution to introduce a pair of bafflingly large basketball shorts, which left celebs in the front row pondering: Where did these shorts come from? Surely no one would buy them. Did someone leave them in your college dorm during a party? If so, why have you kept them? This mesmerizing mystery garment is then shockingly topped with a crisp, tailored blazer (a cheeky reference to the fact that there are some people who get dressed like human beings every day and go to work instead of sitting at home looking like Adam Sandler after a pickup game).

The runway on day four played host to a display that at once called to mind glam Porky Pig and to a grown woman wearing a silk blouse and no pants. This foray into dry-clean-only attire, fresh from the plastic garment bag—and with the model sporting a static updo to prove it—seems to be the designer’s way of communicating “I had a breakfast meeting at nine-thirty this morning, so I’m not doing shit for the rest of the day.” The blouse creates an illusion of having put in a full day’s worth of effort, even though that meeting was just “a general” and won’t lead to anything. In all, this is a truly moving demonstration of the mix of high art and artifice that is haute couture. Because that’s what fashion is all about: creating the illusion that you are not as garbage as you actually are.Read more at:evening dresses | formal dresses

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