diana vreeland: the vogue years

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there has always been air of dignified mystery around diana vreeland. a certain je ne sais quoi of how she turned a simple society magazine into the raison d’etre of the fashion publishing industry.

well now, thanks to her adoring grandson, alexander vreeland, part of her veil has been lifted through the new book diana vreeland memos: the vogue years. the book – a collection of over 250 personal correspondence pieces – is a fashion-fueled journey of creativity, prescience and an unwavering dedication to originality.

perhaps what is more interesting, is that the memos give detailed insight into how a she managed both creatives and the creative process.  notes to richard avedon, cecil beaton, cristobal balenciaga, coco chanel illustrate the nuance with which she operated, delicately cajoling these luminaries into producing some of their best, most illuminating work.

her notes share hints of that special sauce, that ideal formula, the one all we aspiring editors, wannabe game-changers, and deprived fashion writers crave to hold in our back pockets. she seemed to understand that perfect balance between sass and entitlement, between inspiration and execution, and through it all getting exactly what she wanted.

some may see it as ennobled coffee table book, though those who look more deeply (and you know, don’t mind following in vreeland’s footsteps) will see it is a guide for greatness.

be frisky, be direct, be original. be diana.

 

saint laurent films

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we all knew hedi slimane would rattle the couture-coiffed cage of the yves saint laurent-cum-saint laurent house.

he raised eyebrows, though didn’t disappoint, with his last collection, so it comes as no surprise his debut film for the house marries whimsy with some serious fashion angst.Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 4.52.40 PM

model lida fox lithely moves about a barren warehouse clad in full (well kind of) leather and hedi’s new ballet flats, while an eerily melodic tune adds a graceful underlying narrative.

a very different YSL than we used to know, but with a video like this, it makes it easy to fall in love all over again.

watch it here.

a collection: the kooples do it better than you

Screen shot 2013-03-05 at 12.46.47 PMfashion films tend to be banal and self-important. fifteen seconds in you’re yawning and wondering what you are going to eat for dinner tonight (or if you ‘re really in fashion, you’re wondering what you’ll drink for dinner).

however sometimes,  something original, delightful and sexy comes along and you realize there are some people /brands doing fashion videos right.

and of course, they are french. (rude)

the kooples. they are one of the premiere hipster boutiques to line parisian streets. they are cool personified. chic brought to life. and have every bit of that french je ne sais quoi that you could wish for and more.

and so do their videos.

instead of having moody models prance through well-hedged gardens or overly stylized actresses awkwardly waltz through sound stages, the kooples took reality and showed us it’s sexy side.

four couples. four videos. all different stages of a relationship. all romantic.

and unbelievably well dressed in an array of kooples clothing.

each couple is chicer and more handsome than the next (which begs the question why i have not received my phone call yet. double rude). the videos are brief and beautiful, telling romance’s story through sly giggles, broad smiles and of course a well-coiffed elegance as only the french can do.

emulate, admire, enjoy.

(click image to view videos)

thekopoples

fashion as fine art

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annie leibovitz’s “alice in wonderland” – vogue, 2003

art versus fashion. fashion versus art. a question of the ages. an argument as old as david and goliath.

ok, well not quite, but as art and fashion become increasingly more democratic, the two titans of aesthetic industry seem to be crossing paths more than ever.

while schaparelli might have started the conversation and designers such as hussein chalayan have kept it going, it is not until the past decade – with exhibits such as mcqueen at the met and a louis vuitton/marc jacobs retrospective at les arts decoratifs in paris – that art has truly given fashion a much-deserved spotlight. thus angling the designer’s cultural perception far more toward artiste than garmento.

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irving penn’s “harlequin dress” 1950

however now, a whole new medium comes to light. not from stitches and revolutionary draping, but in the form of the fashion photograph.

case and point? a lecture at this weekend’s annual photo la exhibit in santa monica, lead by vogue’s director of photography, ivan shaw. while 40 galleries from around the country showcased snapshots of time, emotion and experience, a panel of the industry’s foremost imageologists (this may or may not be a made up word) waxed poetic about the changes in fashion photography and the commodification of the editorial image.

according to the panel it is not so much that the fashion photograph of yesteryear didn’t meet the standards – just look at any shot from herb ritts, irving penn or lillian bassman – but rather, it seems as if one day the common man (and by common man i mean the overly wealthy, i-dont-know-where-to-spend-my-money collector) woke up, opened his wife’s vogue (most likely annie leibovitz’s alice in wonderland story – because if you are unmoved by that, you probably don’t have a soul) and decided “hey, this looks neat, i will call it art and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on it.”

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steven meisel’s “a walk in paris”

why this notion took so many years for the collecting community to catch on to and the art world to support is beyond me. annie leibovitz, the proverbial moses of the group, has inconspicuously and quite possibly subconsciously, been shepherding this movement since her days of whoopie in a white tub. she might not have said it out loud, but you knew – this is a statement, this is art.

however, the panel gave a more likely and less romanticized reason as to this newfound art-world acceptance – the fashion photographers of today, are not just one-dimensional camera clickers, but aesthetic wunderkinds with a list of never-ending talents – lagerfled, tom ford, hedi slimane, poster boy geniuses of the slasher (i.e. designer/photographer/direct/writer) generation.

that being said, the rise is still a slow one, and while herb ritts and avedon are finally getting their day at getty, the collecting community has only just began to dip their big toes in the editorial pond. just think for the price of $83,000 you can get your own steven meisel’s “a walk in paris” to hang in the foyer. from what i hear that’s a real steal in the art world…

i want to be a chow

arss-michael-chow-empire-02-hi need to be a chow.

they have single-handedly mastered the art of inconspicuous conspicuous consumption.

since the birth of mr.chow’s in the swanky london district of knightsbridge in 1968, michael chow and his growing clan have seamlessly permeated every aspect of popular culture, collecting restaurants, art and films as one would a set of stamps.

papa chow – the industrious ring leader, rich playground purveyor, preeminent art collector, and interior designer savant.

mama chow – aka eva chun – illustrious counterpart, tiger-mom, cfda designer, and muse to some of the best regarded artists in contemporary culture. she is a well-styled, more ebullient version of morticia adams, nimbly floating from industry to industry brokering some of the biggest cultural introductions of the 21st century.

the kids – a formidable trio of well-coifed elegance. clones of their designer-clad parents with agendas and cultural ambitions as thick as an encyclopedia britannica.  (you’re beginning to see why i belong, yes?)

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the chows have managed to carve out a unique space between notoriety and anonymity – surreptitiously adding their midas touch to many a gala, store, restaurant, and foundation without the added paparazzi flashbulbs.

they walk the streets (and by streets i mean rodeo drive) with us, yet don’t be fooled. their matching emerald gucci suits bely the truth – last night they had dinner with jeffery dietch, a night cap with sean penn and the youngest chow played a cello concerto for andre balzas and hockney. (p.s. totally what my tuesday night looks like too.)

they are luxury personified. elegance in caricature form. and i would fit in divinely.

i recognize i may be a bit late on the whole adoption thing, and marrying for culture/money unfortunately still has a negative tinge in society (sigh), so this is my public plea to the chows – take me in. 

i am fully-house trained, occasionally witty, make a mean pork chop, and play the trombone. granted it is not quite as elegant as the cello, but we all must do with what we’ve got.

look forward to your call.

sincerely,

tj

a collection: the jewish pop art princess

day after day, 2010

sometimes my job makes me want to pull my hair out. and then sometimes i get to do something really cool. like fly to nyc to interview a serious new york artist for a new digital series.

it’s exciting when a germ of an idea undulates through the creative process and eventually morphs into something very real, something you can be proud of.

last week, i did in fact fly to nyc, i did in fact meet a celebrated american artist and i did in fact have the opportunity to sit down with her to talk about art, inspiration and of course the great american songbook (because really what else is there).

meet deborah kass. one part yentil, one part sass pot and two very big parts creativity. she would never call herself famous, but she’s not unfamous either. unconsciously cool perhaps. all one has to do is look at her velvet cloaked smoking slippers to know she’s that hipster, all grown-up. that girl, who doesn’t even realize (or perhaps she does) how subversively ahead of the curve she truly is…and it kills you.

having gabbed on a panel with andy cohen two weeks ago and developed the lauded warhol project two decades ago, kass has deeply sunk her teeth in the pop conscious of art culture.

the jewish jackie series, 1992

and if that isn’t proof enough, some of her work is currently being featured at the met’s exhibit regarding warhol: 60 artists, 50 years. not bad for someone who actually never got to meet the man himself.

however, what’s got halston (aka yours truly) buzzing is deborah’s first-ever retrospective at the warhol museum in pittsburgh set to open this weekend: before and happily ever after.

the exhibition regales audience members with 30 years of history. american broadway lyrics meet bright colors and political undertones with jarring distraction; warhol-type silk screens are reimagined under the iconography of the greatest jewish bubby princess of all times (barb streisand, duh) and the demise of our country’s fate is vocalized through neon swirls and primary color blocked texts.

sitting with deborah was as profound and blunt as most of her work. she is entirely unapologetic about her lack of fashion sense as well as her obsessive love of the celebrities in her work…which in fact are not quite celebrities, but rather her heroes as she calls them. cindy sherman, frank stella, linda nochlin, elizabeth murray. ashamedly i only knew half the names, but seeing her face twist up in happy admiration left me feeling slighted, making a mental to note to learn and find what i’ve been missing.

she mused on nostalgia, emphatically declaring it is one of the most horribly underrated emotions (genius truth), the narrative of optimism that clothed the immigrant class post-wwii (including her own family), and waxed poetic about her favorite television show, glee (what else would you expect).

deborah’s own narrative is loud, tendentious and filled with showtunes. a woman after my own alter ego. she has that innate new york-born-and-bred armor…a seemingly impenetrable toughness. yet, underneath it all, a warm, yet frenetic energy exists. it is that energy that crosses over into her work and makes her art…and her, immediately loveable.  pretty neat for just another friday at the office.

to see more of the interview, tune in to halston’s facebook page monday at 2pm eastern.

a collection: zara goes home

apparently i have been snoozing at the mass-market wheel, because it has just come to my attention that h&m and zara both have home décor lines…and zara’s launched in the us last week.

ever the perpetual decorator, my mind is waltzing and my wallet is cowering.

while h&m offers diverse options with boldly colored velvet pillows meshed with farm-to-table accents in pinky hues and dusty gray linen sheets…it’s zara that takes the proverbial cake…and cake platter.

perfect touches of an english country manor are brought stateside in the form of rich floral table clothes and crystal wine decanters. the lookbook, which is nothing short of a henry james novel (british airs included) begets a time of stymied elegance, when tea was held at 4pm come rain or shine, and hunting was a worthy wednesday-afternoon pastime.

from bedding all the way to furniture, the primly cohesive collection is a jane austen dream in the making. and well, who doesn’t love jane austen, so excuse me while i hit the snooze button a little longer on this décor daydream.

 (images and further information provided by www.zarahome.com)

 

 

 

 

the ugly stepsister: los angeles fashion week

l.a. fashion week logo

last night whilst the rest of the world watched the wwf match between the barack “the comeack kid” obama and mitt “the binder” romney, i found myself begrudgingly submerged in the fledging world of los angeles fashion week.

i never really understood why fashion hasn’t taken off here. we are a desert oasis with tons of space, sunshine and creative fodder to last a life time.

then i went to my first los angeles fashion week event…and there was my answer.

wet seal didn’t only throw up at this place, but had montezuma’s revenge. tweeny, teeny bloggers running around in hyper-sequined dresses mixed with too-tight (and bright) for even-the-kardashians-dresses made for a who’s who and what-the *#@& is-that of what not to wear.

no wonder we are new york fashion week’s ugly stepsister. i, an adoring angeleno and lover of all things style was even forced to dip my head in disappointment for this expression of our industry.  the whole night i ached to pat the proverbial head of la fashion. “nice try darling, but if you really want to up your game, you need to stop endorsing the past-prime girls of toddlers and tiaras.”

the truth is fashion won’t start to take l.a. seriously, until los angeles actually takes fashion seriously. with hollywood around the corner, stylists on the boom, and luxury companies such as rodarte and halston popping up, the bend toward designer fashion is beginning to take shape, but then l.a. fashion week comes along, trouncing about with barely-there dresses, gaudy lipstick and silver-lame leggings and botches everything up.

what our industry needs is a bitch-slap from miranda priestly. the it’s not-blue-it’s-cerulean (duh) kind. one that will force us to glamorously gussie up our currently unpedicured toes and strut the runway like we mean it.

i know we have it in us…we just need a little help.

mister mayor…you’re welcome, and by the way, i’m available.

 

 

these kids dress better than you

it’s monday at 4pm, my brain is already non-functioning (thank you weekend) and then i was introduced to the children with swag tumblr

and there goes the rest of my monday.

there are few things i find more amusing than uncomfortably precious kids donning even more precious style. leather jackets, boiler caps, bow ties, leopard print…on a two-year old…i think yes.

let’s be honest, i see it more as a personal lookbook for my future offspring.

eat your heart out harper beckham.