Friday, September 29, 2006

insouciance & aperitif review zee elle

Commentary on episode 11 (what the elle?) by French models and kih-pr guest fashion critics, Insouciance & Apéritif.
We were très 'appee zees week because zee show waz all about zee models (click here for "runway model theatre").

Zee drama!

Zee beaucoup bitchy!

Zee 'ippy girl allemande: we zink she 'as lost her senses.
We zink she 'as spent too much time in Ibeza --
leestening to Morcheeba
on zee ecstacy.

Zees man, 'ee does not know 'ow to model:
Zees is no way to walk on zee runway.
Why does zee poseur rock star wear zee 'ippy dress?
What eez with zee ugly blue shoes?
Et zee scarf - 'ee does not wear it properly:
zees eez une erreur grave in La France.


Now zees girls: zay know zee modelling:
Ils sont fèroces.

Et la Nazri:
She is too good.
Et we are trés shallow.
We don't zink we like her verry much.


We like zee Clarissa.
She can pout like zee French woman.
She too suffers from zee ennui.

Zee matching wis zee dress and zee model.
Eet is a nice picture non?
Zay are les amis, qui?
Elles son tres sympathique.

Zees, we are not so sure: Mon dieu!!
We must warn zee Marilinda to get away from zee angry poseur rock star.

Mais, zees man: Oo la la!

Le beau Michel:
we would like for him to call us.

C'est une mauvaise idée: Zee running about in zee jardin and on zee avenue:
eez not naturelle for zee model to work en zees conditions.

Nous préférons zee bureau de zee fancy editor
espagnole wis zee beaucoup windows.
but zees strahnge garçon in her closet-- -- zee enfant terrible wiz zee pretty girl hair
zat zay call zee Rucherre.

Le joli Rucherre will also contact zee Insouisance et Apéritif, mais qui?
He and le beau Michel come to Paris
We will have zee soirée with zee champagne in zee chambre.
C'est bonne?

Insouciance & Apéritif say:
nos bons amis,
joli Rucherre & beau Michel:

Thursday, September 28, 2006

bloody elle

(or, as a woman I worked with in London used to say: "bloo-awdy 'ale!")

Let me first say that kora in hell loves the title of this week’s challenge. The only thing better would have been “what the bloody buggery elle is all this then?” But "what the elle" is a little more concise I suppose.

hang on uli #2

(click here for hang on uli #1 - and scroll down)

She did it! Good for our little miami mädchen!

They had to let all four go because they were counting on auffing uli and then she, smart girl: 1. nabbed Nazri, 2. had a house-frau crisis with her first dress, 3. ripped it apart, 4. and in a few hours created the most beautiful hippy dress in the world. Yes, I’d say Uli works well under pressure.

And how cute was uli’s scrunched-up excited face?

That's putting the body into it. And speaking of which, Nazri playing drums was almost as cute as my nephew playing drums:

That is some serious hippy babe cuteness going on there.

I am talking about cavity-inducing ADORABLE, people.
(With effusive thanks to Rich for his inspired posting of this clip because it never fails to make my day and I just had to find a reason to link to it and I am sure I will find more so you should really check out the whole cuteness context for it while you are there because it is hilarious.)

the difference between uli and zulema

(By they way don’t they sound like new brands of alcoholic beverages? “Bartender, give me one uli straight up and a zulema on the rocks.”)

First rule: if you steal someone’s muse you damn well better win with her. Zulema immediately got herself and her “stolen booty” kicked off. Zulema had a bad reputation for the way she treated her models and Uli did not. Zulema humiliated the models with a “walk off.” Zulema had no remorse for what she did and did not have any sympathy for the effect her actions had on the model or on Nick. Uli approached the matter a bit differently.

While I think Michael was really thrown for a loop on this and I feel bad for him, I don’t begrudge Uli too much for what she did. I mean Nazri looks fantastic in everything but you can’t tell me that any other model is more perfect for Uli’s style of dress than Nazri. Michael took the high road, as Tim said, and didn’t flip out. No one ostracized Uli like the group did to Zulema. However, Uli’s choice was one that everyone could understand and she did it in a way that didn’t cause bad feelings.

And the outcome was one of the most winning combinations we’ve seen:


jeffrey & marilinda

Jeffrey‘s success owes a lot to Marilinda who is another of the very best models. And that girl was so was so damn pretty this week I nearly melted. Lordy! It doesn’t matter if you are man, woman, straight, gay – if that photo of her in the "rickshaw" (really?) didn’t send you reeling head-over-heels in love then you are sorely lacking in romantic spirit.

Do they actually have rickshaws in Central Park these days?

I liked Jeffrey's dress -- but how ironic is it that he made a Holly Hobbie dress?!!!!

check out the holly hobbie chronicles:

laura & michael

I was just wondering -- what if Laura and Michael combined their dresses?


Laura’s dress was exquisite. She accomplished the difficult task of topping herself. She made the most beautiful of her dresses with the exception of the fact that the v-neck was far too low. But that dress was exquisite and proof that she creates fashion at the highest level, even if its range is rather narrow. It isn’t like that is unheard of in the world of fashion. (See my earlier post on Laura’s win for a discussion of the importance of Camilla.)


Clarissa is truly beautiful but Michael would have done well to pick Amanda. No one can work something like her. She’s the most chameleon-like of the group: put her into anything and she just inhabits the role and sells it hard.

There was really nothing wrong with that dress. It was lovely although the keyhole was too large. Just like Laura's neckline was too low. What is it with these designers?

Poor Michael seems to have hit a roadblock. He will need to work through this to make it to the next level. No one questions his ability. I think the problem is that he has the least experience of the final four and he probably just needs a little more time – and some good mentoring – to get past whatever it is that is holding him back.

Unlike Kara Janx from last season who was the 4th designer and got auffed, we’ve seen that Michael has the imagination and skill and range to really make it some day as one of America’s top designers. With Kara there was a sense that we had seen what she can do. With Michael one feels that we haven’t seen it all yet and that is what makes him more exciting. (And I don’t think his runway show was very strong, but that doesn’t change my argument.) I think he is just in an earlier stage of his development as a designer and when he hits his stride he could be better than all of the other three designers.

another shark sighting

Frankly, I have to say that my interest in pr has waned: too much vincent sucked the joy out of the show. It wasn't interesting; it was just tiresome.

Then there was a 2-week break during which we were able to see the so-so final collections.

For all the producers manipulations to make the show "interesting" they made the dumbest mistake in television -- screwing up the scheduling.

(click here to see the first shark attack warning- and scroll down)

bloody hell – another kih rant


note: please read "for the record" if you haven't already

The previews show Keith at the reuinion, sweating and seething with rage.

It better be good. I want to see bad mommy put him in his place. By which I mean in the corner on a "time out" until he can behave like a grownup who has learned that sometimes you have to suck it up and live in a world where you are not always allowed to do exactly as you please. boo hoo.

Here’s the thing: there are the iconoclasts who see rules as there for the breaking; and then there are the sociopaths who see rules as there for the breaking. Keith is the latter.

That is to say, he thinks that the rules apply to everyone but him because he is better than everyone else. Some people call that that “narcissistic personality disorder.” (In fact, I would call that narcissistic personality disorder.) Combine that egotism with an inability to control one’s anger and that person becomes dangerous.

Keith just exudes that sense of entitlement that whatever he wants should be his to have. The irony is that, given how special he thinks he is, this attitude is as mainstream all-American as you can get.

He reminds me of a spoiled child who is outraged to discover that the world doesn't always give them whatever they want. It is a hazard of the constant ego-stroking done in the name of “nurturing” that creates brats who approach the world only in terms of what they deserve to get. It fosters all sorts of anti-social behavior from just being an irritating wanker to treating waiters badly to whining about getting an A minus when they deserved an A plus to cheating on tests to pathalogically lying to fraternity hazing (whether they are straight/gay makes little difference: it is all homosocial bonding over violence anyway) to thinking that the Geneva conventions' rules on torture should apply to the rest of the world but not him . . .

. . . oh wait, who was I talking about?

"it was a lulu"

In his podcast this week Tim Gunn said of the reunion: “it was a lulu” which made me feel all warm and fuzzy because I haven’t heard that in ages: that is something my grandma used to say and it was nice to hear someone say it again.

now available:

Insouciance & Apéritif review Episode 11 --

Don't miss Runway Model Theatre
(in French -- with English subtitles)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

fashion history & project runway designers

season 3 | fall 2006 :

laura bennet & malan breton

robert best

angela keslar and others

the runway shows of laura & malan

& early 20th century fashion

Two of the Project Runway designers, Laura Bennett and Malan Breton, have talked about being inspired by fashion icons and images of the early twentieth century.
Specifically, both designers have mentioned Josephine Baker as a fashion icon and Malan described his show as being inspired by the Folies Bergère.

I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at this topic. It is important to note that inspirations for collections are not the same thing as recreating an exact replica (see my earlier post on Jackie O: “stuck in the past”). For this reason my approach to this subject was to look for the ways that the collections “quoted” or alluded to the fashions of the first three decades of the 20th century.

A note on how I’ve organized my material : I have three different layers of information depending on your level of interest:

First, I have created a type of collage that is comprised of fashions that place images from Laura and Malan’s collections side by side with images from the early twentieth century. These are grouped around three interrelated themes: flappers, follies and feathers. This form is a more instinctive and unstructured way of considering the various connections. Click here or just read down to the post that follows this one (below).

Second, I have written a post that has a closer examination of Laura and Malan’s use of a particular fashion item: the harem pant. Click here or read down to the second post that follows this one (below).

Third, if you are interested in getting a more detailed history (e.g., Who created the harem pant? What inspired it? Where does it fit into fashion history?) you can click on links that will take you to more in-depth entries that define and discuss specific terms, topics, and people.

You can click on the above items to read each topic separately. If you wish to read these entries continuously click here to go to the kora in hell | arts section.

Take a look and see what you think. What kinds of connections do you see? What is allusion and what is replication? What's interesting -- or not -- to you? How much does this really have to do with Josephine Baker and/or the Folies Bergere? How do you see them updating fashions that are now nearly a century old?

flappers, follies & feathers 2 : collages

colláges based on the fall '06 runway shows
of laura bennet and malan breton

what is this?
for information click here

Saturday, September 23, 2006

harem pants

In 1909 Paris was gripped with a passion for "orientalism"--a style that was in fashion due in large part to the arrival of the Ballet Russe. In the same year the innovative fashion designer Paul Poiret--who had already produced fashions that evoked Eastern styles of dress--and introduced "harem pants," which became one of his signature pieces.

Above: Paul Poiret, Laura Bennett, Laura Bennet,
and a photograph of Louise Brooks
Below: Paul Poiret, Laura Bennet, Malan Breton,
Malan Breton

Harem pants became a signature style of the modern "new woman" and were worn by Hollywood "flapper" icons such as Louise Brooks (photos above: top row, far right).

This effort to put women into trousers was more successful than "bloomers" (named after the early feminist Amelia Bloomer [below, left]) which were part of the nineteenth century dress reform movement.
Harem pants were less like underwear than bloomers but more like lounge- or leisure-wear than the tailored trousers donned by Katherine Hepburn and other women in the 1930s and 40s.

further information:

Friday, September 22, 2006

flappers, follies & feathers 1 : contexts

early 20th century fashion on today's runway

some history : arts | fashion
These posts are still in need of some tweaking and editing but the basic information is now up. To check these out as separate pages click on the individual topics or just click arts | fashion and read them all at once.

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    josephine baker

    now up:
    • josephine baker (1906 - 1975) : American born; naturalized French citizen: a performer best known for starring roles at the Folies-Bergère and Ziegfeld Follies in the 1920s and 1930s. She performed in floor shows, revues, operettas, and films as a singer as a comedienne, actress, and, especially, as a dancer. She is best known for two of her exotic dances: her "jungle" dance where she wore nothing but a string of bananas around her waist and another where she wore only a skirt of feathers entitled 'La Danse de Sauvage' but was actually the Charleston . . . click here for a longer biographical sketch.
    coming soon:
    • josephine baker & project runway designers

    stuck in the past

    is it impossible to update jackie o?

    While I'm on the topic of updating the look of fashion icons, I want to return to the Iconic Statement challenge.

    It seems like definition of Jackie O's style is limited to a few years of her life. Ironically it is the period when she did not have the"O".

    Even when she was alive she was fixed in the past for the sake of American's nostalgia for "Camelot."

    The challenge in "Iconic Statement" (Episode 5) was for the designers was to "update" the look of a fashion icon and not to make a replica costume.

    But is it possible that the judges may not have been open to the idea of updating this icon? If they can't allow her to move her out of the '60s then how can they request that her look be updated to the present time.

    One complaint the judges had about Robert's suit was that it wasn't tailored enough. They insisted that Jackie O never wore anything that wasn't highly structured.

    Here (right) is a photograph of Jackie O dressed in looser style clothes than the box suit that she made famous in the sixties.

    And, lest we forget, her designer was Oleg Cassini after all. What about a track suit??!!

    Here are two runway approaches that we can compare to Robert's attempt to update the Jackie O look.

    In Fall 2005 Alexander McQueen used Jackie O as his inspiration. The look he created (right) is a costume, right down to the hair and the white gloves. There's no updating it is primarily a recreation of a look. It is an appealing look but this is not especially innovative design work.

    On the other hand, this Chanel 1998 suit ( right) is a much more unstructured version of the structured, boxy, tailoring we associate with the Chanel suit. It isn't specifically addressing the Jackie O look but the endeavor is similar.

    Considered in this light, Robert's updated Jackie O suit doesn't seem so off-base.

    At least it wasn't deserving of the outrage heaped upon him for being so off-base.

    Robert's biggest error was in taking fabric from Vincent (what was he thinking??!!!).

    His first choice of Tiffany blue fabric was lovely and if he'd stuck with this his suit would have looked more youthful and made more of an impression.

    Robert didn't lose this episode but it was the one when the judges really turned against him. This was the episode when Bradley was auffed -- and appropriately so. The poor guy didn't have a clue about Cher and what he made was ridiculous.

    Oh, and -- following up on my repeat offenders post, what did Vincent do for that challenge?

    Update Twiggy.

    Right. That look is spot-on --

    if Twiggy wore halloween-themed apron projects from the country crafty shoppe.

    No wonder he talked about her as if he thought she was dead. She wouldn't have been caught dead in something like that.

    coming soon . . .

    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

    Who was Josephine Baker

    and how and why is she inspiring

    the collections of current runway

    designers (e.g., Laura and Malan)

    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

    repeat offenders

    or, getting the old in and out

    The producers' defense of the episode 10 gimmick is that they didn't know ahead of time that the two returning designers would turn out to be the two most annoying (read Andy's Blog). On the other hand, it is easy to assume that the two returning designers would be those who were most recently kicked out. Presumably they would be the next best designers. Of course they were not the best designers because the producers wanted to keep around the nut cases for "drama."

    Vincent and Angela's return was pointless. Everyone knew that neither one of them would win. It was also annoying. They had already overstayed their welcome. We'd finally gotten rid of them and no one--least of all the viewers--wanted to see them darken the door of Parsons and the Atlas again.

    I don't say this with malice: Angela seems like a fine person who is open minded but sticks to her own fleurchon-festooned jubilee jumbles creative vision. She has been amusing and baffling to viewers but in the end she proved to be a remarkably generous-spirited person. And she lives her life in keeping with values that are very admirable. It is too bad she is lumped together with Vincent who is truly disturbed and evokes in viewers a mix of loathing and pity. (See also "for the record.")

    My point is that by the 10th episode we'd seen what they could do -- they'd had more than their fare share of chances and of lucky breaks.

    Anyway, it seems like in order to be "fair" they set up a criteria that lacked the flexibility they needed to have the episode make any sense at all. And I'm not sure how fair they were either.

    Just for the hell of it, here are a few of the other ways they could have approached this challenge.


    Why not just pick those designers we haven't recently seen?
    The ones who had the least chance to show what they could do?
    The ones who didn't get the benefit of the doubt?

    This also deals with the "Keith Factor" : that is, the three designers who were kicked off before Keith during the period when he was violating the rules.

    (This is particularly an issue for Katy.)


    Look at the two outfits to the right and you tell me which one is insanely hideous?

    Enough said.

    Think of all the trouble wrought by this first of a series of bad decisions.

    What ever happend to the old chestnut "we're concerned about taste level"???


    Malan made the fatal error of not buying enough fabric and his gown was too short.

    His dress was flawed but it was also ambitious, as opposed to a basic sheath with minimal fitting and even that was done badly. It also did not have ridiculous shoulder wings. Nor did it look like a bad prom dress project from the early eighties.

    He also demonstrated that he could work collaboratively and be a team leader: it was not "the biggest nightmare of [his] life".

    He also is a quirky personality who could have provided the show with a great deal of drama and personal interest and hilarity. He's odd but not creepy. Or certifiable.

    Malan is a talented and experienced designer who very conceivably could have made it to the final 3. He didn't but he didn't need to. He landed on the runway at Fashion Week anyway.


    There is also the matter of Katherine. In the episode when she was auffed it came down to a choice between her and Keith. Keith was soon asked to leave for violating the rules.

    As it happens another set of rules that Keith felt did not apply to him were the requirements for the designers that week. Katherine did.

    Her dress was considered too simple.

    I thought it was adorable.

    it was one of my favorite designs of this season in terms of something I would buy for myself to wear. (I want one in every color!).

    She didn't have time to make the hoodie but she showed a "sample" on the dog which was a cute and funny solution to the problem. And it was adorable.

    But there was another dress on the runway that was even simpler and lacked any style whatsoever and a major part of the look was leggings that the designer didn't make. The look was then topped off by a beret and sunglasses that just screamed 1983.

    You could put together a whole group of people who were kicked off when Vincent should have been. That would be a solid group of designers!


    The criteria for who was chosen to return wasn't even consistent. If Angela could get another chance then why not Robert who also worked on a winning team?

    Perhaps Robert wouldn't have won without Kayne but it is also clear that Angela would not have won without the help of Laura and Michael.

    I'd also like to point out that Robert's design for Jackie O -- for which he took so much heat -- is really not so off base as everyone seemed to think.

    Click here for more.


    Alison was the viewers choice for who to bring back. She had the most controversial "auffing." There is little question that she was one of the most talented and promising of all the designers.

    If they wanted to scare the bejesus out of the remaining designers they should have brought back Malan and Alison.

    Perhaps the criteria could have been to bring back the two designers who clearly had the talent and skill to be in the final three but they were cut before they had a chance to really show themselves.

    In both cases they were also cut instead of Vincent and Angela -- choices that were debatable if not completely wrong-headed.


    The problem with these sorts of gimmicks is that they look desperate and run the risk of being a "jumping the shark" moment. This whole season may turn out to be the "jump the shark" year, given that it is when PR moved from being different from other reality shows to being just like them : focused on annoying dysfunctional people bickering and sniping. One might even say that the decision to have someone like Vincent on the show was a shark jump in and of itself.

    One shark jump rule might be that it a reality show has jumped the shark when it reaches down to the ethical dregs and casts a person who is seriously in need of medical attention for psychotic symptoms: e.g., hearing voices, manic activity that includes comments -- or worse -- that are sexually inappropriate, and possessing delusional, exaggerated and paranoidal beliefs that are profoundly and visibly incommesurate with reality.

    Just a thought.