Thursday, November 09, 2006

michael's collection

Okay, let me just say from the start: I would not wear these clothes even if I had the life that required a resort component to my wardrobe. I am not a clubber or streetwalker. And I have never used "izzle" as a suffix. All of this means that I am completely unqualified to comment on this collection but that has never stopped me before so why should it stop me now?

the collection
There are two things I notice when I look at the collection together. The first is that it is really very well conceived as a whole. It starts with crisp whites with gold accents --a classic for resort wear -- and if it is white linen it would be a good choice for the safari idea. Then he does something surprising but not too jarring which is to put in a group of jewel tones. These establish the tropical setting. Then we return to the gold and white adding animal prints for his safari theme.

I now understand why Tim always felt that, despite its problems, in the end the collection came together in its way. I think it demonstrates that Michael can put together a complete working collection. In a way it is the most complete wardrobe compared to the others.

It sounds great, doesn't it? The problem is that it It falls apart at the level of taste.

Which brings me to my second observation. The clothes look like they are from the Victoria's Secret catalogue.

Fun fact: the color of the green dress is called "jungle."
Look at all the positions from which they're asserting their empowerment.

This comes from a well-meaning place, I swear. He is young. He will learn. But basically I think the sensibility of the collection is just immature. I know he wanted his collection to reflect an assertion of a strong woman. Isn't that sweet? Problem is, he didn't seem to know what that might look like. He said some stuff about urban safari and asserting herself and searching for herself and being modern and whatever. But he's actually created a look for the woman on the prowl.

It is a common mistake.

first row : #1-4

I don't have anything much to say about this other than to confess that I never buy white pants or skirts because it is a law of nature that within 24 hours I will spill coffee on it. I like the second look above. The other looks might be okay if you got rid of all the sparkles. But some people like that sort of thing. Some people also like to wear sweaters festooned with sequins at the holidays.

second row : #5-8

First of all. That first model is only a size six at most. And she is tall. Six is not a large size. Especially for a tall women. But that dress makes her look like friggin' cow!! The problem is not the model. It is the dress. This is unfortunate because I really like the fabric.

The best look in the collection is this second dress:

I want this dress and the breasts that go with it.

After this the collection starts to plummet. The next two looks introduce the Really Shiny Fabric. The glare affects everything: it is all seen through a sheen of sleaze. The pink outfit looks like the kind of thing that is worn by the drunk girl outside the club after it has closed. The one whose friends left without her while she was making out in the parking lot. By now she has lost the belt and the shorts are stuck to her thong or maybe she's lost that too. Anyway, just compare that outfit to the look Nazri wore for the icon challenge:

Oh, Michael. What happened??!!

We have now reached the point where I have to start talking about Pam-Mutha-Fuckin-Grier, or PMFG. I think it is fair to say that PMFG is one of Michael's main muses.

And for good reason. There are 70s fashion icons that have stood the test of time and Pam Grier is one of them. Cher: of course. Farrah: not so much. Anyhoo, I can understand why Pam Grier would be a fashion icon seeing as she's da bomb and what not. I will discuss this a bit more below but right now I'll just point out that I noticed Michael repeating something I decided to call "the foxy brown neckline":

A fondness for the seventies look has possessed a large portion of the fashion world. I don't really understand why other than the possibility that people just ran out of ideas.

third row : #9-12

There is just no excuse for that first bathing suit. That is a lapse in taste of truly monstrous proportions. The white bathing suit is something Beyoncé might wear --

-- if you added a few rhinestones. But even Beyoncé might find the gold lamé too flashy. Maybe Li'l Kim.

Oh and there are two animal print dresses in this last group and neither of them interest me very much (too shiny, too swinger) even though these are the items that make the statement about this "strong woman" being on a safari. (I'm going to talk more about this whole safari thing after I review about Uli's collection .)

For the record: I count 5 foxy brown necklines in the collection.
Laura had 5 plunging v-necks in her collection. Yet no one noticed that Michael used the same neckline 5 times in his. I'm just saying.

pmfg & hip hop pop stars
A few comments on why this collection may have gotten a little too trashy. Or, I'm entitled to my wrong opinions. Actually isn't really about Michael. It is more about how my mind has wandered into why everyone is so fascinated with the fashions of the seventies and hip hop / pop starlets.

1. I'm not saying anything against PMFG. By all means she should stay as the brightest star in Michael Knight's constellation. I'm just saying that, although Shaft is a rollicking good time, let's not get carried away: it is not the African American Citizen Kane and while there are far too few of them in film, there may be a few African American women who are da bomb who do not come from the films of Quentin Tarrantino / blaxploitation, i.e., it might be possible to be an iconic black woman and not pack heat.

Ya think?

2. What do I know from hip hop. The last time I knew anything it was called rap and it had something to do with fighting the power and not so much with the benjamins. So I'm a total fogey. However, I recently had a revelation when I saw Dave Chappelle's Block Party (a great concert film -- perhaps the best -- don't get me started) but I suspect that when people talk about hip hop that is not what they are referring to -- at least in spirit.

Anyway, regarding this little epiphany. Epiphanette. Really it is just a statement of the obvious but I'm going to point it out because Project Runway does show how the fashion world dresses the Entertainment Tonight / Weekly world of celebrities and pop stars. They may make good mannequins / customers but in terms of being muses for a fashion designer they are just not worth the stretch jersey that is barely covering them. Especially when you compare them to someone like Lauryn Hill. Have you forgotten? She is gorgeous. Gor-geous. And she has . . . what is that thing called? Oh yeah.

A brain.

3. My final observation is more of a 'what if.'

Given that Josephine Baker is a fashion icon associated with the exotic, what if Michael had looked at her for additional inspiration?
For more information on Josephine Baker check out my previous postings:

This might have brought another dimension into the collection, and perhaps pulled Michael away from the sleaze into a more elegant fashion idiom.

I'm talking about her gowns not her banana skirt, of course.

I hate to be a buzzkill but when you look some of the images it does beg the question of how far stereotypes of black women's sexuality progressed from Josephine Baker to Pam Grier.

Monday, November 06, 2006

laura : odds and ends

1. minor matters: I've added the image links and I've corrected the errors in my previous laura posts. I'm sure I've missed some. I find it difficult to edit myself in these little blogspot boxes. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

2. ladies who lounge: I added some images to the first laura post (click here) -- discussing her lounge wear looks. I'm not sure she would approve however.

And finally here are a few more comments that I want to make before moving on -- in order to clarify or correct myself or just because it popped into my head.

3. forgetting the feathers: Well I must have a door in the back of my head because I wrote that I didn't like the feathers thus completely forgetting that I had created an Entire Multi-Genre Section about the feathers with the actual word feathers in the friggin' title! So let me rephrase myself.

If I were to think of the collection strictly in practical terms of fashion (which would be very unimaginative of me) then the feathers on some of the dresses are too theatrical for me. Because, you know, all the other outfits fit perfectly into my west coast lifestyle: it is just the feathers that are holding me back.

Then I remembered --
As an aside, Spanish -- that beautiful, literary, poetic, absurdist and (in this country) terribly malaigned language -- has the most wonderful reflexive construction for the verb to forget: it forgot itself to me. So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
-- that Laura's collection also has another lineage -- one that is theatrical: the jazz age and Josephine Baker. Runway shows are theatrical productions afterall. The evocations of a classic icons of fashion such as the flappers and Josephine Baker also recalls the early twentieth century stage shows, such as those at the Folies Bergere, which would not have been complete without a full festoon of feathers. (Click here to read all of my posts on modernist fashion history.)

4. new age judges It seem strange to me that the judges would consider the flapper look matronly because if there is one thing that the flapper represents it is youth. I simply cannot see how their logic operates: a flapper is matronly but an apron dress is punk and hip? Sure. a flapper style is from the past but so are fashions from the seventies and eighties. Why is a flapper dress more matronly than a bubble skirt?

5. variety show I want to talk a bit about what is meant by "variety." Yes, Laura's looks were all evening wear. But this is said as if this means it is a single look. As if this is a narrow category. Day wear is large. Evening is small. Whenever I see these categories and assumptions I have to push against them. It's in my nature. I'm ornery that way.

Perhaps Laura's collection demonstrated that within the category of evening wear there is a great deal of variety. Laura's runway show included looks from the cocktail party and the supper club and the red carpet and the state dinner and the stage show and the box seat and the intimate dinner and the dance floor and, of course, from the bedroom. In short, she had a look for all of the elegant places of the evening.

I'm not saying that Laura had the most variety. (I haven't finished my reviews so I can't make any general statements yet.) However I am questioning whether she had so much less variety in her collection than someone who had mainly streetwear, a swim suit and one fancy party dress?

The answer to that question depends on how you define variety. The judges defined it very narrowly. Personally I think it is more interesting to challenge status quo definitions -- it opens up new ways of thinking about fashion and design. And isn't that the whole point?