Saturday, September 15, 2007

tim gunn's guide to style

I had a bad feeling about this show from the promos. Everytime I heard Tim Gunn bellow out-- in that pompous and patronizing tone of voice of his--that we were going to have to follow "My Rules!" my gut response was always: "fuck you." Whenever someone tells me that I am going to have to follow their rules (especially in that pissant manner) I immediately want to break every one of their goddamn rules just on principle.

I never believed the hype about this being all that different from any other fashion makeover show. As it turns out, what makes this one different is that it is twice as long and ten times as dull. They turned a guilty pleasure (basically a Cinderella story that dumps the prince and adds in a shopping spree) into a condescending over-serious lecture on self-improvement full of commonplace "rules" and new age platitudes.

Tim is funny on Project Runway because we just get short doses of his professor-manque posturing and pissy little quips. He becomes tiresome very quickly when you have to put up with him for a longer period of time.

I didn't think it was going to be very good but I also didn't expect it to be this bad. The reviews are uneven. Here are two that best sum up how I feel about it. Even Tom and Lorenzo, tow of Tim Gunn's biggest fans, are not impressed:

Project Rungay's "Oh for God's sake will you people LIGHTEN UP?"
Jesus Christ, was that a makeover show or a hostage situation? Could this show be any more devoid of lightness and humor of any kind? One word kept repeating itself in our heads last night over and over as we watched this thing: dreary.

Troy Patterson's "Fashion Don't" review on
Thus, it was disappointing, when watching this new makeover fantasy, to discover a new superciliousness in his tone and a noxious haughtiness in his demeanor. Downer! And it was off-putting that Guide to Style takes a soporific hour to reform the dress sense of one single lass. Drag!

The underwear drawer humiliation ritual on the most recent episode was truly appalling. It is bad enough when Trini and Suzannah do it (on BBC's What Not to Wear) but they are much more bawdy. Plus they are able to convey--and this is essential--a comfort in and an appreciation of women's bodies. Tim "zaftig debacle" Gunn does not possess these particular gifts. Going through a woman's underwear drawer is the last thing he should be tasked with doing. It was an unmitigated horror for everyone.

It isn't enough just to like clothes. You also have to like bodies. Imperfect bodies. I don't mean this sexually. I don't think Tim has it in him to really "get" the beauty in the ordinary, flawed, messy, lives and bodies of real women. You just can't get away from his standoffishness -- at times it is more like squeamishness -- toward these people and the lives they lead. There's just too much of a disconnect. It is all too forced: nothing in this show really fits.

Monday, September 03, 2007

design star 2 : kim todd will

I thought Will's design was the most professional looking. I would watch a show with him as a host. He is a professional designer who has intereting ideas. He is also very warm and relates well to clients on a level that is not just superficial. As I said last week, I like his low-key manner. It would be nice for HGTV to think people can have a show without seeming like lunatic game show hosts.

There is no way I would watch a show hosted by Todd, unless it was to mock it. His manner is too immature and "dude-ly" to be taken seriously. He's like a cartoon. At least it was cold enough in Indiana so that he kept his shirt on. He really doesn't know anything about design and he doesn't seem interested in knowing anything about it. It is all ignorant showmanship. For his Indiana family : he had lots of carpentry ideas (that didn't pan out) but design-wise he mainly put furniture around the room circle (of course there were a few built-in items like a book shelves and a built-in box). I have to admit that the red and orange paint didn't turn out to be as overwhelming as I thought it would. But who wouldn't know that was a load-bearing beam?? His was the least ambitious and the least of the transformations. Todd just has a very limited range. What would have happened if he had ended up with Bridget? I don't think he could get into the mind-set of a 14 year old girl in a wheel chair. And what was the deal with those black satin pants he was wearing at the judging?

I'd be happy to see a show with Kim. Her space-planning does need help. She needed more furniture in that space. However she also had the most amount of work to do. She had to basically rebuild the space: floors, walls, etc. She didn't just paint but hand stained all of the walls. She created a built-in a bar which transformed the space by providing an additional area for living and conversation and connecting the kitchen to the living room. Plus she decorated the dining area and it wasn't part of the plan. It wasn't my style but it probably wasn't Kim's style either and that is the test of a good designer. It is hard to judge in some ways because Kim also didn't have a lot of choice since she was in such a rural area. However, the furniture layout in the end was a problem. I would have also used rugs and pillows to add more color.

One thing I would have done is create an entry area that had a linoleum floor and had a place to leave dirty shoes and coats. It was obviously a problem that you entered immediately on to the carpet! That said, Kim's was the most rewarding transformation to watch.

Kim is such a natural in front of the camera and she is such an appealing person. It seems like she is the obvious choice. I don't even care what they do for the final competition. I know I don't want to watch a show hosted by Todd. Although it would be awfully fun to mock.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

design star 2: a few more observations

continued from comments on Linda Merrill's :: Surroundings :: Blog:

  1. I get the sense that Robb isn't actually a designer; I think he has worked installing kitchens and baths. I can't imagine he has been in charge because he doesn't seem skilled enough and he doesn't have the personality skills to work with clients.
  2. I did not like Kim's color choices for the room but the Newton's did and they were working in concert with the other team with a palette from the stones. I have more of a problem with her furniture choice. I thought that the table and chairs were not the right scale.
  3. Todd looks at the space in terms of what he would want: he likes to make things that you can play on but that is not always what is in the best interest of the client. With the spinning platform I would end up with bruises and scrapes on my ankles tripping on it on my way to the sliding doors. It doesn't allow for moving the furniture around for conversation, like bringing another chair up. And it forced them to have smaller furniture in a space that would have allowed for a bigger, more comfortable "couch potato" type of sofa.
  4. Will's presentation style was a refreshing change from the HGTV norm. I find that things on HGTV are often a bit too over-the-top peppy. His low-key manner made him seem comfortable in front of the camera. All of the others were bouncing around a bit too much.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

design star melt down

note: these are continued from comments on Linda Merrill's Surrounding's Blog

At this point we watch the show the way you rubberneck a crash on the freeway. We watch to see how they are going to top themselves this week. You think it can't get worse but then it does.

Sparkle Josh is gone. The life has been sucked out of Will, the most professional designer on the show. The atmosphere is ugly and the design challenges are ugly. The judges are drooling over a couple of blowhard jerks and putting the two most talented and professional designers -- Will and Josh -- up on the chopping block. Remember the first episode? I still like the idea of the "Will and Josh / Ebony and Ivory" show.

I think that the judges created a situation that made it impossible for Josh and Will to succeed. The dynamic of the personalities drained the life from Josh and Will. The macho bullying of Todd and Robb was taking its toll. It actually seemed like Josh was relieved to get out of there. I can't blame him. I suspect Will would have been glad to get out of there as well.

The stars of the show are a couple of dickheads that enjoy crowing and bellowing and high-fiving and chest thumping and circle jerking around the set. However, the judges find them charming. WTF? All I can say is, "eewwww." Not. My. Type. They should have gotten rid of Robb the first week -- and Todd soon after. He's better for Mtv Road Rules.

(or over-compensating is just another way of saying how much you care. did I say care? I meant fear. fear and loathing. and sexual panic.)
Todd and Robb are repugnant, especially Robb. (My husband even said that he seems like someone who is abusive.) Todd? He has strong carpentry and art skills but he honestly seems like he might be a bit retarded. He needs to start wearing a helmet and taking his ritalin.

Here's the thing: at a certain age, and with a certain level of aggression, boyish enthusiasm converts into macho thuggery. It's called growing up. Being civilized. Acting a certain way -- off of the rugby playing field -- is just being a lout.

And not for nothing but this all REEKS of homophobia.

Who does HGTV think is watching? I don't want to watch a tv show that shows testosterone-addled morons constanting beating down two more sensitive, talented adult professional men. Who would hire these guys who speak and behave like pre-pubescent boys? Are they seriously going to give Robb his own show? Is the douchebag audience for HGTV that substantial? If Todd wins then they will have picked two designers in a row who go around shirtless. Next season why don't we just call it "Beafcake Design Star"?

Note: David's personality could not be more different from Todd's. He listens. He is warm. He has a rapport with women. He is secure enough who he is that he doesn't need macho posturing. He is an adult.
He is a professional. Although it is more professional to keep one's shirt on.

Here's an idea for a drinking game: every scene when Todd doesn't have his shirt on, take a shot.

For physical comedy obviously we had the moment when that table flipped over on Todd. I was hoping it would hit him in the head. Or the nuts. For sheer irony we had Robb lecturing Christina on what weddings should be like. That was priceless. So what if his [tacky not-to-scale boa-festooned] design won, when it comes to women, that dude is CLUELESS!!!

Linda Merrill's blog has a poll that shows that at this point most people think that nobody should win Design Star. Will is the most talented and professional. But that fact seems to have escaped the notice of all of the judges who are too impressed with the Major Tools. But Will has really been worn down by the ugliness of Todd and Robb. They have been beating up on him from the second episode. Of course once he has escaped the bullies and has his own show I would imagine he's be back to his smiling upbeat self. (With his lovely assistant Sparkle Josh??!! PleasePleasePlease!!!)

One woman is left, god love her. Kim -- the most upbeat woman in the world --is hanging in there. Maybe she can hold on until the end. But I'm not optimistic.I think that Kim could be the one person who could redeem the show. She's the HGTV viewer: the woman who has learned how to be a designer from watching HGTV.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

meanwhile . . .

I'm a bit behind here because it's been an exciting week in the world of letters.

First, Charles Simic was appointed Poet Laureate.

Second, the most delicious full blown batshit crazy scandal hit the world of blogs and you just have to read it to believe it. Only writers can do this kind of stuff to each other--and themselves. When they invite us to the party it is fun to watch the fireworks -- and the bonfire. And this is one stinking pile of vanities that is going up in flames. Read about it here.

And finally I've got some decent research work that is naturally a huge rush job so I won't be able to turn my attention to the really important matters like:
And that isn't even getting into:
  • how fabulous Amuse Biatch posts have been: each more packed with gossip and wit and innuendo than the next . . .
Although at least I was able to talk about Eric3K's new foray into the home improvement market...

before I disappear back into the series of tubes . . .

best ever home improvement posting

This is the story about a man with a dream

and very fetching bright yellow towel.

Here are the best set of instructions for a home improvement project


It provides the usually witty commentary we've all come to know and love from Eric3K:
"Why pay a plumber when you can do a thoroughly unprofessional job yourself?"
plus helpful and hilarious photographs:

don't ask why

This time Eric3K and Other Eric have decided to use their talents for good and not evil: i.e., to explain and illustrate a successful how-to project for upgrading your bathroom.

I don't want to give too much away so I've just cut out some teasers:

Just click on the helping hands.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

design star 1: the design


This is clearly the best space. It is a nice color palette. Simple, streamlined, uncluttered.
The walls are graphically interesting and three dimensional. I really like their attention to lighting (with one caveat discussed below).

It was a difficult task given how many beds they needed to get into that room.

The second room is also fine. I like the medallions on the wall.
The colors are a bit of a mish-mash but given all the problems they had working together (more on that later) it turned out better than I expected. The curtains are a very good idea in terms of privacy and light issues. A lot of the designers had a problem with over-accessorizing.

Both bedrooms have some basic practical problems with proper bedside tables and reading lights. I also would have gotten some low baskets or boxes to slide under the bed for storage of a few small items (slippers, tissue, moisterizer, book, pen, sketchbook, nightlight, sex toys, ha ha, etc.).


First of all, I don't think they did a space plan which was a HUGE MISTAKE.
Is that another eating area at the end of the room? I don't quite understand the layout of the space. It does seem a shame to have used up a cool hanging-out space for dining but I have to admit that it looks nice. I really don't like the lighting fixture.

This is ridiculous. Who is going to use this? It isn't private enough for meditation. It isn't comfortable enough for conversation. And the white covers will get dirty fast. This also falls into the problem of not having a space plan.

My eyes! My eyes! Those pillows are hideous.

The built organic shape is a nice start. But where was it going? Robb was mad at Josh about this but it didn't seem like Robb had any ideas himself. This shows the problem with the group not doing an overall space plan. The space is a yawning empty cavern.

Which leads to the entrance below. The entrance is an entrance. There was nothing more problematic with this space than with any other space on the main floor as it all flowed together into one big confused area.
The problem with this is 1. ugly colors. 2. ugly art. Someone needed to just say that this was going to be too trashy looking. And what they hell is the deal with "The Rats"?? That's just not nice. They are professionals. This looks like some teenager got to turn the unfinished basement into their bedroom.

The bar and stairs: that paint job is awful. Really awful. A real pro would have looked at that wall and known better than to have tried to paint it. Not replacing that hideous light fixture was a major mistake. I don't like the grey and coral palette. Black and red are rather overdone.
What is the problem with these designers and light fixtures? Sparkle and Will were the only ones who paid attention to this. That's very basic. Neerja couldn't find bar stools, didn't replace the light, didn't finish the painting. What was she doing? However, in Neerja's defense: she handled the money and budget and she did that well. We've seen what happens when someone doesn't handle that well.

We now address my two favorite contributions. And by favorite I mean the first items that I would put outside on the curb. First, the skateboard ramp. It appears to be well built. It is finished. However, it is ridiculous. No one else is going to use it. No one else looked at the space and said: "I'm going to make something that only I can use." I can't believe the judges were impressed by this. This is carpentry but how is it interior design? If this is what it takes to impress the judge then half the teenage boys in California can be on Design Star.
I will say this: the hammock is a nice idea in front of all those windows and under the palms but why did he get such a cheap one? He should have gotten a much nicer, more comfortable hammock that is easier to use. And one that is for two. But I suspect this is a dude that hasn't thought much about that sort of thing.

And last of all, and least of all, there is the hanging car door:

The fact that Robb is still on the show and Lisa was kicked off is proof that they just want to keep someone on who will create conflict. Lisa was just too nice.


design star 1: designers


Let me start with the best. I had already decided last week that Josh Johnson was the reason I was going to watch Design Star. My only problem this week is that we didn't get enough of him.

Josh J ("Sparkle" -- fabulous!) and Will are going to be the ones for the win. I'm ready to just call them the winners now. They would make a fabulous show together: ebony and ivory. That is hilarious. And they are both such sweeties! It just shows you how two people with very different sensibilities can work together if they are really good designers and put the project ahead of their own egos.

Josh and Will

I really hope that Design Star focuses attention on these two. They both have very strong (in a good way) personalities. They are both very funny. And they are talented designers. What more can you ask for??

Will Smith
has a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and African American and African Studies from the University of North Carolina. So Will gets a major plus in my book for having a solid well-rounded education from an excellent university. I think we will see this is a big asset for him as a designer.

Josh Johnson Fun Facts: Something you'd never guess about me: I was once a probation officer. Unusual skills: Clogging. Childhood dream: Flying Wonder Woman's invisible jet. That is a wacky combination of skills and interests!

If this doesn't work out Will and Josh can go into business as private detectives since they both have backgrounds in criminal justice. Instead of Starsky and Hutch they'd be Sparkle and Smith!

Josh & Scott
These two are my second choice after JoshJ and Will because of their previous work. They both have experience and interests that I think would be a good focus for HGTV. Josh works on Green Design and I think HGTV should do a show about this. Scott likes California ranch and that's one of my favorite styles.

Josh Foss Fun Fact: Favorite designer: Charles and Ray Eames. "My dad worked for them back in the early 1960s." That's another major plus in my book!

Kim Adrianna Lisa
I need to see what Kim and Adrianna can do but they have the personalities that would be great to host a show. Lisa seemed like she had a good personality for hosting the show. The skunk hair would have to go. (1983 called and wanted it back.) But her work was disappointing. Kim would be great because she represents the HGTV viewer. She is someone who does crafts -- who watches the shows and then does the projects that are shown on the shows. I think it would be really cool if she won because she would be proof of the DIY ethos of the network. Both Kim and Adrianna have the upbeat can-do spirit targetted at women and especially at women of color and women who may just be starting out or who don't have experience.

Neerja and Christina
AKA Miss Migraine and Miss Negativity. These two do not have the personalities to host a show. They are very grating. Neerja did not crack a smile once. She looked so tense I thought she might shatter into pieces. I have to hand it to Adriana for putting up with Christina because she was wearing down my last nerve. Christina keeps talking about her "two little ones" (and that's getting old fast) and her "no no no" attitude sounded like she had been spending a little too much time around toddlers.

todd and robb

click here

major tools

todd & robb

As irritating as Neerja and Christina were, that was nothing compared to Todd and Robb. These two are not designers. Top Design has to stop picking people like this to be on the show. It is what makes the show such an amateur hour. This is what makes the show potentially unwatchable to someone like me. Seriously. Life is too short. I have yet to hear a coherent noise emamate from them. I heard yelling, bullying and sound/words like "whoo" and "cool" and "dude".

Who is the Design Star Major Tool?

(click on images for close up of text)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

my new favorite blog

princess sparkle pony

"I keep track of Condoleezza's hairdo so you don't have to."

It's like Wonkette + Barbie + My Little Pony.

Recent posts include some great material commemorating Tammy Faye including audio from a children's album (of Bible songs and stories) that Tammy and Jim recorded in the 1970s and described in this way:
This fantastic album consists of ten songs sung in a shrieky fake little girl voice and two stories told by Jim 'n' Tammy and all their puppetland friends. The stories are my favorites, because the musical background is so off-the-wall, at points it almost sounds like Captain Beefheart is providing the accompaniment.
The Princess also scores an exclusive interview with one of John McCain's "notoriously gay sweaters":
PSP: Were you the first gay sweater on his staff?
MGS: No, there were others. There was a small coterie of gay outerwear ...
Check out the educational posts on Fashion/Beauty history such as the evolution of Harriet Miers hairdo. (Shear Genius take note.)

Want more? Hilarious photoshopping.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

design star starts tonight

And Linda Merrill at Chameleon Interiors is blogging! So we are going to get some informed commentary. She already has her first post up and it looks like the second season contestants have been given much nicer digs than last year:
Design Star vs Top Design
There were ways that I enjoyed Design Star more than Top Design. While there is no substitute for Todd Oldham (be still my heart), Clive is a fine host, and the judges lacked some of the pretentiousness of the TD judges. (That was what I liked about Todd, is his lack of pretentiousness...but he was the exception to the rule.)

The contestents on Top Design were stronger and more professional and TD had bigger budgets. However, they weren't always more imaginative than Design Star. At least with Design Star the contestants got out of those white boxes!!!

Plus the amateurism of the DS contestants made the show more amusing. Who can forget that woman who seemed like a crazy homeless person who just picked up trash on the street. I still suspect that she just wandered into the set and they let her stay for the first episode.

Note: Linda Merrill's first "sneak peak" post has a good discussion of the problems with the first season of Design Star.

Color Splash
I have to say that the biggest disappointment with Design Star was the show (Color Splash) that they created for the winner, David Bromstad. Even though David was the obvious winner and he was great on the competition show, I thought the show they created for him was unwatchable. Furthermore, I was surprised by how much he annoyed the bejesus out of me on his own show. Everyone -- but especially David -- was insanely peppy and excited about everything. It was ridiculous. There is a difference between being warm and enthusiastic and looking like a friggin' moron.

The work David did on the competition seemed a lot more innovative than what he did on the show. I think on the show he was restrained by having to use products from certain stores.Also his color palettes were rich but not interesting. Sometimes they were just dark. They seemed really traditional, especially after seeing what designers like Matt did with color on Top Design (for example -- my top ten list). The entire show was too too tooo much. It needed to be toned down a notch. Or two. Or ten.

Design Star 2
But now we have the second season:
And oh my. I just gave this a perusal and it looks like it could be fun ... perhaps even hilarious (wait for it ... below).

First of all, they have gone to central casting and found their stereotypical southern belle, aged 30, with a high school education, who has lived out her childhood dream "to marry my Prince Charming and have children."

Ain't she sweet

Judging from her interview we can expect pearls of wisdom to fall from her lips.





kicker ...

I can't believe it's not butter.

I'm speechless.

And I can't wait to watch.

visit the photoshop of horrors

First of all . . .

For those of you who haven't yet seen it, this past week Jezebel has had a fabulous series of posts entitled "Photoshop of Horrors" regarding a recent cover of Redbook magazine featuring Faith Hill. They offered 10K to anyone who could get them a copy of a pre-photoshopped image of the cover. The result created quite a buzz. I've put links to the posts below.

and yet they couldn't do anything about that hideous dress?
  1. Here's Our Winner! 'Redbook' Shatters Our 'Faith' In Well, Not Publishing, But Maybe God
  2. The Annotated Guide To Making Faith Hill 'Hot'
  3. Faith Hill's 'Redbook' Photoshop Chop: Why We're Pissed
  4. The 'Redbook' You Should Have Seen On Newsstands
  5. The Week You Gave Us 'Faith' In The Internets
In contrast to Faith Hill (who is aging beautifully and does not need the distortions of Photoshop) there are the stars who are constantly getting plastic surgery in desperate attempts to look younger. Supposedly they would need less Photoshopping but I suspect that in practice the reverse is true.

JUST ADDED: For a recent discussion of Hollywood stars and plastic surgery check out Ms. Place's new post on her Dishin Dat blog:
If nothing else it will scare you off of getting a chemical peel. Ow! Ow! Ow!

On the other hand . . .
"The Photoshopping experts at have done the opposite of Redbook and given some of today's biggest boldfaced names "normal" makeovers, which, according to the Daily Mail, means they've made to look like your run-of-the-mill, fashion-challenged, badly-coiffed, fat Americans." ( Keira Knightley: Just Like Us? | )
Check it out. The images are hilarious:

Tori and Candy Spelling

And finally . . .

If ever we needed a warning against combining drugs and plastic surgery, Gawker brings us
Courtney Love...

Warning: do not go to this link on a full stomach. My favorite comment:

Wow, has she been working out? Look how defined her arm muscle is...oh, my bad. That's just her skin sliding off. (MISSGOLIGHTLY AT 07/13/07 06:27 PM)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

all tim all the time

updated 07.19.07

Let's talk overexposure.

He's everywhere. Magazines, television, web. He's on red carpets. He's on Oprah. He's on Kathy Griffin introducing Paula Abdul as the greatest woman on the face of fashion. He's selling the book. He's selling the new show. He's selling the new company. He's selling cars. He's selling salad dressing for chrissakes! (WTF?)

Everything he does is breathlessly discussed and repromoted online and in talk show and infotainment interviews.

He has an opinion on everything ... and I mean everything.

(Including a few things he may want to keep to himself ... but whatever. He sounds like an expert and that's what counts... and we're only talking about women's body images here -- so no big deal, right?)

For the Gunnophiles all this is great.

For the rest of us (or maybe it's just me) . . . not so much.

I am actually not all that interested in the new Tim Gunn show. He keeps claiming his show is going to be "different" from other fashion makeover shows but I have yet to see anything that convinces me of that.

I am interested in fashion design. I liked Project Runway because it showed the creative practice of innovative new fashion designers at work. At this point, I think that Project Runway could indeed exist without Tim Gunn. Yeah Tim is great in that role but deep down inside haven't we all heard "make it work" just one too many times?

Wouldn't it be fun to see Laura Bennett's droll eyerolls and wicked "Bad Mommy" comments? And she is someone who actually knows how things work. She is someone who has serious training in the history of design as well as technique. Or what about Uncle Nick?

I'm just saying that Tim Gunn isn't totally irreplaceable. I think Bravo is making a mistake if they think that he is the reason people watch Project Runway. Call me crazy but I think the work of the designers is more interesting than the personality of Gunn or Klum or Kors.

Gunn's priorities are obviously with himself. Fair enough. I just hope that he -- with Bravo's assistance -- doesn't crush Project Runway in pursuit of them.

His makeover show may be a "lead-in" for Project Runway for some people but fashion makeover shows are a completely different genre. And they are really depressing. They ultimately end up being infantilizing and condescending. (With Tim in charge I can't imagine this will improve -- I mean he is the personification of haughty. That's partly what makes him such a hoot.)

I got hooked on watching Project Runway (and Top Design, etc) because it was creative and challenging. If I wanted to I could watch this other kind of programming on E! or Lifetime (celebrity, run-of-the-mill reality, women's daytime programming). I think that by focusing on promoting Tim as a star rather than on the actual creative work done on Project Runway Bravo is risking the very audience it gained from its innovative programming.

On the other hand, Bravo could always go in this direction (click image for link):

two questions about project runway

1. Why was it delayed? Why did they skip a season? Was it because of the Tim Gunn negotiations? Was it because they couldn't find enough good contestants?

2. Inevitably there is some energy lost by the show being off for this long in between seasons. Do you think it will be able to recover or do you think it is not going to be quite the same hit that it was by the end of the third season?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

kiss my capris

deposing the rules of fashion

When Tim Gunn was a guest on the "Oprah" show, he provided six fashion rules for "mature" women (mature = over-40). Older women should never wear:
  1. Pleated pants
  2. Low-rise jeans
  3. Horizontal stripes
  4. Jackets that hit at mid-thigh
  5. Double-breasted blazers
  6. Capri-length pants
I call bullshit.

First of all, since when did being old start at 40? Jeez! This puts some women who are having their first child into the same age category as great grandmothers. This isn't the 1950s. Age groupings for women have changed considerably. Women are very active -- working, athletic, travelling -- well into their seventies today. In some fields women are just getting their careers going in their 40s.

I confess that I have always hated any sort of these lists of rules. Dos and don'ts. Like most of these kinds of dictates I have an innate tendency to see them primarily as there to be broken. They are a mainstay for hack copy in fashion magazines but there is nothing original or fresh about them.

These specific six rules are about what is flattering to body shape as well as what is in fashion at present. Pleated pants and double breasted blazers are not overly youthful. They are just not especially flattering or currently fashionable. Horizontal stripes are widening. Based on the assumption that no woman under age 40 buys clothes from Liz Claiborne, I will use summer fashions from Tim's new employer to demonstrate the problems with these rules.

1. Pleated pants - no one should wear these. Ever.

2. Low-rise jeans : women under 22 shouldn't wear these--and not very many of them can get away with it either. I'm not convinced that they are a particularly attractive look for even the best of figures. It is just a cut that can't quite get away from the idea of "cheap and slutty":

On the other hand, Liz Claiborne is well known for perpetrating the style crime of mom jeans and those are just as bad.

3. Horizontal stripes -- This rule is ridiculous. The principle is one based on body shape not age.
Here is the thing with fashion rules: even the people who make them don't follow them. Tim's very own Oprah makeover selected a dress with a horizontal stripe pattern for a woman who had just given birth to twins:
And a striped top can look fine on a larger body:

Omygod! Is she wearing capri length pants?!

In fact, it would seem that this season's Liz Claiborne plus size collection breaks every one of Tim Gunn's rules.

4. Jackets that hit at mid-thigh : Frankly I don't even understand what this rule is about. The look would depend on the particular outfit and the cut of the jacket:

Here is an example from LC's plus size collection:
This is a fine casual or light exercise outfit but the problem I see with the LC collection is that it is dowdy and it hides women's curves rather than highlights them.

It will be interesting to see how Gunn will approach this area at Liz Claiborne given Tim's well-known "issues" with the bodies of zaftig women (i.e., any woman over a size 4 and/or any woman with fleshy curves).

And that place needs some help. After a while the LC collection started to really depress me. The idea that they wanted women to dress this way. I think they got some of their fabric ideas from somebody's great grandmother's old davenport:

Yes, it's metallic too!

If you must have a rule how about this one: don't wear fabric that might be used to upholster furniture at a funeral home. But I digress . . .

5. Double-breasted blazers: these aren't in fashion now. Just as with pleated pants, the "rules" don't have to do with age. There is nothing overly youthful about a double-breasted blazer, mid-thigh jackets or horizontal stripes. They have to do with style, cut, and shape and what is in fashion.

6. Capri-length pants : This is the one that really gets me. I thought about naming this post: "kiss my capri wearing ass." Sure capris are not the best for short legs. But capris are a fashion staple -- there's no getting away from them either at the gym or in the summer (especially at the beach). Even with short legs capri-length works especially if you are wearing the same color on the top. So shoot me.

Here are LC's cropped pants selections.

I don't care what age you are.
These pants are fugly!

On the other hand, here are Eileen Fisher's:
To die for... and they come in petite.

Eileen Fisher targets the same age group as LC and is similar in price range (slightly higher but not by much). Nonetheless, Eileen Fisher has a much more youthful and fashionable and versatile look.

It is one that is not beset by the kind of mindset that has fashion "rules" about what you can and can't wear at a certain age. In fact the company is based on thinking about women and fashion in a manner that is opposed to these kinds of restrictions.

Frankly, if Tim Gunn really wants to reinvigorate LC he is going to have to change the way that he thinks about fashion... and women.

two posts from 02.05.07:

Friday, July 13, 2007

fashion rules that never change

"Boys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses!"

From Tim Gunn's makeover sessions on Oprah:

What makes this particularly pathetic is that
Liz Claiborne has its own line of eyewear:

Tim Gunn, the great shillmeister, missed a perfect
chance to promote a product from his new employer!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

how many rock stars does it take to change a light bulb?

"Like most Americans I like to help people while being on tv."
- Maria Bamford

Here's the thing about Live Earth:

I just don't need household tips on cutting down on my use of resources from people who live far more lavish lives than I could ever imagine, thank you very much.

Here are a few things that ordinary people who are living within a budget do not need to learn from movie and rock stars:
Turn off the light. Put on a sweater if you are cold. You don't need that. You can use that again. Make it yourself. Give it to someone who needs it. Leave a place as clean as you found it.

Photograph by Russell Lee | Library of Congress : American Memory
Some people do this because they are worried about being able to afford to pay the bills rather than because they want to save the environment.

Hollywood telling ordinary Americans how to conserve resources is outrageous.

Americans telling this to people in Brazil is offensive.

Okay. It's fine if Hollywood and rock stars want to support environmental causes and use their celebrity to draw people to events. This is part of the fundraising world.

However, the various forms of hypocrisy do get a little hard to swallow: did Sheryl Crow sing her SUV-promoting song "Every Day is a Winding Road?" Seriously: when you are making fistfuls of money off of promoting SUVs can you really call yourself an environmentalist?

I know I'm being cynical. And I'm not the target for Live Earth. I was more the Live Aid generation. I do realize that telling people to use energy-saving light bulbs is a way of making people feel like they are helping and that is important. Even more important is spreading awareness of the larger political issues that have to do with oil companies, car companies, governments, the Kyoto accord, the world bank, rain forests, global poverty, etc.

The biggest problem with Americans on an individual level is our use of gas guzzling cars. Changing that has to do with developing and improving mass transportation systems and smaller cars. And then getting Americans to change their habits and start using them. I'm not holding my breath. Maybe this generation will change. It is a little hard to believe they will when the icons that are preaching to them are also flying private jets and promoting SUVs.

We need a government that is far more committed to providing people with what they need in order to conserve whether it be recycling programs or investment in making alternative energy resources not just feasible but cheap. (By the way, do all of the performers at Live Earth -- the people who can afford to do this -- have homes that run on alternative energy?) I don't need tips on how to conserve energy. I know how to do this. Here is what I do need: affordable solar energy. I would like to be able to afford to install solar panels. Ahem, Governor Schwarzenegger (link: why is arnold at live earth?).