Saturday, August 29, 2015

From The Fashion Library - Gods And Kings The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano

GODS AND KINGS THE RISE AND FALL OF ALEXANDER MCQUEEN AND JOHN GALLIANO is the latest book from Dana Thomas, author of DELUXE: HOW LUXURY LOST ITS LUSTER. It is an in depth look at the lives and work of two of the most gifted and skilled designers London has ever produced. Lee Alexander McQueen was and will always be one of my favorite designers and I often read about his life and work however, this was my first time reading about John Galliano. While his aesthetic doesn't always speak to me personally, I still very much appreciate his art and craftsmanship.

Initially upon hearing about this book, I wondered why Thomas chose to write about these two designers together, but after just reading the introduction, it was very clear. The similarities these two shared were many; supportive mothers, romantic theatricalism, and an undeniable talent. Unfortunately, they also shared a substance abuse problem, destructive behaviors, and sometimes violent tempers. Their timelines mirrored each other so closely that it made me wonder were the similarities, both good and bad, the real recipe for their genius?

In the end, both would succumb to the pressures of commerce and profits. In 2010, McQueen hung himself with a belt in his wardrobe and nearly a year later Galliano had a series of very public drunken episodes in restaurants and cafes. Thomas points out that several other prominent designers have endured nervous breakdowns, drug overdoses, and bouts of depression. The businesses of fashion and the people who run them demand a constant stream of creative production and unfortunately, the artists suffer. When the artist suffers, so does the art.

With GODS AND KINGS, Thomas does an extraordinary job of shedding light on the darker side of the fashion industry, much like she did with DELUXE, and tells the stories of two brilliant artists that is equally beautiful as it is tragic.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

The True Cost

Two thousand and fifteen is proving to be an excellent year for fashionable films. So far there have been stories of haute couture, stylish icons who collect jewelry, and now a film about the clothes we wear and the people who make them. Over the last couple of years, I've read several books about ethical production and sustainability, but none of them have had the visual impact that this does. After watching THE TRUE COST I only had one question. How has something as necessary and beautiful as fashion become so ugly? 

Fashion is a $3 trillion dollar industry with one 1 in every 6 people alive in the world today working in some part of the global fashion game. This makes it the most labor dependent industry on earth. The economic and social importance can not be denied and shouldn't be thought of as trivial. 

Fast Fashion however, is a culture of disposable excess. Companies knowingly distribute poor quality merchandise at low prices in hopes that you will buy more. This type of excess has produced landfills full of non-biodegradable waste, contaminated water supplies, and poor working conditions in developing countries. In 2013, Bangladesh suffered the worst garment factory disaster in history. Unsafe working conditions at Rana Plaza cost over 1,100 people their lives. This is a price that no one can afford to pay. 

Directed by Andrew Morgan and produced by Livia FirthTHE TRUE COST is a powerful documentary that will help everyone understand the perils and realities associated with fast fashion's abuse of cheap labor. The plain truth is fashion isn't always pretty, but we can no longer afford to continue turning a blind eye and absolve ourselves of any responsibility. Become an educated consumer and learn to be more discerning with your purchases. It's okay to care about the people who make your clothes and the impact it has on our environment. This isn't just a film for fashion people, this is a film for anyone who puts on clothes in the morning. This means you. 


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Chanel N°5 In A New Light

Chanel recently held an amazingly fragrant art exhibit in New York City to celebrate the new EAU PREMIÉRE, a modernized version of the classic N°5. Originally created in 1921Chanel N°5 has long been an iconic scent with an instantly recognizable bottle. Housed in a corner space in the Meatpacking District, the exhibition was broken down into five distinctive parts: Creation, Cultivation, Composition, Abstraction, and Revelation. Upon entry, you are greeted with a whispered recording of Coco Chanel. She strongly believed in the scent and in the number five. As fragrance wafted through the air, you were invited to explore with interactive screens covered in digital flower petals and hanging abstract art. 

The tour ended with one long table covered with paper and multiple rubber stamps. We all took our seats enthusiastically to decorate white postcards illustrated with the classic perfume bottle. This was my very favorite part and I could barely contain myself. As I entertained my inner artist, I happily stamped four postcards of which I intend to frame and create my own piece of fashionable art. 

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, some will be shocked to learn that I don't actually wear perfume myself. I have what I would call a sensitive nose and for me, most perfumes are heavy and distracting. I find that throughout the day we encounter so many scents and smells that it all becomes a potpourri of... confusion. Although I don't indulge in the use of fragrance myself, I'm not opposed to it and I found the N°5 quite pleasant. 

Smell is said to be the sense with the strongest link to memories. The nose is apart if the limbic system, an area closely associated with memory in the brain. The reaction is almost instantaneous. When you first smell something new, your brain will associate it with a person, place, or thing and forge a lasting connection. Perhaps Chanel knew this and in creating this perfume endeavored to cement the luxury and liberated spirit of her brand into every woman's mind.