The thing about summer is that if you pay attention, you can get a grip on which way the ever winding fashion trail seems to be leading towards fall. We've seen and we've read about the fall collections, we've studied the media loop, and we're still looking for clues. Fashion, with truth in cutting edge, is an increasingly subversive creature and one of the best barometers for on the brink style is the skateboard/snowboard crowd. The first and foremost reason being that most of them are really cute and fun to watch, combined with the fact that skateboarders change uniforms more often than girls change haircolor.
OK, lets pretend just for a minute that the fashion world doesn't revolve around New York (even though we know in our heart of hearts that it does). Snowboard emperor John Gilmore of Boston gave us his brief overview anyway: "Mock yacht and golf looks are the emerging clean and polished reaction to the grunge scene which is very way over. Much of the sportswear scene is stealing from the broadcloth and knit shapes from the 50s', with new twists like tighter fitting tops for guys and the final banishing of pants slung to your crotch-line." We believe however, that hip-huggers in moderation, are still very cool.
Our assessment of the style situation at hand is that with most of cyber-graphics so busy they make yer head spin, the natural evolution is to pare it down...there's just way too much going on in the world at once. Simple Simple Simple is already the next wave in fashion to be followed shortly by graphics, in print and on-line, hopefully long before everyone's heads explode.
Spring bombarded us with ladylike suits and dresses and the fifties tried to come back but just couldn't do it. Why? Because they were one of the most sexist modern decades ever - and women as pretty as pictures in pumps and the "hi honey can I make you a martini while the dog gets your slippers look" doesn't quite work as we approach the next millennium. The only way for to crossover into fall was through a summer metamorphosis. Rebirth as debutante gone mad or sweater-girl with an Afro, to cut some of the syrup, can end up looking kind of twisted and very, very cool. This look can also be achieved by practicing gawky posture that exudes true lack of uptight breeding. Listen to Eartha Kitt do "I Want to be Evil" one afternoon and it will become you.
There's a BIG crossover here in sportswear with very simple, mildly ladylike or mod shapes in neoprene and microfibers that have an edge with a groovy logo patch somewhere to avoid confusion with Chanel. Cyber-pioneers Marithe & Francoise Girbaud are clearly on the forefront of new fabric technology. They brought us stone-washing (1968); now the dynamic duo have developed a new seasonless microfiber (Cosa) that's totally machine washable, refuses to wrinkle and will soon be fuseable via modern applications of heat wave stitching. Phat, non?
GENART had a very groovy summer show marrying art and fashion, rounded up promo maven by James Murray at Jonathan Moore's Soho Coffee Emporium, sponsored by our favorite vodka Absolut. The air-conditioner broke and they still packed the house showing nine young designers, some of whom, including Wonder Bread inspired GiGi Goo, will be showing at the Palladium during Alternative Fashion Week. Without getting teary-eyed, GENART really cares about young designers and artists and we love them and need them a lot.
One hot summer day John Thomas, who manages Gene London's fabulous costume & vintage warehouse The Fan Club (22 W. 19th St), called and said that two guys from Europe saved the day and plunked down close to 10 grand on a bunch of clothes... but wait, according to FI's mug shot file they were none other than Domenico Dolce & Stephano Gabbanna...A key piece in their shopping bag was a very mod dress and jacket ensemble from the '60s, covered in silver beading with bottom rows of big flat silver paillettes...very groovy.
Another European bought a big ol' pile of clothes from TG-170 recently. Owner Terri Gillis offered her usual style savvy help to her visiting customers but couldn't help but notice of how stylish this gentleman and entourage already were. It all made sense as Monsieur Christian Lacroix paid with his American Express card. A petite peu of Ludlow Street in an upcoming collection perhaps? Say tuned for the first ever edition of the TG-170 Newsletter which will include many very interesting never before published columns including local Jim Jarmusch sightings, Mack-Daddy of the month (see glossary) and the monthly complete outfit suggestion.
Summer's a good time to move. Keiko (our favorite bathing suit designer) just moved from West Broadway to 62 Greene St. She has by far the most innovative bathing suits in the American market. Don't worry, we'll take you to her next sample sale before your next vacation. Architectural wizard turned designer Robert Danes also moved far from the maddening crowd to a loft in Soho, where art and fashion meet more regularly. To show work in progress, the Danes' new showroom showcases his clothing elegantly, with patternmaking and sewing out in the open so the visitors can see the process firsthand.
Just to throw everyone off and make us crazy, as soon as you figure out your fall wardrobe its time again for the spring collections, our spies have gone abroad to see if Paris knows anything we don't know first. But wait, New York's own Living Doll Amanda Uprichard already shipped her very groovy stretch prom-frill tuxedo shirts and Jean Paul Gaultier just showed them for spring. I'd say we're better than neck and neck, but then great minds do think alike. Living Doll is having their first big show during Alternative week at the Palladium on opening day (Oct. 25th @ 4:25) and Amanda flew off to Florida in all the excitement to find the right slip on mules.
The big key to dressing this fall (and hopefully for the rest of eternity is to mix it up and be yourself) the race seems to be on to see who can be the biggest individual which evokes very high pressure but reaps very high rewards. Speaking of individuality, people are as sick of supermodels as they are of DKNY's intrusive Manhattan billboards. Holly Brubach's debut edition of Fashions of the Times (August 27) was shot with non-supermodels, as a sign of the times. CK's shows have gone down this road for a while, as have Gaultier and most of the Japanese. Matsuda is currently casting their first women's show (New York Tribeca's ACE Gallery - Oct 29th) and scouring the streets for non-modly models.
In defense of supermodels however, this summer, I worked on a Revlon commercial, set in the "Hamptons" (which was really a house in New Rochelle) and Cindy Crawford was a cool doll! As much as I was dying to find something wrong with her, she was very together, very in charge, and very professional. I was very impressed. Meanwhile, mainstream Europe is completely Claudia crazy. She was all over Paris T.V. last week and on the long flight home, British Airways ran David Frost does Claudia on a maddening loop. We discovered over and over and over the fascinating tidbits and Claudisms that mere mortals apparently can't quite manage to live without. Our only hope is to all join hands at 3 p.m. on a designated Sunday and pray to the media Gods to release us from this torture.
Also headed for a downward spiral in popularity is the saturation of high heeled pumps. Granted, some caveman in Paris decided that they were sexy at one point in time, but for the urban times we live in, you just can't run very fast from a jonsing crackhead in them. Cool sensibility is another offshoot of the omnipresent simple wave. Francis Grill of CLICK models wins our sensible shoe award by spending most of her shoe time in New Balance 998's. There were also many reigning drag queens at Wigstock this year overheard with pump peeves and the more discussions had with truly modern fashionable peers, the conclusion is drawn over and over again that high heels are part of a plot to keep women down and that they should only be worn lying down and never standing up. This brings us to a bit of feminist fashion history. Did you know that Diana Vreeland thought handbags were messy and cumbersome and that men's wallets, neatly tucked away, were the way to go? Ms. Vreeland tried to get them stylistically outlawed but VOGUE let the advertising purse stand in her way.
Those little stuffed animal backpacks are back. They were here, then they went away like they should. Now they're back, and as terrifying as ever. Animal prints of all patterns and textures are getting a long fall run but at this point it's so overdone again, try to say no unless it's a piece or two as the over timer's about to sound.
On the hair and make-up front, Mod is still around (duh). Very Sassoon is the current hair adjective and is living proof that if you do anything long enough it will have a re-run. We called Sassoon Central for guidance and Nick (Berardi; Creative Director) stressed shiny, shiny, shiny, & slick. Nick (rhymes with Mick), sporting a mod shag do with bangs himself, recently took up guitar, but we have no sound bytes as of yet. We have much love for MurrayÍs (superior hair-dressing) Pommade for 2 bucks a can. I have a very short Jean Seberg thing happening and to keep it shiny I found a body lotion with shea butter that smells like vacation in Brazil, by a new rainforest benefactor called Borneo Basics. Not yet in stores, you can pick up a sample next door. green light this season to wear shadows and liners under your eyes - as long as it's smudged or softened. The new BeneTint product for staining lip and cheeks is great stuff! It leaves you looking make-up free, but gives your natural urban tinge a lot more life and rosiness.
Groovy: according to Mr.Webster; superl. grooviest (from old slang in the groove, working effortlessly); very pleasing or attractive, a generalized term of approval
Mack Daddy: a guy that thinks he looks really cool; usage ranging from realistic to insulting in context; as often one who considers himself a Mack-Daddy is actually several beats behind.
Shoe Doo: a benign form of voo-doo at work when you and two or more other people meet up and have on hauntingly similar shoe styles.
© Fashion Icon September 1995
Very Early Debut Issue