Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Master

Honestly, John Galliano makes me want to just lie down on the floor and cry. He's a genius.

All of these are from his Fall 2007 Collection, the brilliant ready-to-wear interpretation of the Couture collection I went all bonkers for a while back.

There are also some very drool-worthy shoes:

And a some handbags that have me surfing the net trying to find out how much I could get for one of my kidneys:

Go look at all of it. It's amazing.


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Celebrity Dish!

So, here's the inside scoop on what went down with Jennifer Hudson and her dresses.

Not that I feel too terribly bad for her -- she did win a dingdong Oscar Sunday night -- but it is a shame she had to have her big moment in a dress she didn't like. I know that if I'm not comfortable in what I'm wearing, it ruins everything else.

Thanks to k3 for the heads up on this story!

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Nothing New Under the Sun

Take a look at these:

And now this:

(Gwyneth Paltrow in Zac Posen at the 2007 Academy Awards)

Am I the only one who noticed this? Not that I have a problem with it -- hey, if you're gonna steal, steal from the classics. I just thought it was interesting.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Wherein Style Spy Discovers the Magic of High-Definition Television

I'm a bit of a reverse techno-snob. I just can't care all that much about audio-visual equipment. I recently had to buy a new television and I got the cheapest one of the proper size I could find, and I was still resentful because that was money I now wouldn't be able to spend on shoes. But last night I went to my buddy Steve's house to watch the Oscars. Steve, being a boy, has a great big ol' fancy tv. As much as I don't like to encourage size-ism, I couldn't help but be impressed. But the magic really happened when he switched it to a high definition channel.

Holy cow.

The colors were brighter, the detail was amazing... I can't really see the point of watching football on one of these things, but for fashion it was incredible!!!! So I'm re-thinking my whole electronics ethos now.

But enough of that. On with the show.

As usual, I was disappointed that more people didn't take more fashion chances on the red carpet. I know, I know, the stakes are too high, the world is watching and all that, but there is plenty of interesting design out there that isn't so damn boring. So while there were several dresses that made me say, "Oh, that's pretty!" there wasn't really one that made me want to high-five the stylist who talked her witless but willing client into putting it on and rocking Fashion Fearless into the Kodak Theater.

Here are some I found worthy of comment.

Jessica Biel in Oscar de la Renta. Great dress. As we know, I have a thing for hot pink. This girl is lovely, although I really have almost no idea of who she is, and I was grateful to her for not feeling the need to reprise her Golden Globes sequined scuba suit look. This had a long slash opening down the back of the bodice -- it was sexy but not over the top.

Cameron Diaz in Valentino Couture. Nifty dress, like the origami effect of the collar, although I frown in general on asymmetric hems. I was also frowning at the wrinkled state it was already in as she was coming into the event. And I hate that hair. I hate this messy-on-purpose thing. There's a difference between messy and not-overdone.

Here's that same hair, and I still hate it. Rachel Weisz in Vera Wang. This is a little sad because it's so close. Gorgeous girl, gorgeous dress, but that necklace is an amateur mistake and her stylist should be smacked. Why on earth would you feel compelled to put that much bling (an enormous diamond pendant suspended on what looked like piano wire) on a woman wearing a dress that was pre-blinged (pre-blung?)? Earrings at most with that dress, although they'd be hard to find under her I-was-just-running-the-vacuum-and-popped-out-to-pick-up-an-Oscar hairdo.

Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé. So, yeah, this is stunning -- she's flawless, the jewelry is just right, the beadwork is breathtaking and great googly-moogly, it was even better in high-def, but... I'd just hoped for something a little more exciting from Ms. Blanchett, a woman who obviously loves fashion and is not afraid of it.

Here's another woman who loves fashion. I almost always like the way Kirsten Dunst looks, and I did love this. This dress really suits her and it's lovely, from the deconstructed Peter Pan collar that just screams "Chanel!" right down to the feathery bottom that everyone's bitching about. It's youthful yet sophisticated, and Dunst pulls that off extremely well.

This next is all the more upsetting because Djimon Hounsou is such a deliciously handsome man:

NO!!! NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!! Gentlemen! How hard is this? You put on a black tux, a white shirt, and a black tie (preferably bow, although I'll allow a long one if you're respectful otherwise) and you're done! You do not express your "individuality" with chocolate brown tuxedos, or brocade jackets, or jeweled brooches, or culturally inappropriate costuming (that means you, Quincy Jones!) or filmy silk scarves. You just wear a damn tuxedo and thank your lucky stars that it's so easy!


Peter Sarsgaard getting it entirely right. Black tux, peaked lapels (my personal favorite), neat, non-statement-making bow tie, black studs. The jacket also fits him really well, although I would hem up the pants a bit. Your pants should only break once at your shoes, not puddle around them. Maggie Gyllenhaal is also looking great in Proenza Schouler, although I've just never really been able to love navy and black together. (Can I also just say, unrelatedly, that it's kind of cute that two people with a couple of the hardest-to-spell names in Hollywood wound up together. Pity their daughter, though -- she's going to have to spell her name six times a day for the rest of her life.)

Eva Green, doing a Morticia Addams thing in Givenchy. I was actually really intrigued by this dress, although I don't like that dust non-color. But there were interesting details going on at the shoulders and sleeves. There's something about the way it moved around the knees that really bothered me, though, like the corsetry of the dress stopped there and the fabric of the skirt got caught on it and bunched up as she walked.

Faye Dunaway in J. Mendel, doing an homage to Barbra Streisand when she won her Oscar for "Funny Girl" in 1969.

Sometimes it's so bad it's good:

When you are Patricia Field, you can wear your own design and Payless shoes, and you can match your dress to your hair. Because you're Pat Field. And we love you.

Even my girl Rinko Kikuchi, in Chanel as usual, let me down a little. Yeah, it's gorgeous, but she usually likes to take bigger risks than this, for which I admire her intensely. Not so risky, this.

Here's another heartbreaker:

NO!!! NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!! Put on a damn tie, buddy! I don't care if you're the hottest thing to come out of England since those crossed buns, PUT! ON! A! TIE! It's the rassum-frassum Oscars! For goodness sake, you're English, man! I shouldn't have to tell you how to be properly dressed!

Like this:

Leonardo DiCaprio has grown up into a man who knows how to wear a suit. Armani, no less, because then you absolutely can't go wrong. Bravo, Leo.

Oh, bless her heart, she just. Doesn't. Get it. How anyone this beautiful can take a gown custom-made for her by Giorgio Armani and manage to make it look like she got it at David's Bridal, I'll never know. Also, I am tired of the weave. Also of the showgirl postures. Okay, you're bootilicious, we get it. Surprise me, Beyoncé, and just once wear something that doesn't make you look like one of those mirrored female silhouettes we see on tractor-trailer mudflaps.

The Storm of Controversy:

Jennifer Hudson in Oscar de la Renta. I love this girl, I think she's gorgeous and yay for her for winning. There was part of me that really loved this and part of me that went, "Huh?" Then I figured it out -- the jacket's just too short. If it had been about four inches longer, so that the bottom of the jacket had cleared the bottom of her bust and the sleeves, it would have worked. Then it would have been a sassy little jacket with a fun portrait collar. As it stood, it was just a weird neckpiece, basically. I'm also not in love with the Valley Girl hairdo, but let's not quibble.

I did notice that Ms. Hudson changed her dress, not only to sing during the broadcast, but then again to greet the press with her award in hand:

I'm consumed with curiosity about this. Were all these changes planned? I'm not surprised she wore a different dress to sing in (there seemed to be a color-coordinating thing going on for the three women in that number), but what's up with Dress #3 here? Did she change to Dress #3 because it just wouldn't do to go from Dress #2 back into Dress #1 once we'd already seen it? Was Dress #1 kinda sweaty & gross, so she didn't want to get back into it? Or had the scuttlebutt about all the jacket-haters already reached the Hudson Entourage and her merit-badge-worthy stylist busted out that extra gown she had up her sleeve? Inquiring minds want to know.

I just love Kelly Preston for wearing a leopard-print gown to the Oscars. (It's Dolce & Gabbana.) You go, girl! I also love that the jewelry is likely hers -- when you're married to a guy who buys airplanes like some men buy watches, I'm guessing you get the occasional trip to Cartier to pick out a toy or two of your own.

("Look, I have a friend! That means I'm a real human!")

Nicole Kidman in Balenciaga and Naomi Watts in Escada. I discussed Ms. Kidman in my previous post, so we'll let that go except to say I like that dress a bunch, even with the controversial bow, and I love the metallic red accents at the neck. I loved Naomi Watts' dress, it's really beautiful and soft and lovely, which is such a relief after the dozens of vacuum-sealed garments you see at these events. She's evidently pregnant, but this dress would be great on a non-pregnant woman as well. My only quibble is that sash -- it's such a dark blue that it read black to me (even on the high-def!) and it was too harsh. I would love to have seen that in a softer Wedgewood blue. Necklace is glorious, hair is beautiful -- she looks fantastic.

The family Smith -- Will, Jada Pinkett in Vera Wang, and Jaden. First of all, this little boy is so cute I could eat him. Secondly, Will looks great in his tux, perfect down to his white pocket square. No dandyish tendencies here, his Fresh Prince days are well behind him. Thirdly, Jada... I shouldn't really complain, and yet -- I'm going to. She's a very striking woman, but she always looks so hard. She always wears things that are skin-tight, and while if I had a body that fierce I'd probably lean toward that, too, I sure would love to see her loosen up a little. Her hair is always either pin-straight and hanging or slicked back so tight she'll never need an eye lift. With her strong, angular features, I'd really love to see her hair softer & more feminine. She has gorgeous skin and perfect posture, wouldn't she be lovely in something like this:

Jennifer Lopez in Marchesa. This was so pretty. Pale, pale pink with a spectacular jeweled neckline that still manages not to be over the top -- precisely because the rest of the dress is so soft and cloudlike that it nearly melts away. I could even have lived without the earrings, but we all know Jenny from the block likes her bling. I really like this flowing, gentle look. It's utterly feminine and womanly without having to be so body-conscious or overtly sexy. The simple truth is that there's a lot to be said for just being supremely, perfectly pretty.

Oh, there were lots of other nice dresses. Gwyneth's dress was nice and Reese's dress was nice and Emily's dress was nice and Penelope's dress was nice... nice nice nice. Some of them were downright beautiful but I gotta tell ya -- not a single one of them got me excited. This dress is exciting:

(Christian Dior Couture, Spring 2007. Long live Maestro Galliano!)

But no one is ever going to wear it on the red carpet. They'll all be risk-free and tasteful and more than a little dull. More's the pity, if you ask me.


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The Needle and the Damage Done

Run, little one, run!! Before she sucks the youthful essence out of you!!!! She is eyeing your jugular hungrily!! RUUUUUUUUN!!!!

Run, Great One, run!! Before she sucks the youthful essence out of you!!!!! She is plotting how to dispose of your lifeless body even now!!! RUUUUUUUN!!!!!

Seriously -- Nicole Kidman now looks more like her own wax mannequin than herself.

Now that her husband has successfully completed rehab, perhaps she should also think about quitting the Botox cold turkey. There is no life left in this woman's face. She's a terrific actor whose work I've admired for years, but what is she doing to herself? Also -- whose eyebrows did she steal? Her brows shouldn't be that hard to do -- it's not like they're going to move while they're being worked on.

I did like this red Balenciaga dress, despite everyone's complaining about the bow at the neck, which I thought was lovely. But I hate that long, stick-straight hair arranged ever-so-carefully over one shoulder -- it's so mannered and artificial-looking. Kidman is a naturally curly redhead:

(Look! Look how pretty!)

and I don't understand this torturing curly hair into that flat lifeless sheet. (In the interest of full disclosure, I must iterate that I, too, am a Naturally Curly Girl, and it pains me to see my curly sisters deny their identities.) Nor do I understand why someone with her porcelain complexion would rather be a blonde than a redhead. But that's just me. (Who is, yes, a redhead.)

The hair thing, though, is really neither here nor there. What troubles me is this Michael Jackson-like progression toward a mask instead of a face. Last night, Kidman was surrounded by fantastic examples of what it means to grow older realistically yet beautifully (Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton -- all of whom looked like a million bucks, any of whom I'd like to look as good as right now) and I hope she took note of them. A gal could do a lot worse than this:

at any point in her life, famous or no. I totally want to be Helen Mirren when I grow up.

More about the (mostly yawny) fashion at the Oscars tomorrow. Stay tuned -- mud will be flung!


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Do Not Anger the Pantyhose

Great googly-moogly.

For ages I've heard people rave about what great pantyhose Donna Karan makes, but I've never bought any. Last week I was in Nordstrom's, and I went ahead and bought a pair of these:

Donna Karan The Nudes, with a control top and sheer toe. Really good sheer color, nice texture, and lordamercy, the control top!! I've got actual support garments that aren't this fiercely controlling. These are the Karl Rove of pantyhose -- complete and utter lockdown on material, brooking absolutely no deviation on the party line. It's their way or the highway. I actually broke a sweat getting into them -- I had to turn on the ceiling fan. Granted, I've got a lot of extra... er, material to control at present, but these bad boys wrestled my backside into a nice smooth surface. I wore them to dinner with My Girls, and that may not have been the ideal situation for them -- these are more stand-around-and-drink-cocktails-in-a-slinky-dress pantyhose, not stuff-yourself-with-garlic-and-basil-naan pantyhose. When I skipped off to the ladies' room after dinner, I left The Girls with strict instructions to send a search party if I didn't re-emerge after a set period of time.

I think for everyday use I'm going to stick with my tried-and-true Hanes Silk Reflections (in Travel Buff, thank you), but if you're looking for a control top to whip you into shape and show you who's boss, these are the way to go. Use them judiciously!


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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

Treasure -- February 23

I've been shopping quite a bit the last week. Not buying, just shopping, looking around to see if I was missing anything important. But I'm just going through one of those strange moods that I get into sometimes -- just a little bored. Not with shopping, per se (heaven forfend!), but with what's available to me. So, I've just been poking around and not getting all that excited about what's out there.

Until I get to the vintage stores. Austin is an amazing town to shop for vintage. Yesterday I stopped into Amelia's Retro-Vogue & Relics, one of our best vintage boutiques and manned by the lovely Amelia herself, who has a deep and contagious love for all things vintage. Her collection is amazing and her prices are extremely reasonable. And here I found this:

Amazing and very special 1940's dress. The fabric is silk, not rayon, and the pattern and color are unusual for the time period.

Here's a close-up where I've done a bad job of showing you the buttons, which are little self-covered darlings rimmed in tiny blue rhinestones. Oh! The love!

The skirt has a few inverted pleats on the front a few inches below the waist, so it's kicky and flirty and swirly when you walk. Just a gorgeous thing. I'm completely in love. It came with a self-covered belt, but it's a little worse for wear and I've styled it here with a black patent one. (Patent makes everything better.)

But wait -- there's more!

Emerald-green cotton velvet 1950's evening coat. Dear lord, I nearly fainted dead away. Sadly, it's now the last week of February in Austin and it's been 80 for the last two days, which means there will only be 4 or 5 days left in the year when it will be cool enough to wear this, but I don't care. The runway is crawling with fabulous coats & jackets right now:


(Tracy Reese)


(Vera Wang -- she's come a long way from wedding gowns & skating costumes, eh?)

(Above two: Burberry Prorsum. Fantastic collection. I heart Christopher Bailey.)

so it's not like I won't be able to wear it next year. Even if fabulous short jackets weren't in, I'd still wear it. That's the thing I love about vintage clothes. For me, at least, the point of wearing something vintage is that it's beautiful and it looks wonderful. If it's something on trend at the moment, or can be worked in a way that's modern, great. But even if we all start running around looking like robots all the time

(Balenciaga Spring 2006)

there are still going to be days when a flowy, flirty vintage floral shirtwaist dress is going to be the thing that's good for what ails me, fashion-wise. Sometimes things are just so beautiful or wonderful they should be worn, no matter who says they're in or out or who gives you strange looks when you sally into the room wearing them. I pity people who have Fear of Vintage. They will never know that unique and wonderful lift of the heart I had when I found that green velvet coat on a hanger at Amelia's, waiting for me to take it home and give it a new life, to show it off and appreciate it, and love it for making me more beautiful in return.

And remember -- even those gold metal leggings will be vintage someday. Might as well make your peace with it now.

Photos: Style Spy,

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