Monday, April 20, 2009

Expensive Girls in Expensive Clothes

This is a $15,000 outfit:

"What?" you ask. "Why? How on
earth is that $15,000 worth of clothes?" And the answer is, "Because it is Balmain."

Which, if you ask me, is not actually all that good a reason. Those silly, acid-washed, ripped-up jeans? Cost over $2000 on Net-A-Porter, and they are All The Rage.

What Rachel Zoe hath wrought.

As is that pagoda-shouldered jacket that Poshie is wearing here. This thing is catnip for the Fashionistas -- apparently you are no longer allowed to work for Vogue unless you're sporting one:

Anya Ziourova, stylist & fashion director at Chinese Vogue

Barbara Martelo, stylist at Spanish Vogue

(What has she got in that pocket???)

Martelo again, in the denim "marching band" version. Christophe Decarnin, who designs Balmain, started doing this jacket last season and has pulled it into his most recent runway show as well.

Anna della Russo, fashion director at Japanese Vogue

Emmanuelle Alt, fashion director at Paris Vogue

D'ya reckon they got a discount for buying in bulk? Although perhaps these women didn't pay for these jackets. When you're a fashion director at Vogue I'm guessing the schwag is pretty darned good. I don't know who Balmain's marketing director is, but she/he sure is earning her daily bread. Balmain's short (short!), shiny (shiny!) dresses have been all over various red carpets and at Important Events, worn by very good-looking women with lots & lots of money.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Socialite Lauren Santo Domingo, she of the custom-designed Olivier Theyskens wedding dress

Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, daughter of Carine Roitfeld of French Vogue

Oh my god, I hate that hair. Someone hand Strapless Snow White here a scrunchie, s'il vous plait.

There was a party. In Moscow. Wackiness ensued.

Jennifer Connelly, praying no one asks her to sit down.

Some random Victoria's Secret model whose name I can't be bothered to double-check. I can't help it -- when I see this picture, I hear John Cleese's voice in my head saying, "Ah suck in mah cheeks in your general dee-rection!"

I have to confess, I've had a bit of an emperor's-new-clothes reaction to Balmain so far. The stuff certainly is eye-catching, but I just don't love it. There were a couple of looks that came down the runway for the Fall 09 collection that I liked well enough:

This is a silhouette I've been working myself quite a bit of late (minus the pagoda shoulders)

and I do kind of love this -- it's one of my favorite dress-up MO's, the super-special skirt and the nonchalant top.

But I don't find anything all that inspiring about Decarnin's clothing in general. It seems to me that this is a very traceable riff on the vacuum-sealed-leg silhouette that Ghesquiere made really hot at Balenciaga a few seasons ago and that continues to torture inspire us, along with a sprinkling of those super-short party dresses that look like someone went after the Hervé Leger archives with pinking shears and a Bedazzler.

Good heavens! Well... it's... um, it's a great color, huh?

I don't care if Olivier Theyskens did the bi-level hem thing at Nina Ricci, I'm never going to get on board with this. It gives me Demi Moore flashbacks -- I will never be able to un-remember that dress.

This is just bad. This looks like a Project Runway challenge -- create a garment made from things you find at Pep Boys!

I haven't even fully come to terms with regular harem pants yet, and now you give me harem pants slit up to my waist? Mr. Decarnin, I don't feel that my needs are being addressed here...

This dress is kinda cool, in a completely inaccessible way. (Or maybe it's just that you could wrap Carmen Kass in a moth-eaten bathmat and she'd make it look fantastic.) I'm sure some pop music princess or lingerie model will be sporting it on some red carpet somewhere soon. But this is not real-life fashion; this is not even real-life dress-up fashion. I have pillowcases that have more fabric than this does.

Balmain has been the hot label among the hardest of the hard-core Fashionista set the last few seasons -- the stylists and editors and so-chic-it-hurts-to-hug-them Parisian women who mill about in the Jardin des Tuileries between fashion shows. I do not look at this stuff and see a lot that I or other regular folks can incorporate into my everyday fashion life, but it's dawning on me that maybe this is why it's so popular among this set. Certainly, sporting a jacket like the one above marks you as a fashion insider. Even more than that, it marks you as the kind of person who spends $11K on a jacket. A pretty tiny person who spends $11K on a jacket -- Net-A-Porter seems not to have offered these in any size above a 42, which probably translates roughly to an American 6, based on their size charts. Even more amazing? They're almost all sold out.

This dress:


retails for very nearly 20,000 American dollars (click on the photo if you don't believe me) and is available on in exactly one size -- a French 38. According to Net-A-Porter, you have to have hips smaller than 36" to squeeze into a Balmain size 38 skirt. I'd say that was stupid because they were eliminating a huge part of the buying public, but who am I kidding? The kind of people who spend that kind of money on that kind of dress also have the means to maintain 36" hips, whatever it takes.

So. One wears Balmain because one is A) rich, B) in the know, and C) skinny.

I'll bear that in mind should I ever join the Rich, Skinny, In The Know Sorority. Not sure I'm interested in joining, though. I don't even want to know what the initiation ceremony must be like...


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Susan B said...

This is one of those times when I snicker at "Fashion." Most of those are on the scale between "meh" and "it BURNS us, preciousssss!" And I am SO. OVER. the marching band jackets.

dana said...

I hate all that leg. They really do appear to have forgotten pants. But I kind of dig the jacket in denim.

Plumcake said...

Yeah, I'm just not impressed. It's Balenciaga meets Herve Leger and while I love Balenciaga (not so much HL) a house like Balmain deserves better. Balmain is going to be the Ungaro of the late "noughties"

Thumbelina Fashionista said...

LOL at your comments. I highly doubt these editors could afford Balmain--they're probably on loan or freebies for major PR. I have to admit that at first, I was intrigued; then I was swooning; now I'm bored. All of that press (especially on Jak&Jil) meant that it was over before it even came out.

P.S. I'm a size 37 (sometimes a 36.5 for sandals). Why do you ask? :) More temptations for the highly temptable?

Toby Wollin said...

This series of pictures brings to mind two thoughts: Michael Jackson in his 'spangly glove, marching band jackaet and Jeri curl' period and the whole "don't show your coochie" thing from another fashion blog. I'm old enough (ahem) to remember micro-minis the first time around and I can tell you that they are basically only for people who stand still. You can't walk in them; sit in them and if you drop OUT!!

StyleSpy said...

Deja -- I like the jackets. I just think the price is ludicrous.

Dana -- It's not the leg that bothers me so much as worrying about seeing what's at the top of the leg!!

Plummie -- As usual, what you said.

Thumbie -- I followed the same progression, only I left out the swooning. If he doesn't do something new soon it's going to get tiresome fast.

Toby -- perhaps these women stand on small wheeled platforms that get pushed around by attendants, so they can remain perfectly posed at all times. Come to think of it, I rather like that idea myself...

Belle de Ville said...

Maybe if I was a 20 something year old trustfundarian socialite I might rock this look...maybe.
I think that this look is so contrived. It has that fashion victim vibe all over it.

Claudia said...

You. Make. Me. Laugh.

Love it!

r r s said...

I am going directly to Goodwill after work to purchase every pair of 1980's acid-washed skinny jeans I can find. Then, I'm going to take them home and sandpaper/bleach them, then sell them for hundreds of dollars as "rrs recycled couture."