Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sharp & Steely

Saturday evening, while waiting to meet the fabulous Plumcake at one of my favorite places here in Austin, I pulled up a miraculously empty barstool and perched carefully upon it (above-the-knee skirts call for careful perching). The nice gentleman to my right, after a few bar-neighbor pleasantries, asked me if I worked in fashion in some way. Well, blushgiggle, yes, I do, as a matter of fact! (I'm pretty sure it was the hat that inspired his question. No one else was wearing one, and people do notice a hat.) This led to a conversation, specifically a conversation about fashion for men, which was a happy coincidence considering that the Spring 2010 men's shows were happening in Paris and Milan the last couple of weeks.

Bar-neighbor Ken & I discussed how fashion can be tricky for men -- there is a uniform, which can be a good thing because men don't have to think all that hard in order to look presentable. On the other hand, because men's fashion is a bit more circumscribed than women's, it's easier to fall into a rut and just wear the same old thing day after day. And, as Ken pointed out, women are the peacocks of our species -- we're the ones who are trained to preen and display. A man who dresses flamboyantly is much more likely to be looked at askance than a woman who does. Men in our culture are not taught to place as much of a premium on their appearance as women are, and so a man who does can be seen as a bit... suspect. That's if, of course, he can even bring himself to step out a bit -- most men, in my experience, are deathly afraid of dressing in a way that sets them at all apart from the crowd.

But yours truly believes that everyone, regardless of gender, deserves to look in the mirror and see something that makes you smile. Our clothes are the face we present to world, and we should like what our closets say about us, male or female.

So let's take a look at the Prada Men's Spring 2010 collection and see what lessons we can learn.

Tim Blanks' excellent review of this collection on Men.Style.Com reveals that my girl Miuccia decided to push the boundaries of the gray suit for men, and so the entire collection is black and shades of gray. Now, we all know how much Style Spy loves color, but I also love the play of multiple textures in a monochrome color scheme, and this collection has that in spades.

Gray, yes. Boring, no.

Prada also played a lot with sheerness and perforation in this show, which further contributed to the depth of textural detail.

And of course the tailoring is impeccable, because one of the things Prada does best is take a recognizable shape and execute it in a new way. So while she may be pushing the boundaries a bit with a perforated shirt, she tucks it under this gorgeous balmacaan and it's a little less scary. Although I think that coat may have some sheerness to it, as well -- I'm pretty cheesed at for not posting any detail shots from this show. Regardless -- that is one good-looking coat.

More layers and textures and prints. This one is a little riskier, with the giant herringbone of the pant, but the color scheme makes it go down a bit easier, I think. I for one would raise an approving eyebrow if my dinner date showed up wearing this.

Sleeveless for men is so tricky...

As forward-thinking as I like to believe myself, I don't think I'm quite ready for the sleeveless mock-turtleneck for men. (The fact that it's being modeled by Lurch doesn't help, either.)

This is a bit better:

Although, guys? Don the Full Blues Brothers at your peril. It almost never doesn't look ridiculous. I fully & enthusiastically support hats, as we all know, but a black fedora, even a beautiful woven one like this, is risky unless the rest of your outfit in no way makes you look as though you're about to break into a chorus of "Rubber Biscuit." Which means no Ray-Bans under the brim.

Okey-dokey. Here's where we take a runway look and dissect it into parts:

First -- theoretically, I really love that mesh polo. It's interesting and kind of bold without being at all femme-y to my eye, and I think it's really cool. However. Most of the men of my acquaintance are not barely-post-adolescent runway models with alabaster-smooth chests , so the guido potential is off the charts here and probably not worth the risk. (Once again I raise the clarion call for real, live men modeling men's clothes -- these boy-children are not the sort of eye-candy a grown-up wants to nibble!) Also... well, I'm just going to say it: nipples. Call me a prude if you will, but I don't want to see anyone's nipples except in very specific circs, and those circs are guaranteed never to happen in public. But I think I could really dig this polo over a t-shirt -- not just a plain old cop-out of a Hanes undershirt, but something with a color and maybe even a design that says, "I layered these shirts on purpose for visual interest." I think that could look pretty cool.

The cardigan I just full-on love. Love lovety lovelovelove. I want one for me, and I want one for all my man friends, because I think it is beautiful and eye-catching and elegant. It would look gorgeous over a colored dress shirt, or even just a nice t-shirt. It's different and interesting without being even close to over the top, and I just can't say enough how much I love it, and would love to see a man wearing it.

The mesh pants? Well, probably the less said about those the better. Again, pretty cheesed at the lack of detail shots for this show, although maybe these pants are the reason -- perhaps didn't want to risk an X-rating. Still -- wish there was a shot of him walking away because I'm dying to know what he's got on under there. Whaddya reckon -- boxers? Briefs? Thong? (Personally, I really hope it was a thong -- it's 2009, friends. It's time for Equal Opportunity Whale Tail.)

So. What can we take away from this lovely collection of men's clothes to add spark to our real-life Y-Chromes' wardrobes? First and foremost, good fit and tailoring are the one crucial element that must always be present. Next -- using texture and pattern to create visual interest can be easier to do well if the color scheme is monochromatic. Lastly, a classic clothing item like a cardigan or an overcoat done in an unexpected fabric or color can up the ante of an entire outfit without resorting to gimmickry. Clothes don't have to be costume-y to be special -- as a matter of fact, they never should be.

But the most important rule for men is the same as for women -- feel good about what you wear. If something sparks you, put it on and wear it. Don't rob yourself of the enjoyment of a great garment by saying, "I never wear this sort of thing," or, "It's not me," or, "I'm afraid of looking like a fool." Because A) there's a first time for everything, B) it's you if you choose to make it you and C) trust me, no one's paying as much attention as you think. And those of us who are? I promise we'll appreciate the effort.

Images: Men.Style.Com

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wherein Style Spy Selflessly Volunteers for a Good Cause

As you may have heard, Christian Lacroix is in trouble. His company filed for the French equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late May and the company is currently shaking down and possibly undergoing some major re-structuring. With all that, M. Lacroix has declared that he still intends to hold a couture show this July in Paris. He says, "It can't cost us a single euro to put this show on, because I'm not having my workers lose a penny from their pockets, but so far, it looks like thanks to other people's kindness – friends and suppliers working for free – it might happen." This means that everyone associated with the show, including models, will have to volunteer and work without pay.

Okay, where do I sign up? Seriously. This is a cause for which I have absolutely no problem volunteering. I will more than happily do my bit to save Fashion.
Yours truly has absolutely no extra money right now, but I would beg, borrow, or steal a kidney to get a ticket to Paris in order to amble down the Lacroix runway in something like this:

(Because I? Would ROCK that suit.)

or this

(I'll even let them put a little cinnabun thingie on top of my head if they want. I'm cool.)

and if they wanted to gimme a little sumpin'-sumpin' to take home as a soovie, these would do juuuuuust fine:


I've taken the liberty of contacting the nice people at Christian Lacroix and volunteered my services as a model. I don't feel this is completely out of the realm of the possible, since Lacroix publicly supports British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman's call for models who are not so cadaverously thin as the current trend demands: "Very skinny women don't look beautiful in clothes. What I cannot stomach, because it evokes the war to me, is when you can see a woman's kneecap protruding in its entirety, skinny elbows, or a woman's chest bones." (See? This is a man whose company deserves to be saved!)

If you'd like to support your Style Spy's efforts here, please feel free to contact them via e-mail to advocate for my cause. If they let me do it, I promise to take lots & lots & lots of photos and come back with the fashion scoop of a lifetime, so everyone wins! (Just be aware that if they agree, I'll be hitting you all up for frequent flyer miles!) And remember -- this isn't about me, or my selfish couture desires -- it's about saving Fashion!!

In the meantime, you can do your bit to help save Christian Lacroix by doing what we love to do best: shopping!
How about these? (click photos for links!)

Christian Lacroix - 983183 (Black Satin) - Footwear

J'adore beaucoup this beaded Eiffel Tower motif, and have shown you the high-heel version of these shoes before. But these are even better because they're flats, so I wouldn't need a special occasion to walk around with my favorite icon on my feet -- I could wear them to the grocery store! Oh, so love!

Or these lovely things

Christian Lacroix - 984951 (Black Satin) - Footwear

which I featured a runway version of on this blog many, many moons ago. Such a pretty boot. Wouldn't those be great with a black pencil skirt and a charmeuse blouse? Just a little extra sexy added to classic. ::sigh::

At the very least, let's all hold a good thought for M. Lacroix, a man who is generally considered in the fashion world to be a genuine sweetheart. Lacroix is one of the truly great creative minds in fashion today, his designs season after season represent the limitless possibilities of couture -- the wild flights of fancy, the exuberance, the astonishing eye for detail, the riotous colors, the tumult of pattern and fabric and texture all meticulously crafted by artisans at the pinnacle of their crafts. Losing Lacroix would bring us one step closer to the demise of that brilliant, beautiful and necessary species called couture, one step closer to a uniform world of gray jumpsuits and workboots.


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Internet Porn




Hey -- everbody got they thang, that's what I always say. Don't judge. But if you, like me, really enjoy some good, juicy, full-on sweaty palms, hide-it-in-the-drawer-of-your-beside-table shoe action -- go here.

Don't be ashamed if you like it a little too much. We're all friends here.


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Films for Fashionistas -- Teutonic Edition

I don't think there's any argument that Karl Lagerfeld is a hugely talented individual. (And if you have one to make, please feel free.) I for one wouldn't balk at the adjective "protean." He designs three separate fashion lines with very different sensibilities. He also has a full-fledged career as a fashion photographer, doing editorial work for magazines as well as a good chunk of the advertising for the lines he designs.

And I'm not even going to get into the DJ-ing and the art & architecture collaborations and whatnot. It's always something with Karl. So, yes, protean, and probably genius.

I also don't think there's any argument that he's... well, an odd duck. How odd? Eh. Maybe a little less so than I thought.

Last weekend I finally got around to watching this:

Considering its subject, this movie should have been more interesting. The promotional materials talk very proudly about how the filmmaker, Rodolphe Marconi, spent three years filming hundreds of hours of footage for this film and if that is in fact true, I'm afraid Mr. Marconi needs a new editor. I'm probably being unfair here, because one of the other things that gets said a lot in the press material is that Mr. Marconi wanted to approach a documentary in such a way that "broke all the rules" of documentary filmmaking. Production notes state that "He demonstrates a delicate and subtle touch by deconstructing the documentary style and the conventions of portraiture; he chooses not to be polemical; he will show no insolence or disrespect. He rejects the style of television investigations and concentrates on what he feels as an artist about the Lagerfeld legend." That's a valid artistic ambition and all (love the Pompous Artspeak couched in that wonderful, awkward, hilarious French-to-English Translate-ese), but the thing about a movie about Karl Lagerfeld is that probably most of your audience is going to be hard-core fashionistas and design geeks and we want a little more than a tone poem.

I want to know how the guy works. I want to know what his design process is like, what his studio environment is like, just how many design assistants does he have, how on earth does a person maintain the kind of artistic output that Lagerfeld is generating? I want to meet the people he works with and hear about what he's like as a boss, I want to see how things go from ideas to plans to garments on a hanger. I want the down & dirty details of how Lagerfeld makes fashion. I don't, honestly, care all that much about his relationship with his mother.

And there is a LOT of talk about his mother. She sounds fascinating, don't get me wrong, one of those classic beaux monstres that are almost a cliché of the Artist's Mother -- a kind of post-Weimar Sally Bowles meets Auntie Mame. If Lagerfeld is to be believed, he's been openly gay since he was pre-adolescent, and his family, especially his mother, were always perfectly okay with it, even blasé about it. Given that this would have been mid-1940's Germany, that seems remarkable. On the other hand, Lagerfeld does seem an extraordinarily singular personality, so I guess it stands to reason that he was raised by unusual people.

Still, the fact remains that I personally am much less interested in finding out what makes Karl tick than seeing how he ticks, and there's precious little of that in this film. We do get this delicious nugget, footage from what I think is a Chanel Couture show:


I'd sure like to see more stuff like that rather than what I presume are home movies of the child Karl frolicking in the surf somewhere. (Are they Karl? Where was the surf? Who took these? We're never told. That really annoys me. It's pretty to look at, but Style Spy wants information.)

My favorite section of the movie comes exactly midway through it. It's a short interlude of Lagerfeld talking while he sketches.

He works in marker and correction fluid, mostly, and it's fascinating to watch. He's an extremely sure-handed sketcher, the pictures takes only a few minutes to complete and there is no hesitation whatsoever in Lagerfeld's movements. In my ideal version of the Karl Lagerfeld movie, we see him make that sketch, and then we find out how that garment is realized and see it worn by someone with a pulse.

But this isn't my movie, it's Mr. Marconi's movie, and in his ideal Karl Lagerfeld movie it's more important to know what Karl thinks about love, and whether he likes living alone or with someone else.

I'm not not recommending this movie. It's lovely to look at and is more information about Lagerfeld than I had before, even if it wasn't nearly all the information I wanted. It will not be a wasted 90 minutes, I assure you. (Unlike, say, the first two episodes of "True Blood," which I also watched last weekend. That's two hours of my life I'm never going to get back.) I honestly liked Lagerfeld more after watching it than I did before, and that surprised me. Yes, odd duck for sure, but his oddity seems genuine and somehow gentler than I expected it to be. I didn't get the feeling from this movie that Lagerfeld is putting on a show -- he really is this off-kilter, singular, visionary guy who lives in his own little world, but he doesn't seem particularly impressed by himself. He does make a lot of pronouncements about Life and the Way Things Are, but hell, he's earned the right. Most of his life and its activities seem motivated above all by a strong desire not to be bored or complacent, and I understand and even admire that.

So. Style Spy rating? One stiletto up (out of a possible two). Have you seen this movie? Tell me what you thought about it. Or give it a watch and report back, I'd like to hear your opinions.

Images:,,, all via;

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shop Style Spy's Closet -- June 23

More closet purging from Style Spy! And this time I'm busting out some really good stuff... (Click photos for links that have more details.)

Red leather Adrienne Vittadini knee-high boots, size 40.

Gorgeous. Too big for me.

NEVER-WORN Marc Jacobs skirt from his spectacular S/S 2008 collection (size 4).

This is an incredible piece, and an incredible bargain.

Beautiful camel silk Stella McCartney blouse (size 8 or so)

A lovely thing that I never wear because it's just too big for me.

The most adorable leopard-print calf hair pumps EVER:

Giuseppe Zannoti, size 40.

A pair of Jimmy Choo flats (size 39) that will become your best friends:

Seriously, you will wonder how you lived without them until now.

All these things are guaranteed genuine and in excellent condition. Check out Style Spy's Closet and give them a good home!

Images: Style Spy

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I get asked occasionally, and today would be the day to answer...

It's my father's wedding ring. I wear it most of the time -- not always, because my greatest terror is losing it, so I don't wear it when I'm running or things like that. It is my most precious possession and the thing in my entire wardrobe I would most hate to be without.

My dad died almost five years ago. I don't miss him any more than usual on Fathers' Day, because I miss him every day. And I don't need a piece of jewelry around my neck to remind me of how much he gave me in his too-short life, but I do like having it. Our relationship was complicated and not perfect, but I loved him, and he loved me, and we both knew it.

I hope everyone reading this has a memory of fatherly love that warms you today, whether your father is still with you or not.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, June 19, 2009

Spill Your Guts

Inspired by
dear Polka Dot, herewith find a photo of Style Spy's guts:

My purse guts, that is. This is the usual stuff that fills my handbag. Any men reading this blog right now will be scratching their heads thinking, Who cares what this wackdoodle carries around in her purse? Why would she show anyone that? But what I know about women is that the only thing that fascinates us more than what kind of handbag a woman carries is what she carries in it. Am I right? Men don't understand -- looking into a woman's handbag is like looking into her soul.

So what's in mine? (If you click on the photo it'll get bigger.) From top-ish to bottom-ish:

*See-through plastic zip-thingie with all kindsa stuff: band-aids, wet-wipes, various painkillers, Beano (Hey, I'm mostly vegetarian -- you'd thank me if you were my IRL friend), Emergen-C, Blister Block, toothpaste, floss, panty shields, fat-free salad dressing packets... You know, the basics.
*The little pink thing holds a couple of emergency tampons. Because we've all learned that lesson the hard way, haven't we? (I also have an emergency tampon stash in my car.)
*Gum (sugar-free, of course!), as well as sugar-free mints & hard candies. I'm addicted & trying to quit, I swear.
*Make-up bag: Burt's Bees balm (always & forever), whatever color lipstick I'm wearing that day, YSL Touche-Eclat, contact lens drops, blotting papers, a nail file, a nail clipper, a couple of bobby pins, a mirror, Shu Uemura concealer, an eye cream sample from Clarins, often a decant of whatever perfume I'm wearing. I'm not much of one for re-applying makeup during the day. If my mascara can't last a few hours, I need a new mascara.

(The clear zippered bags are very important. I. CANNOT. STAND. Having to root around in my handbag looking for shit. I have ZERO patience for that. These are my solution. Plus, it means I don't have to transfer everything into zip-loc bags before I get on an airplane.)

*Sunglasses (these are Miu Miu & they have teeny rhinestones all around the frames and I am totally in love with them) in a hard case. I'm compulsive about my shades -- they
always go into the case before they go into the bag.
*Wallet. It's pretty much empty these days, but still...
*Tiny notebook (from a Neiman Marcus goodie bag) in case I need to jot something down.
*Couple of pens
*Red leather business card case (with cards, natch)
*Small tube of hand lotion
*Handkerchief (I like hankies. I get vintage ones because they're fun & colorful, and people always comment on them. It's interesting to make someone smile by blowing your nose.)

That's pretty much it. I will cop to having removed all the bits of paper & candy wrappers & receipts that were lurking in there for the sake of neatness, but other than that it's what lives in my bag day to day. It doesn't change a whole lot -- if I'm not going to be out long (say, just a run to the grocery store), I might leave home the notepad and the first zipper bag. For evening, it gets much smaller -- phone, keys, blotters & lippie, mirror & eye drops (I have a tendency to dry eyes, which gets unpleasant, especially in the over-air-conditioned Antarctica that is Austin in the summertime), and I have a smaller wallet that goes into an evening bag.

So. Now it's your turn. Spill your guts for Style Spy. If you're so inclined (and I really, really hope you are), take a picture of your purse guts and send it to me in an e-mail to shine at austin dot rr dot com. It's okay if the photos are large -- I can size them down. Don't forget to tell me about the contents. I'll be posting a few of them on the blog. It's a fun way for me to find out a little more about my readers.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Image: Style Spy

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Are You a Good Boot? Or a Bad Boot?

Hmmmmmmm... I dunno about these. Theoretically, I should love them. I love the idea of them.

But I just don't know. They may be just a little too Pleaser USA, if you know what I mean.

They are not Pleaser USA (the $800+ price tag is your first clue there); they are actually Giuseppe Zanotti, a shoe label that is really marvelous when they get it right
and pretty tragifying when they get it wrong. I'm on the fence about this one.

Tell me what you think. Vote in the poll in the top right corner!

(With thanks and apologies to lovely Stephanie at Style Odyssey!)

Amended to add:

Just to be clear, I'm not contemplating purchasing these boots. I just saw them on Stephanie's blog and they made my mind whir. I don't think I'd ever buy shoes I was that doubtful about, especially not at that price. Besides, I already have these:

My Stuart Weitzman Goliaths, which have given me nary a moment of doubt and many an hour of joy, for a fraction of the price. What more could a gal need?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Un Chapeau Pour Monsieur Blue

My friends Mr. Blue and Mr. Blond are going to Paris and London this September. I don't hate them for this (she said through gritted teeth) because they are two of my most beloved friends and of course it makes me happy when people I love go to my favorite places on Earth (even without me).

Recently, Mr. Blue sent me a note about the trip:

"I'm wondering if I'll need a hat, since we'll be walking around a great deal and, well, Mother Nature no longer covers up my scalp the way she used to. Will sunburn be a factor in September? And if so, can you recommend a certain style of hat for me?"

Well, good heavens, I told Mr. Blue, when don't I recommend a hat??

September in Paris could be summery and could be autumn-y, but I think they're more likely to have warmer weather. (Those with a better knowledge of Paris, please feel free to correct/amplify on this. I've been there in August, and I've been there in October, so I'm extrapolating.) Of course, they will be much further north than they are at home in Dallas, so the sunshine won't be anywhere like as intense, but it's never a bad idea to protect the scalp. I would suggest a trilby. A trilby is always sharp, covers the ol' headbone, is not as affected as a fedora. I think for these purposes something made of fabric -- it's really a little late in the year for straw (summery) and too early for felt. (And god forbid you should ever, EVER even contemplate a leather fedora. Just put a knife in my heart & be done with it.) Knowing Mr. Blue's wardrobe & coloring, I suggested blue or gray.

I love a trilby because it takes a guy's wardrobe up a teeny notch -- with a nice hat on your head, you feel a little less inclined to wear dirty sneakers and cargo shorts, but it's not so snazzy you can't wear a pair of jeans.

Hats are funny. People can be very resistant to them, but once they start wearing them, usually I find their response is, "Oh, of course, why haven't I always been doing this?" Many people think they will feel self-conscious wearing a hat, but I find that while I do sometimes get attention for wearing one, it is without fail positive attention. And in Paris or London? Pshaw. Seriously, you could die from how chic the Parisian men are. And Londoners? Nothing phases Londoners, fashion-wise.

So, yeah, absolutely. Hat it up, baby!! Here are some ideas:

Metallic Gold Mesh Trilby Crushable

(This isn't for Mr. Blue, of course, this is for ME! How fantastic is this?? I am SO buying this hat!)

Linen Cotton Ribbon Band Trilby

(This one is also a bit femme-y for a man, probably. But all of these hats would look great on a woman.)

And how did all this hat talk turn out? Well, see for yourself.

M. Blue dans son nouveau chapeau.

This is deeply satisfying. Because the only thing Style Spy likes more than telling people what to wear is having them listen to her and actually wear it!

Stumble Upon Toolbar