Building a “green” wardrobe can take time; but to amass one, you don’t have to look far. Brands like Loomstate, Bodkin, Stella McCartney, and Hessnatur are being sold alongside their less-eco counterparts at La Garçonne, Barneys New York, and Steven Alan.
For me, it all started with a skirt by Organic by John Patrick. Taken with its A-line shape and chocolate brown color, I was determined to make it my key purchase for fall. But, much to my dismay, it sold out instantaneously at Barneys—my go-to for designer clothing that’s also ecologically responsible. I knew environmentally friendly fashion had become popular, but I had no idea it had reached sold-out status. Luckily, after numerous phone calls (including one to the Organic PR office) I finally tracked the piece down on the Internet. And sure, when it comes to online shopping, the shipping isn’t exactly carbon neutral, but I figure that knowing more about how my clothing is made is at least a step in the right direction towards reducing my footprint.
And thankfully, as my green wardrobe journey continues, I have found more and more designers who manage to be environmentally friendly without compromising personal style. Perhaps John Patrick states it best: “Fashion first”—meaning aesthetics (in addition to global consciousness) should always be a priority. Over the next few weeks, we are going to help you build an eco wardrobe, one sustainable staple at a time—from dresses to cardigans to tanks. This week, we start with the knit.
The first thing that crosses the mind when thinking about Antwerp and shoes is, well, it isn’t fanciful, flirtatious heels, let’s put it that way. An androgynously stout and sensible lace-up, perhaps, or a chunky-soled military boot would be more like it. The Flemish are a direct, down-to-earth bunch, and they like their feet to be grounded in the same way. So when Bruno Frisoni visited the poetically gloomy city in search of inspiration for his latest Rendezvous collection for Roger Vivier, a special-order-only selection he presents during the couture shows, he didn’t cast his eyes towards the ground, but gazed upward. “The light there is incredible, so different from Paris,” he says. “All those Flemish painters from the seventeenth century—no wonder their sense of color is so beautiful. I wanted this collection to have an Antwerpian sense of glamour.” And thinking about the city also led to thinking about its deconstructionist, countercultural contribution to fashion, so much of which was derived from the darkly glamorous fringes of rock music, from the Rolling Stones (there is, says the designer, a touch of Keith Richards in all this) to Siouxsie Sioux and beyond, that there is a bit of gothic look to Rendezvous. A soft crocodile shoulder purse comes in a deep blood red. Gold chainmail is draped over black booties. An oversize three-dimensional chain that looks like it was lifted from the Antwerp dockside lies across a clutch. And one shoe dramatically reveals a deconstructed skeletal-like support mast for the heel. “It’s rock ’n’ roll,” Frisoni said, “but it’s still refined.”
Here Come the Brides: Alexis Mabille's Spring 2011 Couture
by Sarah Mower
Photo: Umberto Fratini/GoRunway.com
In days gone by, the front rows of the spring couture collections in Paris were lined with sharp-eyed mothers and their engaged-to-be-married daughters, doing an urgent reconnoiter of the haute wedding-dress market. Well, now that weddings have shot to the top of the summer 2011 social agenda in Europe (need we mention William and Catherine, Albert and Charlene, Zara and Mike?) the subject of “bridal”—long played down as uncool by many a fashion house—seemed certain to pop up sooner or later.
Well, it was sooner. Alexis Mabille, the young French designer who scored the first show in the spring couture calendar, set out his stall with no less than nine ivory dresses, all ideally aisle-worthy for a young bride. Mabille, an up-and-comer with a known talent for his ways with bows and Chantilly lace, might not yet be a contender in the grand cathedral stakes. But we all know how it goes: Once royal wedding bells start chiming across lands and seas, the rush to the altar—and bridal designers—is certain to multiply throughout nations. One way or another—one-shouldered, strapless, tuxedo-style, flower-edged, short, long or lacy—this young man is at the ready.
A John Galliano show—whether for Christian Dior (couture and ready-to-wear) or his own collection—is guaranteed to be an over-the-top display of his imaginative vision. And the experience is not limited to the spectacular clothes sent down the runway, for nearly as delightful to witness are the intricately executed, masterfully thought-out ensembles Galliano wears for his final bows. One gets the sense that nearly as much work and planning goes into them as goes into the entire collection.
On Monday, Galliano took his bow sporting a shag haircut and black military suit with a red scarf tied around his neck. Throughout the years, he’s dressed as a matador, Edward Scissorhands, and even an astronaut. He’s never the same, but he’s always John.
Giorgio Armani’s team—his whole crew of couture staff and seamstresses, transported from Milan to his Paris studio on the Rue Lauriston—are polishing up the collection he’ll show tomorrow night. Take that almost literally. The light-refracting properties of jewels (rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds inspired the collection he’ll send down the runway in a venue located off the Place Vendôme—the heart of the French jewelry establishment—on Monday.
The color and cut of precious gems have been conceptually transposed into ultramodern iridescent surfaces, slick 3-D constructs, and a set of domed Perspex headpieces designed by Philip Treacy. As an opener to the haute couture shows in Paris, the notion of precious stones makes a suitably sumptuous allusion in a season which reaches for the ultimate extravagance fashion can offer to both private clients as well as contenders for upcoming BAFTAs and Academy Awards. What to watch, though, in terms of the general shape-shifting dialog of trend? The way things are edging toward streamlined layering: a long top over a skinny pant. After pre-fall’s stirrings in the direction of tunics and leggings, there will be more to think about how we’ll want to realign proportions from Mr. Armani.
The inspiration for Emma Hill’s pre-fall collection was the fox. But in one of those quirky twists of fate, what started out as a near-mythic symbol of British rural life on the mood board of Hill’s mind spilled over into real life: Only days before she presented her pre-fall at Milk Studios in New York, the British press were going wild for a tale of the capture of a much-bigger-than-usual urban fox that had been prowling England’s green and pleasant suburban land, eluding capture for months. “I love it!” Hill says. “The majestic fox fights back!” Still, the intrusion of the country in the city is a pretty deft summation of what she is doing with this collection; for every cozy early 1960s-style duffle coat (think Tippi Hedren teaching at an English boarding school) or long striped cardigan over a short hedgerow floral dress, there is an A-line shift banded with opulent and oversize gold paillettes or a strictly belted motocross jacket. “I was thinking loveworn English manor houses—and what girls wear to party in them!” says Hill, laughing. Or, in her case, chortling all the way to the bank, given that Mulberry’s sales continue to spiral upwards, driven by the brand’s success with its accessories. For pre-fall, that means mushroom leather straight-shafted 1970s boots with a gilt ankle-strap chain, or a black satchel with gilded clasps—the Alexa, before its namesake, Alexa Chung, graduated high school. Even dogs get a look in the collection, with Hill knitting up a striped pullover, modeled by not a fox, but a perky miniature schnauzer.
Sometimes raspberry and often Bordeaux, the color red brings us to the heart of glamour. It started with the spring shows, but now bold hues are showing up for pre-fall too; maybe we’re feeling a little brighter about the future these days. And that’s not to mention the sea of scarlet starlets at this year’s Golden Globes, like January Jones or Natalie Portman, whose pink satin Viktor & Rolf dress sparkled with a glittering rose and matching rouge lip. Nothing quite hits the mark like the row of red lamps at Le Royal Monceau, newly renovated by Philippe Starck. It’s that crimson glow that once caught my eye after an Yves Saint Laurent show and made me want to book a room at the hotel next time I’m in Paris. The Monceau boasts a wealth of incredible design features, from fabulous cigar lounges to exquisite bedrooms, and was hugely popular with artists and writers back in the 1920s. I plan to channel some of that red radiance this season, perhaps with a ruby set on a gold ring.
There is no limit to the power of fashion and, this year, the industry is setting its sights on building a brighter, better, and infinitely greener future by participating in a new program, Runway to Green. The program, which funds leading environmental organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), has to date called on 24 fashion brands and designers to dedicate an item of their choosing from their Fall 2011 collection or create an item for the effort, and everyone from Yves Saint Laurent, Manolo Blahnik, Alexander Wang, and Burberry have jumped on board. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of these items will go directly to Runway to Green. Participating designers will take their environmental efforts a step further by working with NRDC’s educational program Clean by Design to find ways to green their own businesses and create more sustainable practices.
"Is it a flash? Is it a flash?” Those are the words Mae West asks her maids in I’m No Angel. She is asking if her imported embroidered gown, just delivered, will make an impact. That’s what counts at the Golden Globes.
If it takes days of prep and three to four hours of makeup, better make sure your dress has fireworks—great fabric, elegant lines, or wow detail. Someone should have told Helena Bonham Carter, nominated for her brilliant portrayal of a royal wife in The King’s Speech, to nix the idea of one green shoe and one pink shoe. Her Vivienne Westwood lamé and a haze of tulle and point d’esprit and James Dean-style sunglasses, was the evening’s train wreck.
Otherwise, there was a return to what people want to see: full-frontal glamour. The top honor goes to Nicole Kidman, a veteran red-carpet influential, wearing elegant white sequin Prada. That simple grosgrain waist defined with a flat bow was the best point of her refinement. Olivia Wilde was in a superb Marchesa: a bustier bombast of tulle and sparkle and perfectly combed hair.Natalie Portman (Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama, for Black Swan) surprised with a strapless, draped Empire Viktor & Rolf, spiked with a huge sparkling red rose. Her dress-up French twist and her bib-like necklace were perfect for the expectant mother. She called her look the way she always wants to dress, which translates to comfortable, modern elegance. Loved it. Julianne Moore’s modernist ponytail and almost-not-there makeup was the correct balance for her fuchsia one-shouldered/one-long-sleeved Lanvin by Alber Elbaz. The poufy sleeve was overkill, though, kind of like the padded shoulders of Anne Hathaway’s otherwise beautiful Armani Privé sparkler. Angelina Jolie’s long-sleeved emerald-green paillette Versace was a bit of a matronly choice, and the slightly extended shoulders didn’t help. Why would arguably the sexiest star in Hollywood go for something that looked as if it had been recycled from the back lots where Adrians or Orry-Kellys might have been discovered at the last minute? Tina Fey said she spent three-and-a-half hours in makeup to go with her gorgeous midnight-in-Paris blue L’Wren Scott velvet column. Void of flash, the dress was exciting in its simplicity. Sandra Bullock in Jenny Packham tulle and spangles looked super sixties cool. January Jones has the cool factor to pull off a red-fringe Versace that took its hues and lines from Madame Grès. It’s obvious she is involved in her choices, and after the blue Versace that she wore at the Emmys last spring, this choice puts her in a league of some of the best dresses ever seen on the red carpet. Less is definitely more: Claire Danes (winner of Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, for her role in HBO’s Temple Grandin) in a backless pink column by Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein Collection with a neat ballerina chignon and one simple gold bangle; and Sabrina-like cropped Michelle Williams in a nude daisy-chain appliqué Valentino—such an original choice. I have worked with Tilda Swinton in Paris, and she usually rings you from her car in Scotland, having dropped her children off at school. Her Jil Sander duchesse-satin evening skirt and simple white shirt, is exactly the way you think a practical mother juggling children, career, and life might opt to dress at night, even in Hollywood. What saved her from being a fashion blooper? Her impeccable glide and beautiful posture.
Fabulously practical and endlessly iconic, there is undoubtedly a pump to suit every occasion. Let’s start with what the season has to offer—you could punk it up with a black studded pair like the ones offered at Balmain, or punctuate your three-piece suit with a flame-red Nicholas Kirkwood heel. This silhouette is versatile enough to carry you effortlessly down the aisle in ivory satin or elongate the leg when rendered in nude. Marilyn Monroe wore hers with chic cocktail dresses, while belle de jour Kate Moss favors a skinny jean and a rock ’n’ roll leopard-print coat. Why not try both? And of course every first lady knows that a single sole pump is the surest way to polish her look in an instant. So instead of asking yourself which style fits the bill this spring, better to figure out how many pairs you can fit in your closet. My feeling is you could probably still make room for more.
As snow falls outside our windows, we’re daydreaming of gorgeous getaways. Here, we bring you more holiday travel diaries from our favorite jet-setters. First up is Caroline Sieber’s beach romp in Palm Beach, Florida, and the private Caribbean island of Mustique. Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony grabbed Spike Jonze and a crew of other best friends for surfing, sparklers, and even ATV rides in Mexico. Gossip Girl's Jessica Szohr was all over the map, but returned to her roots in Wisconsin; it was also a homecoming holiday for model Daria Strokus, ice-skating in her native Russia. And finally—it seems there was one place to be seen for the New Year's countdown—Yvonne Force Villareal gives us a glimpse of her star-studded Las Vegas vacation at the brand-new Cosmopolitan.
The Book That Celebrates a Century and Half of Style
by Mark Holgate
Photo: Courtesy of Ullmann-Publishing (book cover); Ben Stern (Vogue archival image)
You wouldn’t expect any book charging itself with the not-inconsiderable task of documenting fifteen decades of fashion to be anything less than weighty; lifting Charlotte Seeling’s sizable 512-page encyclopedia Fashion: 150 Years of Couturiers, Designers, Labels (Ullmann, due out on January 15) requires positively Herculean levels of strength. And with more than 500 illustrations, it’s unlikely you’ll be cradling the Kindle version in your hands anytime soon. (Your device would crash with the same resounding thump if you’d let this tome slip to the floor.) That aside, Seeling’s walk down the runways of history is worth a look for its broad sweep (from Belle Epoque curves to the twenty-first-century epoch with the likes of Haider Ackermann) and some great images. That’s the upside. The down? While there are plenty of case-study chapters devoted to individual designers—Alaia, Lagerfeld, McQueen, and McCartney—talents like Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein don’t, bizarrely, earn similar treatment here. And, to these eyes at least, there didn’t need to be pages devoted to Wolfgang Joop. Still, given this was originally published in Germany, that probably explains the support for Seeling’s home team.
Over the holidays, while the rest of us were stuck sleeping on airport luggage carousels with visions of snow-free runways dancing in our heads, Alexander Wang partied at the opening of Marquee Nightclub at The Cosmopolitan in Vegas. Frédéric Fekkai and his wife, Shirin von Wulffen, were on the move—spending their time first in Millbrook, New York, and then in St. Martin and St. Barth’s. Vogue.com contributing photographer Hanneli Mustaparta made the pilgrimage to her home country of Norway for a quiet Christmas with the family. And model Elettra Wiedemann and her fiancé, James, stole away together to Mexico. Upon their return, these jet-setters all shared their travel diaries (and the glitz and the glam that goes with them) exclusively with Vogue.com. (Editor’s Note: Clicking through these pics is more visually stimulating and voyeuristically satisfying than trolling your friends’ Facebook shots—and on just another winter’s day, bound to inspire travel fantasies to undertake in the year ahead.)
What prompted nonconformist Raquel Allegra to cut garments from rustic upholstery fabric was not admiration for Fräulein Maria’s sartorial skills in The Sound of Music. “I’m constantly experimenting with new textures,” explains the innovative Los Angeles–based designer, whose earlier designs have been snapped up by Madonna and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. “If I don’t want to sleep in it, it doesn’t belong in the collection.” With that in mind, it makes perfect sense she would turn her hand to natural Irish linen—a fine material often used for bedsheets and tablecloths in stately homes and discerning hotels—as her starting point for spring.
Making ease and softness her priority, self-taught Allegra set about washing and rewashing the coarsely woven cloth to achieve a gentle, springy hand, before using it to craft into skirts, shorts and trench coats, all elegantly set off with supple goat-suede lapels, hems and collars for a luxurious, worn-in effect. These deconstructed, femininely draped pieces look best layered on top of the other, as their creator intended: “I like to imagine ways of wearing most of the collection at one time,” says Allegra with a laugh. “But mostly, I just want to feel like I still have my pajamas on!