A mixed blog of fashion goodies
Have an idea for the Hint Blog? Email us.
Bookmark and Share

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hint recommends...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Look at the super cute way Alber Elbaz and author Dean Merceron signed my copy of "Lanvin" at their book signing. (And check out our little review.) ...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Operation Desert Spa

A tale of escape, discovery and psychic detox by Liz Armstrong...

When my cat died two years ago, he bequeathed to me his psychic ability. But all my partying since had tarnished my third eye, so I decided to spend my birthday last weekend polishing it up. On the first day, my closest lady kin joined me at a manicured little spa in Desert Hot Springs called The Spring, soaking in pussy-soft geothermal mineral waters, indulging in dry-brush detox and relaxing my headbones with cranial dreamwork. Later, after a snifter of Tuaca at The Parker, a luxuriously psychedelic rumpus room in Palm Springs (perhaps you saw the reality show on Bravo), we retired back to the spa.

That night, Santa Ana winds threw deck chairs around the mineral pools like it was a bar fight. The spa's proprietors said they’d never seen such a dust storm in all their years. I kept waking up in a sweat, thinking the resort was on fire. The next day, San Diego and Los Angeles started to burn.

About an hour into the Mojave desert and away from the disaster, we visited a fantastic spaceship tabernacle called the Integratron. Designed in 1954 by George Van Tassel, an aeronautics engineer and pioneer in electromagnetic physics, the Integratron was designed as a high-voltage electrostatic generator that could repair a body’s cell structure through various energy frequencies. It’s basically human-battery-recharger in the shape of a dome, using principles of sacred geometry and directives from extra terrestrials who visited Van Tassel in 1953 from the planet Venus. And it’s totally not a joke.

Though the dome was completed, Van Tassel died before his dream was fully realized. The two sisters who now own and keep the Integratron running decided to reinterpret his ideas and encourage cellular regeneration via “sound baths.” You know how you get a super pure ringing sound when you run your liquor-soaked finger around the rim of a crystal chalice? Imagine that chalice is pure quartz and about 617 times larger and thicker, and that there are nine of them, each keyed to a different chakra, and you begin to understand the instruments the sisters played.

As instructed, we removed our shoes and crept up a wooden ladder into the upper part of the dome. A couple dozen people cocooned in hand-woven serapes lay on the hardwood floor, blissing out to generic New Age music twinkling softly in the background. It looked like a Heaven’s Gate reunion, but we joined them anyway. Soon the sound bath began and I tripped my fucking head off.

In the most radical concert ever on the planet, tone after celestial tone reverberated throughout the chamber, often stacking up, sometimes canceling each another out, ringing in one ear and out the other. Not knowing the session had ended, I followed the last note on a star beam back to its magical kingdom.

Now my third eye sizzles like a laser.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wolfgang Tillmans Strikes Again

Aaron Rose—who, over a decade ago, founded Alleged Gallery, the legendary little storefront gallery in the Lower East Side that had a pivotal role in shaping the careers of Terry Richardson, Ed Templeton, Barry McGee and other street-inspired outcast artists, and who now works as an independent curator when he's not editing books like Young, Sleek, and Full of Hell (Drago)—gives us his take on the new Wolfgang Tillmans solo show...

Last Friday night I was fortunate enough to attend the opening of Wolfgang Tillmans new show at Andrea Rosen gallery. If you've never heard of Tillmans, he made his name in the early 1990s with his snapshot-style photojournalism for magazines like i-D in London. Well, he's come a long way since then and though he still contributes to magazines, he's now considered one of the most important contemporary photographers out there.

What I love most about his work is that even though he's been at it for twenty years or something, he hasn't lost his edge. I could see at the opening that he was just as excited about this installation as he must have been back in the day. There's a playfulness in his technique that shows that he continues to experiment even though he doesn't really have to anymore. I guess my best description of what I felt at the show would be that it looks like he's having fun with photography. Like a child.

Even more importantly, for the last few exhibitions of his I've seen, he's set up wooden vitrines throughout the gallery filled with ephemera. Some of it is photographic, but most of it is political, dealing with American imperialism, the war in Iraq, the AIDS crisis and a host of other important issues that many contemporary artists (for some reason) tend to ignore of late. It's super refreshing to see an artist doing his job. Not just by creating visually inspiring work, but by making people aware of the world around them and how each and every one of us has a role in making it a better place.

Wolfgang Tillmans, Through November 24th, Andrea Rosen Gallery, 525 West 24th Street, NY, NY 10011

Hi-Tops Go High Fashion

Cator Sparks gets his sneak on...

Former graffiti artist and now fashion designer, Swindle editor and general troublemaker, Claw Money launched her Nike Vandal hi-top—based on the classic 1985 hoop shoe—last night with a party at I Heart store on Mott Street. Nike asks artists to collaborate on limited-edition kicks regularly, but this is the first time a woman has been enlisted. Claw told me that when she was offered the opportunity, she immediately chose the Vandal because it is one of her favorite styles, but she could never find it in her petite size. Now femme sneaker heads worldwide can rejoice!

While streetwear isn't my forte, nor do I own a pair of sneakers, Claw said her inspiration was none other than my favorite designer, Vivienne Westwood. She saw her interviewed once and Vivienne quipped, “Some people are regular birds in a flock and others are peacocks strutting their stuff.” Hence the peacock-feather print.

The party was poppin’ by 9 pm, when the door lady had to turn people away. Luckily I knew said door lady and snuck in. The crowd was an amusing variety of girls in skinny jeans and random neon accessories, and boys in Supreme caps (I didn’t get the memo). I met fashion photographer Danielle Levitt, a dear friend of Claw’s who was feeling the peacock motif with a colorful kimono frock and swilled with Kelly McCabe from Complex, singer Terra Deva and a bevy of Claw's gal pals.

The Vandals retail for $150 and are sold exclusively at I Heart until October 27, when they will be found in tier zero Nike stores nationwide. What does tier zero mean? If you don’t know, you won't be buying a pair anyway.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stylist Haidee Findlay-Levin, in her element...

Tonight at Splashlight Studios, the spotlight fell on a behind-the-scenes and often underrated part of fashion: stylists. Sarah Mower is the super smart and talented author of STYLIST: The Interpreters of Fashion. In the book, she sheds light on these unsung heroes, examining their roles and contributions to the industry. It is still only in fashion circles or in the fashion press that certain stylists, like their model counterparts, have reached first name status—Polly! Grace! Lori! Brana!

Images from the book—collaborations between stylists and photographers—were displayed on what looked like oversized iPhones. Each stylist had a display unit on which guests had to make sweeping hand gestures to advance the images or sound-bites, not dissimilar to that new hand vocabulary Apple has imposed on us. As someone still trying to navigate my way with my Blackberry (do I dare admit this?), I had to enlist the help of Marianne, wife of famed hair stylist Christian and agent of photographer Arthur Elgort. As she waved her hands over the sensory panel like a concert conductor, she finally managed to reveal each stylist's portfolio of work. I could only imagine the painful editing process behind this.

Then I had a lovely chat with one of my favorite people (ever since I began styling in London) and one of fashion's few authentics: Melanie Ward. She took great delight in showing me the childhood photo of herself and her brother Tony (aka photographer Anthony Ward). No more than 4 or 5, he good-heartedly winced as he wore pink Byronic ruffles—apparently he was one of Melanie's first dress-up dolls. Adorable, but bore no resemblance to the amazing and directional ideas she brought to her 15-year collaboration with designer Helmut Lang.

Later I spoke with publisher Anthony Petrilose, who collaborated on this book for Rizzoli, and has numerous others under his belt and up his sleeve. He said he loved spending time with fashion's most enthusiastic and first real stylist, Polly Mellon. He admitted that after hearing her stories and seeing pictures from decades of collaborating with Richard Avedon, he was convinced that there was an entire book right there. You heard it here first!

- Haidee Findlay-Levin

How many Belgians does it take to fill a basement?

Karin Nelson finds out...

Last Saturday’s opening celebration of Le Sous Sol, a rabbit hole-sized, subterranean shop devoted to emerging Belgian designers, wasn’t the biggest rager on the block. The dinner scene at Schiller’s, located just next door on Rivington St., unquestionably outdid it. But it was the most progressive, attracting an international crowd of Antwerp Six enthusiasts (artist Amber Halford, designer Hanuk, French jazz singer Christine Capdeville and gallerist Bronwyn Keenan among them) all sipping Seabreezes and discussing the future of fashion. (Roller-disco in Central Park was also a hot topic, but that’s a separate story).

Longtime stylist Linda Belkebir (right, with a friend) opened Le Sous Sol along with her sister Sarah to showcase Belgium’s rising design stars, people like: Jessie Lecomte, who worked for a decade with Dries Van Noten before launching her own highly-structured line last season; Jean Paul Knott, a 12-year veteran of Yves Saint Laurent; Eric Beauduin, who crafts cool one-of-a-kind bags from recycled leather; and A.F. Vandevorst, the main attraction. “They’re really why we opened the store,” said Linda of the husband/wife duo. “I couldn’t find their clothes anywhere.” As a result, Le Sous Sol carries the biggest selection of A.F. Vandevorst in the country. But given the way the crowd was drooling over their cocoon-like knit sweaters, it still may not be enough.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Is BOSS Black For Whites Only?

Haidee Findlay-Levin offers sage advice...

The last time I went to a party at the Cunar building, it was to an extremely decadent party for Hermès, complete with a garden topiary and maze filled with towers of profiteroles and macaroons. I imagined, with the huge success of Hugo Boss, a similar such experience from their BOSS Black spring collection and after-party last Wednesday night in New York.

The atmosphere at the BOSS event was quite different—black and dark with ultra-violet lighting. My fluoro-orange nails lit up immediately around my glass, which was an easy way for my date to find me, should I have strayed in such a cavernous space. There were multiple nooks and little encased animal skeletons at the tables. I later learned that the whole set and environment had been designed by Bryan Robert Hamecs of Feltetc, who's website I was coincidentally looking at earlier that day. Bryan's work is in "cultivating botanical experiences" for art and fashion events, and he is wonderfully talented.

Out of the darkness, I spotted my friend, fellow stylist and show companion John Hullum. I had arrived late (due to circumstances out of my control) so he filled me in with a full show report. It wasn't so much the clothes he was really reporting on, but the event itself—and he was not pleased. He said the casting featured only white boys and girls, and mostly blondes. A full Aryan cast, as he described it—not even a single person of color. Sure, the mix of Tanya D., Sasha Pivovarova, Katherine McNeil, Ryan Taylor, Fion, Mathias and Jamie looked fantastic, but wouldn't it have looked even more fantastic with at least Chanel Iman tucked in there for good measure?

Yet what shocked my friend most was not the completely white line-up, but what followed. A black girl finally appeared, followed by another, and another, but all dressed as maids, complete with trays of champagne in hand. There was a smattering of white girls in this assembly, but by this point, the effect was already made.

Very surprising, especially considering the recent panel discussion on race in fashion covered in the New York Times and WWD that very day. Last season, the discussion regarding models was ALL about their mass index or weight and about potential eating disorders. But like everything in fashion, the talk and trend has moved. The conversation de jour is a more relevant and important one, that of race. The fashion industry has currently become almost immune to color, in both advertising and editorial, but especially in shows. 

Fashion has had quite a flirtation with the image of Aryan youth in recent shows and collections, menswear especially. But you would think that a multi-million dollar, internationally successful company such as Hugo Boss, originally German and known to have manufactured Nazi uniforms for the SS and Hitler Youth during WWII (see "Fashion Firm Discovers its Holocaust History" by Robin Givhan, Washington Post, 8/14/97), would be a little more conscious of race relations. They should consider their visual impact and image a little more thoughtfully.

- Haidee Findlay-Levin

Friday, October 19, 2007

Wear it like you own it. Dance it like you wrote it.

In a shout-out to Róisín Murphy, Dean Mayo Davies is Overpowered...

Formerly of the band Moloko, the London-based Irish chanteuse Róisín (pronounced Row-sheen) Murphy collaborated with Matthew Herbert on her snappy electronic solo album, Ruby Blue, a couple of years back. Now she's unleashed Overpowered, a soulful, s-s-sexy, disco-style long player that brings Studio 54 glamour to the MySpace generation.

"Essentially it’s a disco record," she told me this morning, after performing for Gucci at Fashion Rocks last night. "It's also the first time I’ve tried to make a genre record. It’s not as accidental as anything I’ve made before. I had a very clear focus for it before I started."

She's focused indeed and, when it comes to fashion, unafraid to wear the most conceptual stuff around. If it's big and bright, chances are she's worn it, or will. Epic Maison Martin Margiela shoulders? Check. Gareth Pugh woven foil coat with inflatable collar? Check. Viktor & Rolf dress with personal lighting rig and high-heeled clogs? Check.

And she's well aware that it's hard work being this fabulous. "It’s terrible because I can’t out-do myself now, the outfits are just bigger and bigger! So every time I do a video or a TV show or something it’s such a bloody headache now. I’ve worn all the biggest outfits in the world!"

Currently on tour in Europe, she's sure to play one of her hot jams at a nightspot near you. Prepare to get a lil' Overpowered yourself.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Monkey Love

Images from Outmigration, a performance-art piece at Monkey Town (a kind of postmodern supper club in Williamsburg), co-conceived by our friends at the graphic design shop Mogollón, who describe the show as "what it would feel like to take off, defeat gravity and get drunk at the edge of space." The twelve-course feast in seven acts runs only through October 28.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hint stringer Liz Armstrong rocks out in Chicago...

Selena Trepp art Cody Hudson art

While no one would accuse Jil Sander of being a loud and freewheeling label, a gallery show celebrating rock 'n' roll launched in the attic of its Chicago boutique Thursday night. Employees cleared out ten years’ worth of stuff that died—apparently a graveyard of sewing machines and old computers—to make way for an offshoot of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s raucous “Sympathy for the Devil” exhibit, both events curated by Dominic Molon (left).

The opening party attracted the politest bunch of people you ever did see. Besides Cody Hudson, Selena Trepp and Terrence Hannum—the three artists showing work in the tidy space—Jil Sander America president Michele Sodi, Tortoise member Dan Bitney, Lumpen magazine founder Ed Marszewski, post-rock art chanteuse Azita Yousefi and girls wearing hay they snatched from an MCA installation in their hair clinked glasses—the gals in the bunch talking in three-inch voices. We all had a jolly old time, sure, but the opening was so clean and tasteful—nothing at all like what we were supposed to be glorifying. If they left all the junk there, at least we would could have been slightly appalled.

“Rock 'n' roll is something people care really deeply about,” said Molon. “Anyone who loves it is gonna think I got something wrong.” He might be right. Rock 'n' roll isn’t an air kiss and a bottle of fine chardonnay served in crystal stemware; it's a boisterous embrace and a cheap beer grasped by a hand-crocheted neon patchwork cozy. Which is exactly why I took off for a noise show at an unmarked space in the creepy industrial section of the city’s West Loop.

Jesus is my savior naked beer, cozy beerliving quarters big hug

In the musty, dungeon-like basement of a warehouse that had been converted into shanties made from construction-site detritus, kids with gap-toothed smiles (due to any number of violent and/or hedonistic pursuits) smoked themselves into a nicotine frenzy. Gnarly sex beats blasted from spaceship-like control boxes manned by Unicorn Hard-On (left), a rad thrasher chick named Val Martino who recently moved from Los Angeles to Nashville, while an angelic, afro-coiffed, albino-esque giantess with a holographic puff vest and shiny braces snapped photos. Some ruddy youngster in wide corduroys that looked like they were spit out of a dumpster grabbed my ass and winked.

Now this—the carcinogenic stench, the malefic sway, the secret industry, the inherent glamor, the utter gall—was rock ‘n’ roll.

FYI sign

Thursday, October 11, 2007

In late September, as Paris Fashion Week was just beginning, the Folsom Street Fair was well under way in San Francisco, where each year about 100,000 kinky gay folks from all over the planet gather to share each other's company—and sometimes each other. The shit's brazen, says Cesar Padilla...

I was walking at the intersection of Dolores and 16th Street with my boyfriend, Mat, when a 60ish-year-old fellow passed by. He sported a loose tank top made of thin, well-loved strips of fabric and a pair of super skimpy jogging shorts that barely concealed a raging hard-on. It reminded me what the Folsom Street Fair is all about. FREEDOM! An exhibitionist's tumescent dream cum true, the fair has it all: fetishists galore, naked daddies, guys beating off in broad daylight, games of porn-star Twister, cocksucking, leather-worshipping German trash, goth breeder couples straight from shopping at their local Hot Topic, bears of all kinds (A bears, muscle bears, baby bears), smooths, gym queens, roids, nellatrons, ladies, mumsies, relics, uniforms, rockers, showboats, fat camp, starch queens, scent queens, product queens, popper queens, tweakers, straight-acting, face-downs, fisters, gawkers, stalkers, and those that like to be at the end of a dog leash. And me and Mat.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Carolina Overmeer fetishizes...

Louis Vuitton took so long to start that, at one point, Catherine Deneuve asked for a glass of water, Courtney Love lit a cigarette and, as usual, photographers hollered and generally made asses of themselves. Everyone was asking, "What's going on with Marc Jacobs?" Suddenly, finally, the lights went off and a line of very sexy nurses (many of the supermodel ilk who no longer do the catwalk: Naomi Campbell, Nadja Auermann, Eva Herzigova, etc.) walked out in transparent uniforms, with mouths covered in black lace and hands on colorful bags by American artist Richard Prince, Vuitton's chosen collaborator of the season.

Under a ceiling covered with the kind of pulp-fiction covers for which Prince is famous, and with a soundtrack mixed by Daft Punk, Jacobs presented his unique brand of chic, though much more sensual and provocative this time: fitted dresses, pencil skirts, snug sweaters in cashmere and lurex—mixed with transparent nylon coats and gloves. Even better than the pieces, however, was the magnificent styling, the way colors and accessories were put together, suggesting the right proportions for each look. The cherry on the cake, as usual, were the bags, which, thanks to Prince, were particularly good this season. Some had a shiny vernis finish, while others other had a corroded effect reminiscent of the artist that obscured the LV monogram.

On the way backstage, I saw Hilary Alexander, who said, like other editors, she was still deliberating her impressions of the collection. I risk to say critics will come to think there was not enough fashion in the clothes, no big new ideas or proposals in the way of shape or silhouette. The public, though, will surely love it, at least judging from the huge crowd of reporters that surrounded Jacobs after the show. At one point, I saw him sweat, choke and ask for a glass of water, just like the Belle du Jour herself.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Pleasure of His Company

Last night was the French premiere of Lagerfeld Confidentiel, the first documentary about the Kaiser made, miraculously, with his participation. (There have been many attempts before Rodolphe Marconi, the young director, was inexplicably able to twist Lagerfeld's heavily accessorized arm.) The film is more than a little rough around the edges, but it will prove to any non-initiate that nobody pokes holes in the prolific designer as well as he himself. Sure, the septuagenarian slings the wit and wisdom faster than a double-c bullet, zips around France and Monaco on his private jet, and laps up the flirtatious flattery of hungry young male models and underlings, but it's he, the star, who enjoys the performance that is his life more than anyone. If you attended the premiere, as I did, you'd have seen Lagerfeld smack in the center of the viewing audience, giggling at his every bon mot. One of the most agreeably surreal aspects of the film is how self-aware and self-mocking Lagerfeld turns out to be. He's obviously not only in on the joke, but finds it funnier than anyone.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What So Proudly We Hail

Carolina Overmeer reports...

Isabelle Adjani, Claudia Schiffer, Lily Allen, Kirsten Dunst and Courtney Love were among the stars who came out to see the Chanel show yesterday morning, in step with the stars-and-stripes theme of the collection. With so much wattage, buyers and press would barely have had seats if the arena at the Grand Palais weren't so huge. Bigger still was the number of trends Karl Lagerfeld presented in the sportswear-inspired spring collection (not to mention the enormous and distracting black lace-covered block occupying most of the square catwalk, where models would enter and exit). Called Nights of Summer, the show started with a spectacular array of denims, followed by an homage to the American flag with swimwear, baggy pants, red-and-white striped jackets and chiffon star-printed jumpsuits (which seem to be everywhere this season). Especially clever were ankle bracelets cinching wide legs; those who've seen the new public bicycles in Paris know how useful they will be next summer. Less successful were chains and grommets, perhaps inspired by sailing, that seemed heavy on otherwise beautiful dresses. As always, the best part of a Chanel collection are the elegant, if safe, pieces. Here, they came as plain white looks, particularly a trench dress, and evening pieces in organza (Prada, Marc Jacobs and Jil Sander also employed the sheer fabric), worn with large pearl earrings. In all, no big trend-setting, but plenty to get patriotic about.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Haidee Findlay-Levin reports...

Today I (almost) took a day out from the shows and found myself consumed instead with a photo shoot. I camped out at the Hotel Crillon, where every few hours a beautiful "new face" would drop by and escape her exhausting show and fitting schedule. We saw Karlie (who had a Gucci exclusive in Milan), Dasha (who I later spotted posing at Veronique Leroy's gorgeous installation at the Petit Palais), Behati (a totally adorable fellow South African who I hadn't had the pleasure of working with before) and Masha, fresh off the cover of the new Numero. I must admit it was hard to jump back into looking at fall clothes after being mesmerized by all things spring for the last few days.

I barely made it to Haider Ackermann at the end of the day, but was happy to see his elegant collection. Lots of dulled lamé dressing—gown coats, double-layered negligee dresses, pyjama pants—and the palest gray caftan that was the color of 90's supermodel Kristen McMenamy's hair, who walked the Givenchy show last night. Both beautiful.

Veronique Leroy was next on the agenda and I was delighted not to have missed one of the most underrated designers in Paris—or anywhere, for that matter. One stylist commented that she would have been a great replacement for Phoebe Philo at Chloé. With her talent, femininity and healthy dose of irony, it could have been a wonderful collaboration. She all but owns the jumpsuit, has been reviving aspects of the 80s practically since 1990 and this season managed to make hotpants with suspenders in yellow terrycloth! She was the first to show us sky-high platforms and this season, in black or white, they got an inch or two higher. No wonder the show was an installation.

Last stop: Yves Saint Laurent. It was running incredibly late, which gave me time to catch up with Gene Crell from Japanese and Korean Vogue. Gene is the best person to pass the time with, but be sure you have plenty of it! He is a marvelous historian and storyteller. We were soon joined by Bill Cunningham of the New York Times, so I was immediately taken on a journey through fashion history. Bill was the only person to identify the rectangular shoulder pads of my new Margiela jacket and he wasted no time in giving me the history of Thierry Mugler's tailoring techniques. I wouldn't dare guess Bill's age, but Gene, 62 and a surf buddy of Stefano Pilati, admitted his jacket "was from the Eisenhower era" and he didn't even call it vintage. I just love that.

You know you've arrived when you (or Stefano Pilati, that is) show at the spectacular Grand Palais, and judging by the crowd (everyone from Catherine Deneuve to Courtney Love, Hussein Chalayan to Dita von Teese), Pilati certainly has. Hopefully his ego doesn't become as inflated as the enormous light balloons that illuminated the space—a sure sign that he was taking a classic Parisian label and moving it further into the 21st century.

The clothes were beautifully cut and quite spare, at least compared to his earliest outings for YSL. There was nothing superfluous. All neutral colors, other than a splash of purple or mauve, which came with the most incredible metallic pink shoes. And no prints, save for a splash of metallic stars on a single white dress. He spliced graphic tailoring with mirrored tops and details that seemed very Paco Rabanne. Wide, slightly cropped and belted trousers felt very YSL, especially suspended above stilettos almost as high as those balloons. They could require some lessons in walking, as well as some serious reflexology when they come off.

Oh, that reminds of the rejuvenating massage I have scheduled for later at the fantastic new Andrée Putman-designed Anne Fontaine Spa. Just the idea of being horizontal is relaxing me already.

- Haidee Findlay-Levin

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Haidee Findlay-Levin warms up to the cold shoulder...

While waiting for the Givenchy show to start today, I couldn't help but notice (well, how could I not?) the unmistakable Anna Piaggi of Italian Vogue, sporting black-and-white, prison-stripe leggings—among a million other things. She was with her show companion, London designer Gareth Pugh, who was also dressed in prison stripes, but head-to-toe, in his case. What a fantastic image! I couldn't help but wonder if they planned it. Then Gareth reminded me of the Rick Owens show (one of my faves of the week) and that he, too, seemed to have a convict moment, albeit softer, with neutral stripes in cascades of chiffon contrasting beautifully with more structured jackets and dresses. I was just about to record the graphic pairing of stripes when the music came up (a fantastic mix by the super-talented and charming Frederic Sanchez) and the first model and Givenchy muse Maria Carla Boscone walked right across my photo op! And wearing giant black-and-white polka dots, no less! The vision of dots on stripes is forever recorded in my mind—until it resurfaces in one of my photo shoots.

Now back to Givenchy, a show that deftly articulated that onetime fashion faux pas, the one-shoulder dress, or what I call The Cold Shoulder. This week it cropped up in various places and permutions, at Karl Lagerfeld this morning and later at Costume National, where we were transported to India and saw an Ashram-chic version or two. At Gaspard Yurkievich, I saw a one-sleeved cape dress, if that's possible. Junya Watanabe did wonders with bolts of Liberty and Laura Ashley prints all thrown over one shoulder—apparently African-style. But in the deft hands of Riccardo Tisci, chez Givenchy, I saw the ultimate one-shouldered dresses, super strong and sexy leather versions that fit on the shoulder like a perfectly formed gun holster. By the time I saw his oversized bumbags and motorcycle bags with rivets the size of a large hoop earring, he could have convinced me of anything. I'm ready to put my best shoulder forward.

- Haidee Findlay-Levin

High Noten

Who better to cover Dries Van Noten's tropical spring collection than Vogue Brazil columnist Carolina Overmeer?...

In typically contradictory style, Dries Van Noten held his vibrant spring collection in a dark concrete room of the Grand Palais (upside: nobody could scope out who was where in the front row) and cranked up the Balinese-Kecak soundtrack to eardrum-thumping levels (upside: it prevented distracting comments). Not that the Belgian designer needed such artifices to keep our full attention on the catwalk—especially not this season, possibly his best ever.

The collection was all about the beautiful large-scale prints injected into every look, making simple tops and silk pants seem fresh and bold—not to mention perfectly cut. He juxtaposed colors and motifs from tropical Indonesian flora, recalling the African penchant for mixing patterns, as seen in the work of photographer Seidu Keita. Even high heels saw their share of prints. And the designer's first foray into jewelry was just as fantastic. Nothing fits the season's eye-catching mood better than a pair of long Asian silver bracelets or a heavy amethyst necklace. These will sell. I will buy. My mom will, too.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Rules Schmules

Haidee Findlay-Levin Commes alive in Paris...

Remember when we were told never to mix red with pink or brown with blue, and when we wore things right side up and right side out? Well, all such rules were thrown out the window long ago, thanks in large part to Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons—and never more so than with her spring collection, a show that had no logical beginning or end, but moved in a somewhat circular progression, with music that seemed to run backward.

Just imagine two vivid pink crinolines at once, one suspended from the other, topped with a cobalt blue nylon coat emblazoned with African barbershop prints, with ruffles cascading from the hood. Add bright yellow mesh socks to painted low-wedge sandals and you begin to get the idea. No, not of the show, but of one outfit.

And what sort of hair and make-up did Rei suggest for these highly flammable (and probably not particularly breathable) summer outfits that looked as if toy dolls half-swapped clothes during the night and fell asleep on the other half? Why not some white clown smears with bright pink cheeks and carrot-colored hair? I could go on; each outfit is more outrageous and fantastic than the next. It's in moments like this that I see more artistic genius than any million-dollar diamond skull. It's for moments like this that I come to Paris Fashion Week.

- Haidee Findlay-Levin

Air Supply

Haidee Findlay-Levin rides the wind...

I ventured over to the Issey Miyake show to see what they would do now that designer Naoki Takizawa has left to show his own collections in New York, though still under the Miyake umbrella. I had heard that Nicola Formichetti of Dazed and Confused was styling it, so I was extra curious.

On entering we were confronted by a huge yellow duct that looked like the inside of a giant vacuum cleaner. In a way, it was. Inspired by wind, Dai Fujiwara (Miyake's new designer) collaborated with Dyson, the maker of that little yellow wonder machine, the bagless vacuum cleaner. As such, the tunnel was a kind of wind installation by James Dyson himself that branched out into still more yellow wind tunnels, all gyrating and blowing air into the voluminous clothes as models walked by. (We're told the Miyake team dismantled a Dyson vacuum to better understand how it moves air.)

The clothes themselves were a welcome return to the technical fabric innovations that Miyake is famous for: huge pleated cocoon-shaped and origami dresses in candy colors, brightly printed rain ponchos and, continuing the Dyson collaboration, parachute-like pieces that appeared to be searching for their rightful landing spot. I couldn't help but sense that a Miyake revival could be on the way.

- Haidee Findlay-Levin

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Eyes of Mars

Stylist Haidee Findlay-Levin falls for the specs appeal of Paris...

For the distances we schlep during Paris Fashion Week, we should be awarded air miles—or fashion miles, redeemable at a boutique of our choice. Double miles for attending the shows of obscure newbies or old-timers who set up on the periphery of the city. Well, fashion miles aren't going to happen, but it certainly won't stop my wanderlust.

Besides, the rewards really add up when those dots on the map start to connect and you sense a trend. The eyewear fanatic I am, I get a particular rush when I witness a cool or innovative pair of glasses. The first such pair for spring came from my dear friend Bernhard Willhelm, who showed in the old Purple Institute. His girls were whited out (thanks to the airbrush work of Ferida for Uslu Airlines—ooh, triple points?) and suspended in wooden crates with air bubble packaging. Wearing colorful and madcap dragcar-racing inspired clothes, a few sported oversized, nose-shielding sun visors, like the one seen here. (This idea of protection resurfaced on fantastic stack-heel metallic boots complete with a safety warning.) The spec-tacular visors, a collaboration between Bernhard and Linda Farrow Eyewear that took two seasons to develop, reminded me of the 60's variety—also complete with molded noseguards—from eyewear designer extraordinaire Oliver Goldsmith, a Brit who, with all the Michael Kane look-a-likes walking around, seems to be having a moment.

Later, Undercover took us on a trip that exended beyond Paris. We were greeted with a black lei—with a tag that read "Strange Summer"—draped around each of our necks and a thunderstorm soundtrack that seemed to set the stage for some macabre aloha collection. On the contrary, out walked girls in bikinis and backpacks (à la Prada a few seasons ago, especially when one model dragged a suitcase)—and, again, visors. But this time they were narrow wrap-arounds that almost looked homemade, or like working prototypes. (Apparently they couldn't wait two seasons!) I loved the makeshift appeal, especially when they were teamed with terrycloth sweatshirts and belted coats. The sportier the clothes, the more outlandish the eyewear, ending with an extremely thin cat-eye pair so real they could have been actual cat eyes. By now I was cursing my need for prescription lenses as I wanted to own them instantly.

I love how Martin Margiela develops an idea over several seasons, taking it to its extreme before doing a 360. For him and his maison, I'd travel to outer space, but his show took us there anyway, with shoulders so wide they made the runway look narrow. I, however, was fixated on the eyewear. Known to negate his models' eyes with makeup, bangs or even, in his look books, a magic marker, Margiela sent out the first girl in black sleeker-than-sleek wrap visor glasses—a single gesture and singular vision. I was weak! The visor reappeared throughout the show, sometimes clear with a shadowy echo of gray or mauve makeup. For spring, the eyes of the Margiela girl will be protected from the elements and the envious. On a clear day she will see forever.

- Haidee Findlay-Levin