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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sumo Wrestling

So hefty was Sumo, the behemoth Helmut Newton book published ten years ago by Taschen, that it came with its own custom-designed Philippe Starck stand. The titanic tome—edited by the photog's wife, the great June Newton—immediately became a symbol of its status-obsessed time, as requisite a display of cultivated wealth as a Poggenpohl kitchen and a high thread count. To commemorate the anniversary, the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin will show all 394 photographs beginning June 4, while the publisher is set to release a more humanely sized edition for aficionados of the late lensman's kinky glamour.

—Suleman Anaya

Benedikt Taschen & Helmut Newton, 2000

Villa d'Este, Lake Como, Italy 1975

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Going In Seine

Monday night we skipped the Met Ball and headed straight to the after-parties. This year the après-musée hotspot was the chicest catacomb in town, the Mercer Hotel's underground SubMercer bar, where Rodarte held its fine and raucous post-ball soirée. As the open bar flowed freely, Kirsten Dunst, Brooke Shields, Coco Rocha, Marisa Tomei and Francesco Vezzoli, among other influential and/or genetically gifted guests, danced, drank and caroused late into the night.

We'll remember many exchanges from the Mulleavy sisters' fantastic little fête, but none so much as this nugget from Olivier Theyskens: "The parties tonight are great, but they don't compare to three days ago, when I sat by the Seine on my own and smoked cigarillos. It's my favorite thing in the world. I smoke this brand La Paz—they're cheap but it's what I always buy. And then, I peed into the Seine. It's the best thing I did all week." On that strangely sexy note we left the increasingly steamy basement boîte. Just in time, too, as we barely missed Kiefer Sutherland's crazy headbutting tantrum.

—Suleman Anaya

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dark Star

Before Tilda there was Andrew. That's just one takeaway from spending a few hours with the absorbing early films of Derek Jarman. Before he went on to make feature-length ruminations on beauty, homoeroticism and death (Caravaggio, Blue), the experimental British filmmaker, who himself died of AIDS in 1994, broached the same heavy themes in short works shot in the grainy, washed-out warmth of Super 8 film.

The X initiative, a year-long series of quality art programming housed in the space formerly occupied by Dia:Chelsea, is screening these rare gems on three floors, offering a perfect Saturday afternoon antidote of artsy malaise to the annoying chirpiness that befalls the city in spring. Poetic, cryptic and relentlessly melancholy (classical music helps set the tone), the nearly twenty films range from the macabre pretty-boy ballet of "Death Dance" to the high-camp artifice of "Andrew Logan Kisses the Glitterati," featuring a likely Jarman lover playing dress-up with a blasé coterie of friends. In other films, the eye is sated with images of Victorian boathouses, Stonehenge-like formations, mirrors, rituals and the distorted face of Genesis P-Orridge, frontman of cult industrial band Throbbing Gristle.

There's notable fashion too. Entire sequences recall a Helmut Newton shoot, while the getups for said dress-up party seem lifted straight out of a Saint Laurent collection circa 1975. Lovers of avant-garde sadness had better hurry though; the films are on view through the end of the month only.

—Suleman Anaya

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New York Fashion Week: Rodarte

The usually serene Gagosian gallery in far west Chelsea resembled a circus yesterday as the Mulleavy sisters showed their fall Rodarte collection to a packed house. Seconds after the signal was given to start the show, Purple's Olivier Zahm could be seen running to his seat next to Milla Jovovich, while some front-rowers who arrived late were asked to stand. One of these, an allegedly pregnant lady-who-lunches type, wasn't having it and caused a little stir as she scrambled, like a blowed-out hen in heat, for the nearest empty seat.

The collection? A knock-out. Gone are Rodarte's romantic days of wispy ruffles and folksy appliqués. The new collection is unabashedly tough and forward-looking. A succession of Ghesquièrian minidresses came out paired with S&M-y boots by Nicholas Kirkwood that seemed to go all the way up to the lady business. With its crinkled fabrics and tattered leathers shot through with silver, copper and lamé, each dress was a little work of art, almost worthy of the Hiroshi Sugimoto works that hung in the same room until Saturday.

After the show, the big question—for me, at least—wasn't what Kirsten Dunst thought of it or how Milla looked so ravishing, but what mysterious attendee came and left in a gorgeous emerald-green, chauffeured Bentley? This I pondered as I, like the rest of us ordinary folk, hailed my sad little yellow cab.

—Suleman Anaya


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nose Candy

Other than the venom-green walls of the elevator, color was scarce among the fashion set that gathered at the New Museum for the launch of Six Scents. Otherwise, with the olfactory collaboration between Seven New York, perfume factory Symrise and designers Gareth Pugh, Bernhard Willhelm, Preen, Jeremy Scott, Cosmic Wonder and Alexandre Herchcovitch wafting through the space, it might have been sensory overdose.

Let's just state for the record that the fragrances smell great. For his own take, I tracked down Seven's Joseph Quartana, who curated the designer list. Mostly he seemed relieved to have finally finished the store's first foray into the esoteric world of molecules, calling the project a "cherry-popper." Okay, and how has the response to the eaux de toilette been so far? The early winners are Preen and Gareth Pugh, who happened to be hosting the soiree, so I asked him what his favorite smell in the world was and if it had inspired his creation. His response was touchingly disarming: "Yes, that would be the smell of my boyfriend Carson's hair." Aww.

I then caught up with my old friend and downtown habitué Sophia Lamar, looking fantastic in an aubergine frock and shredded shoes of her own creation (now that's a positive recessionist measure). I asked her if she had a signature scent. Of course she does; she's forever been wearing Alexandra de Markoff perfume oil, which she mixes with Cacharel Pour Homme—you know, for that androgynous touch.

—Suleman Anaya

As Four's Gabi & Joseph Quartana

Gareth Pugh & Carson

The MisShapes

photos Eddie Newton/Stylesightings.com

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Male Pattern

By Suleman Anaya...

The art world A-list slummed it to the Bowery last Tuesday for the New Museum's opening of "Live Forever," the mid-career survey of artist Elizabeth Peyton, she of velvety little canvases of pale male beauties. Stephanie Seymour, Maurizio Cattalan, Kiki Smith and John Currin, with his sexy sculptress wife Rachel Feinstein, were among the notables who paid their respects as they imbibed a range of Thai libations (Thaibations?).

Most of us looked at the art first, which, as ever, split observers into two camps: those who loved it and those who considered it little more than precious trifle. We took it for what it was, realizing we'll never get over Kurt Cobain and admiring how Peyton has, over time, found an effective way to depict fashion, sometimes by just implying a pattern or silhouette, yet one that looks like something you know you've seen walking around Nolita.

Of course, everyone wanted to be on the top floor, with its terrace and stunning views—by far the best thing about the museum's new digs. Getting there, however, proved a little Sisyphean, as waiting for the elevator can take up half of your night. Thank goodness for Marc Jacobs, who made up for it by painting one of the sweeter tableaux of the night as we rode down together. Dressed in a three-piece pinstriped Bottega suit and tall man-heels, with his hair greased back, he looked every bit the Latin Lover, even holding hands with one, his hunky Brazilian boyfriend Lorenzo Martone.

Elizabeth Peyton, Marc Jacobs & Lorenzo Martone

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Friday, September 12, 2008

New York Fashion Week: Thom Browne & Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Suleman Anaya is entertained and educated...

The day after Roger Federer won the U.S. Open, it seemed tennis had been on the mind of Thom Browne all along. For his spring collection, a grassy mini-court was planted in the Exit Art space on Tenth Avenue, and the Grand Slam theme was everywhere, from the racquet prints seen throughout to the overgrown ball-boy looks that opened the show. About that show: It's hard to wrap one's head around a Browne collection. Is it entertaining? Endlessly. You chuckle, gasp and oooh. Is it the future of menswear? That's trickier and a little disturbing to answer. While it's hard to imagine anyone other than a handful of fashion-obsessed gay men showing up to work in any of Thom's getups, it's refreshing to see a designer live out his outlandish fantasies when nearly everyone else plays it safe. And that subversive undercurrent we have come to appreciate from the designer prevailed again this season, in touches like white-painted toenails and trousers worn hip-hop style with perky boxer-clad bums. The pièce de résistance? Well, there were a couple. A peplumed silver suit with a tutu-esque petticoat made from oodles of tulle certainly qualifies, a kind of descendant of Nicolas Ghesquière's fall '06 collection for Balenciaga. And of course the finale wedding dress that by now everyone's heard about. Bizarrely, this finale was set to Richard Strauss' bombastic Zarathustra, which then faded into the title song from the Sound of Music. Okay, so the hills are alive, but why is it that you always leave a Thom Browne show feeling horny and confused?

On the other end of the spectrum, stimulating minds rather than loins, was yesterday's Slow and Steady Wins the Race presentation at Saatchi & Saatchi gallery. In a week where, for half of the shows, you might as well have checked your brains at the door, you can count on S&SWTR founder and designer Mary Ping to deliver something cerebral. This time, she collaborated with young local architecture firm Bureau V to create an installation called Perfume Counter / Department Store / Wedding Dress. The result, sort of a stripped down proto-Barneys, is worth the trek to Hudson Street near Houston—the opening reception was a high-point way to end my fashion week. The installation's booths showcase a summary of the label's seven years with highlights from all the collections to date, including sunglasses, tuxedo jackets, shoes and even housewares, all priced—as always with Slow & Steady—at a symbolic $100. I fell in love with the perfume counter, filled with 100 exquisite and rare vintage perfume bottles that Mary has collected, some of them found on eBay. I got a personal tour of the "store" from the designer, cute as ever in a cream Margiela blazer that made my mouth water (the two share a penchant for de- and re-constructing garments). She told me about the exhaustive research that went into the creation of a wedding dress on display, also—unbelievably—priced at $100 and stunning in its simplicity. She also lamented the New York Public Library's limited holdings when it comes to the anthropological history of bridalwear (Martha Stewart-type tomes, on the other hand, are plentiful) and how, in medieval times, brides wore blue because it was the color of purity. Who knew? I left the gallery enlightened, and it was hard not to think that Thom's man-bride had been a mere tease compared to Mary's intellectual hand-job.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New York Fashion Week: Marc Jacobs

Suleman Anaya...

Just when your blasé self thinks you're done with New York Fashion Week, that nothing can make you care anymore, Marc Jacobs manages to bring out that childlike excitement you felt at your first fashion show (for me, a Marc show sometime during the reign of Brazilian models). Granted, it's hard not to fall for the outsize pageantry, the hulking concrete carcass of the Armory and the surreal experience of brushing knees with airbrushed humans—allegedly real blood runs through them—with names like Lopez and Lakshmi. Then there's the music. Marc goes for grand tunes that would be corny coming from anyone else: Pachelbel's canon and Ravel's Bolero in recent seasons and, last night, the brassy swoon of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. But none of the over-the-top circumstances would matter if the clothes weren't strange, smart, new and, let's just say it, gorgeous. Again.

This season it appeared as if his imagination had gone to China and back by way of the Wild West, as prairie blouses with pagoda shoulders emerged on the runway on top of bustled skirts that looked like upside-down garbage bags, all brilliantly tied together like some oriental binding technique. (Said runway, by the way, was a clever maze of mirrors conceived by set designer and regular Marc collaborator Stefan Beckman.) All those wrapped layers, yards of lurex and silk in deep iridescent colors made me think of candy, or jewels—maybe candyjewels. Accessories, as usual, bordered on deranged; look for bathing caps on the streets of Tokyo come March. Bottom line is, for ten minutes, Marc had me in fashion nirvana. And in an instant, even the silly nicotine, gym-obsessed antics described in that recent New Yorker profile were forgiven. Marc is a genius, so let him be ridiculously muscled and pretend to be tacky if that's what makes him happy these days.

Once I regained my composure, I headed backstage with the adorable John Cameron Mitchell and his scrumptious buddy, film star Michael Pitt. I asked John, who knows a thing or two about gender-bending, which of the 53 looks he'd pick to crossdress in. He said he doesn't do drag anymore, but that he'd probably choose a billowy yellow and blue summer dress that both he and Pitt loved. Really? It made me think of a silly German animated series for kids called Biene Maya—or Maya the Bee. But John loved it because the colors were the same as the Swedish flag and because he likes "solids and geometry." Who knew the man who gave us the delicious riot of Hedwig is secretly a sucker for order? Pitt just nodded in tacit straight-guy (and tipsy) approval.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

That Was Me on the Corner

A hipster lover's delight spilled out on to the corner of Bowery and Bond Street last Thursday when Gregory Rogan hosted buddy Michael Stipe's first-ever solo art show, Relics, at his new shop. Music, art, film, fiction and fashion worlds coalesced as famous friends—Jake Paltrow, Jeff Koons, Chris Martin, Douglas Coupland—came out to support the R.E.M. frontman. But because of the tropical temperature inside the all-black store, the real party took place in front of the cream-colored cast-iron gem of a building, which was chosen, Rogan told us, "because it's where several neighborhoods meet, so it doesn't fit neatly into one box. Just like me. I am not very good as a fashion designer, I am reluctant to be an artist." He then compared the hood to Istanbul, the only city in the world to sit on two continents. So the man is not only talented, but also modest, well-traveled and poetic. We so want to hang out with him. Oh, he also professed his love for Raf Simons and Martin Margiela, two of our own favorites. Total compatibility. Yet it's different with genius musicians, whose charm doesn't always come as easily. When asked whether there was any nostalgic element to his artwork (once-important but now-obsolete artifacts such as cassette tapes, Polaroid cameras and books cast in bronze), a perfectly polite Stipe was unequivocal: "I despise nostalgia. If you listen to our work you notice I'm much more about sentimentality." Okay, my bad, can we go to Istanbul now?

Gregory Rogan and Michael Stipe

bronzed cassettes

P.S.1 curator Klaus Biesenbach & Terence Koh, Polaroid cameras, Rogan Bouwerie store

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Republican Party

Last week, New York's fashionable, beautiful, moneyed and hip (and the odd lucky duck) united at Beatrice Inn to celebrate the beginning of summer, courtesy of West Coast jeans-makers Rock & Republic. LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy was on deck duty as a generous all-night open bar fueled a crowd that included gorgeous film scion Eva Amurri, jewelry designer Philip Crangi, rage-prone May Andersen and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler. Le Tigre's JD Samson and Australian indie cutie Sia were by far the coolest couple in the room (and so smitten it hurt to watch), while Kirsten Dunst and Andre Balazs showed up past midnight, proving that Beatrice is still a hot boîte. Between refills and dancing to everything from the Beatles to M.I.A., we chatted with ever-sweet Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, the denim brand's art director who just finished its fall campaign featuring her brother, Vladimir...

Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, her BF Magnus Berger & R&R's Andrea Bernholtz / James Murphy

Elite model Harley Viera-Newton / May Andersen

How was it to work with your brother? Did you like bossing him around?
Ha! It's always fun to boss your brother around, but that wasn't the reason I suggested and cast him as a model. Actually, I wasn't going to use a male model unless he was someone authentic with a rock look. Vladimir seemed perfect. He's not a model anymore, but still has enough experience to do a great job, and he has the right look and attitude. I didn't have to boss him around. I just wanted him to be himself.

We assume you, like everyone, loves jeans. How many pairs do you have?
I actually don't have so many. But there is one favorite pair I've owned for more than ten years. It's a pair of rough A.P.C. jeans and I would never wash them, just dry clean so they would keep the perfect color and shape. After a while, they fit me so perfectly that it looked like they were molded onto my body. But stupidly, I decided it was time to put them in the washing machine and they lost their perfect shape and color. I still own them though. They're one of my classics that I hope to fit back into one day.

What's your favorite way to wear jeans?
Jeans are meant to be casual clothes. I used to like them only with heels because they make a better silhouette. But I also like them with a simple T-shirt or a men's shirt—nothing over-the-top. I like the boyish side of wearing denim.

What would you like to bring to Rock & Republic? Does your French background inform your work?
Rock & Republic is an L.A.-based brand, and I think it's very important for me to keep this in mind. However, I think it was important to bring the French touch, plus the New York touch, since this is where I am based. I always thought Rock & Republic was a great name and I really wanted to push the image in a tougher yet glamourous direction so that it would reflect its name better. I think it's the mix of these three very different influences that allowed us to create such a strong campaign. The team on the shoot was half Californian, with photographer Mark Segal and stylist Keegan Singh, and half European living in New York. So it was a great mix.

What are your plans for summer?
I think I will go to Ibiza in August, for the third year in a row. It will be a real retreat—no clubbing or techno music, just reading, eating and relaxing. It sounds quite boring, but I always feel the best when I return from there.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

New York Fashion Week: Marc Jacobs

A shoeless Suleman Anaya hoofs it to Marc Jacobs...

Okay, I almost missed the show. Expecting it to start on time after the transatlantic outcry over last season's two-hour delay, I was traveling well on schedule when the heel came off my beloved vintage Redwings. Horror of horrors! But passion overrode panic and I decide to brave it. After all, a Marc show can't be missed simply because of a dumb boot. So, mortified, I entered the Armory hoping the assembled beau-monde wouldn't notice my shuffling gait, only to be caught in a flurry of flashlights. Thankfully, the paps weren't trying to capture my mishap for the "What Was He Thinking?" section of The Star; they were going crazy over Victoria Beckham in a sequined burgundy sheath. Then, in what seemed to be an unspoken accord between us, Posh struck a few mechanical iterations of her freaky sexbot pose while I discreetly minced beside her, dangling sole in tow. She really is a doll.

Because of the contretemps, by the time I was finally inside, security guards weren't letting people to their assigned seats—Marc wanted the show to start. So I grabbed a spot at the bottom of the bleachers right by the comely feet of Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, who smiled and graciously made room for my little derriere. (Interesting that Mlle JRR wasn't sitting in one of the VIP booths with Maman.) At least I didn't get stuck behind the bleachers like so many others, who thus totally missed the show.

Seated inside, the first thing I noticed was that everything looked very different from previous seasons. For starters, there was no runway. Missing, too, was the Met-worthy staging we've become accustomed to. Instead, the place looked like a cross between a rock venue and an old-school nightclub, with a gargantuan stage, concert lighting and tall scaffolding. Flanking the stage were black leather booths filled with the usual suspects: the Bensimons, the Baileys and the Cunninghams of the world, Marc's buddies Debbie Harry and John Currin, the obligatory indie hollywood contingent (Selma, Vincent) and this season's specimen of pop detritus (remember Lil' Kim?): K-Fed!

The clothes. Well, yes, like everyone and her PA has told you, the show started on time. At about 7:20, Sonic Youth started playing and out came the models. You couldn't miss that in a complete reversal from last season's brainy sex theme, the models were all wrapped in cocoony silhouettes in what looked like pastels. Pastels? Yes, there actually was a baby blue cashmere coat. Also on parade were burka-like headscarves, funny triangular hats, mad puffy headbands (thanks to the genius of Stephen Jones) and incredible lamé pantsuits. It was all very covered-up and cut away from the body.

It wasn't even 7:40 when the show ended and discussion shifted to the merits of the collection. As usual the audience was split into two extreme groups: "loved it" and" hated it," with no room for measured opinions. Others debated whether or not to join Marc at his after-party, where M.I.A. was slated to DJ, or head to the Jeremy Scott shindig at Mansion. Alas, for me it was time to jump in a cab home with my sad broken boot, which, by the way, nobody seems to have noticed.

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