Archive for February 2012

Christian Dior

Christian Dior Designer: On the Doorstep?

The black and white, filmic Christian Dior haute couture show on Monday marked nearly a year since John Galliano left the brand in disgrace.

But Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed that there would be no announcement about a new designer this week and that the “suspense” would continue.

After a rigorous, correct and undeniably “Dior” show, this question must be asked: Is the elusive successor on the doorstep?

The collection by Bill Gaytten, Mr. Galliano’s right hand for his entire career, was way ahead of the previous couture show, which was a romp that looked as if it had been done by a bunch of art college kids.

This version was technically persuasive: an x-ray image of the essence of Dior, from the famous Bar Jacket, sleek and chic in black alligator, to romantic dresses, light as the proverbial feather. One had a full skirt printed with Christian Dior’s maxim, defining “elegance” as the right combination of crucial factors, including “naturalness and simplicity.”

Neither was Mr. Galliano’s forte and most fashion folk feel that the former designer would, in any case, have had to calm his excess to take the brand ahead.

In every sense, this show on the first day of the brief couture season was Dior Light. There was not much personality or charm, yet a careful rendition of the codes of the house, including houndstooth check created with embroidered beading. The lush, full skirts, which shocked the world in 1947, would have given those post-war women the vapors if the skirts had shifted transparently over the legs, as in this 2012 summer show.

Yet this couture collection was surely client-friendly (even if that means asking for a silk lining.)

“I loved the gray one — the third one,” chorused the front-row guests Cameron Diaz and Bar Refaeli, referring to full-skirted dresses, cinched at the waist and offered first in white and then black.

That cinematic effect — what Mr. Gaytten called “like playing with the photocopier” — both suggested a graceful Grace Kelly world and summed up the positive/negative qualities of the show: It was technically a model of perfection with some exceptional effects, like sequins trapped against the breasts, but it was emotionally barren.

And yet with other projects, like the graphic, colorful accessories produced by Delphine Arnault working with the Berlin artist Anselm Reyle, could Dior use a solid, maybe even stolid, couture collection as a backdrop?

Other houses, like Gucci, have decided that internal promotion can work as well as bringing in an outside designer. And if the rumors are true that seven designers already approached have either been turned down or backed away, Mr. Gaytten himself, trained in couture, might be the best person to drink and digest the poisoned chalice.

Donatella Versace brought her Atelier Versace collection back to Paris with panache. Sexy, colorful, gleaming with metal and twinkling with ceramic paillettes, the dresses were as defined for the red carpet as for the golden stairway down which the models teetered.

The sensational gowns worn by Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman at the Golden Globes were just a foretaste of this new collection, which Ms. Versace said was destined for a fresh, young couture clientele, often from Russia.

“People have not stopped dreaming,” the designer said, to justify this extravagance during economic turmoil.

Never has a collection been better described as a “body of work.” It seemed that Ms. Versace’s eyes were always on the womanly curves, which she caressed with curving metal at the hips or displayed through strips of hand-embroidered lace running from waist to ankle. When legs were in view, three separate parts of a sandal climbed from instep to knees. The actress Abbie Cornish could not take her eyes off the tomato-red slither of a dress or a romper suit in vivid yellow.

It was a Versace tour de force that came, said the designer, as a reaction to her H&M collaboration’s appeal to young clients. But don’t count on finding a silver mermaid dress in the fast-fashion stores.

The precise tailoring of Bouchra Jarrar , softened this season with fur collars and wisps of silk, confirm her position as a woman-for-women designer.

Made-to-order tailoring, which is having such a boost with male clients, is mostly left out of current couture. But Ms. Jarrar aims to carry forward the tradition, using slim, firm lines in a collection that might suit a stylish female executive rather than an oligarch’s wife.

Using fabrics like simple gray flannel or denim blue wool, but softening the coat or jacket with fur at the neck, Ms. Jarrar sent out tailored pants — perhaps adding a leather harness to give the outfit some fizz. Silken dresses in face-powder colors looked soft and pretty but the strength was in the streamlined daywear tinged with turquoise and green.

One might have craved a dash of madness but the elegant proportions were an admirable example of client friendly couture.

Quoting Marcel Proust is always a dangerous game for a designer — especially when the translation of a phrase about “only women who do not know how to dress are afraid of colors” was headed: “Color Therapy.”

In the hands of the young designer Alexis Mabille , that came down to the fuchsia pink duchess satin gown that opened the show with a matching, mighty flower hat and makeup. When that outfit was followed by oxblood, coral, or blue, with face to suit, the effect was distracting.

Yet, at his simplest, Mr. Mabille can make pretty evening dresses, embroidered with the flowers that were the more genuine theme. Chantilly lace inserts and layers of organza were a more successful way to play with youthful elegance than Proust’s advice on color coding.

New Spring 2012

New Spring 2012 Campaigns: Tom Ford, Mulberry, John Galliano

Though spring 2012 ad campaigns have been rolling in since before Christmas, latecomers like Tom Ford, Mulberry and John Galliano have most certainly positioned themselves as frontrunners in the ad game, if there was one. I’m still most wildly impressed by the Dominique Dawes action we saw for Chanel’s series of spring ads featuring Joan Smalls and Saskia de Brauw, but the high-gloss tone of Tom Ford’s images, shot by none other than the man himself (as we’d expect, if he’s not starring in them), make for quite a competitor. And besides, Mirte Maas looks pretty good for someone that’s getting her ankles bit – literally.

For Mulberry’s saccharine images, Lindsey Wixson reacquaints herself with ice cream (as though you could forget that Terry Richardson-lensed cover for i-D magazine) alongside Frida Gustavsson, and Constance Jablonski and Benjamin Eidem get Gonzo’d up for John Galliano’s solo spring image, shot by Sebastian Kim. Take a look at the new campaigns below!

Jane

Return of the Red

Jane and Lisbon go to each suspect that they interviewed and show them the gold feather. One by one they all act confused that Jane is showing them a feather. Jane’s final stop brings him to Creepy Tony’s palace of teenage horrors. Tony is unfazed by the feather, but Sasha, who must be involved in the longest photo shoot in histoy, freaks out and tries to run. She is apprehended and taking back to the office where she admits to killing Wyck because he found a younger model to wear his dresses. This is a totally reasonable excuse for killing a man.

Just as the case is wrapping up Jane gets a call from Roslyn, saying that Roy, the man Jane believes is Red John, is at her house. Jane and Darcy go there together and find Roslyn alone in the house. She said that Roy is gone, but they find the guy from the morgue dead in the closet. I knew he was goner. Good night sweet morgue worker, we hardly knew ye.

It looks like Red John is back and starting to wreak havoc once again, but we’ll see if the story picks up steam anytime soon. It is nice having two weeks in a row with episodes that aren’t interrupted or followed by five weeks of nothing.

Fashion Mafia

Creeper Alert

The next person on the list is a creepy photographer named Tony Redgrave. He is clearly inspired by real-life professional creep Terry Richardson. I just realized that I’ve mentioned Couture, Terry Richardson, and John Galliano in one review. I don’t know if I should be proud of my vast fashion knowledge or be embarrassed. Anyways, Tony is busy photographing a distraught model named Sasha who started her career with Wyck. Terry creepily denies any wrong doing so Lisbon and Jane moves on.

Meanwhile, Darcy is still on the Red John case and interviews a random morgue worker about Jane and Roslyn, the blind girl, about coming in to check a body. This character seems really inconsequential, so I predict bad things. She follows this up by talking to Roslyn, and starts to realize the obvious that Jane is a dirty liar.

Fashion Mafia

Cho and Rigsby get a bead on Liu due to his phone. It seems The Dark Knight is real and the police are truly watching our every move through our iPhones. They find Liu in the compromising position of being held under water by the Chinese mafia. Liu is pulled up for air and says that they are just having one of those strange parties that you can only find on Craigslist.

The take the men into their office and Cho starts to interrogate them. I’m guessing that Cho was picked because of his great interview skills and not because he is also Asian. It turns out that the Chinese mobsters have diplomatic immunity and are let go after Jane gives them the test of looking at the feather that was found with the body. They do not react so he says that they are not the killers.

The Mentalist

‘The Mentalist’ Recap: Beauty and the Beast.waffle maker reviews

On this week’s episode of The Mentalist, the CBI team falls into the fickle and strange world of high fashion. Can Jane’s powers of observation break through the thick facade of people who look down on the general public? Let’s find out!

Trouble in the Bay

This week the team is sent to Oakland to investigate the murder of Wyck Theissens, whose name drips of the pomposity of some high society polo player. Wyck was a former Couture fashion designer was trying to make his big comeback in the warehouse of a shady renter named Mr. Liu. My Liu claims that the teenagers that Wyck employed are the culprits. Cho says that a gold feather was found in Wyck’s mouth, and Jane soon discovers a secret room full of high fashion dresses.

As Jane goes out to find the rascally kids that worked with Wyck, our old FBI friend Agent Darcy is still working on the Panzer murder and trying to learn more about Red John. It looks like this is one case that Jane won’t be able to shake off with his sly smiles and winks.

The Usual Suspects

Jane finds Wyck’s young assistants, but they were arrested on the night of the murders. No, they aren’t hardened criminals. Instead they are art students how decide to rage against the machine at the Occupy protests in the city. How topical of you, Mentalist! It turns out that Wyck was working on a new line to re-launch his career, but in the meantime he was making knock-off dressed for Mr. Liu. Damn you Liu! It’s people like you who create extremely high markets for fashion and electronics! Not only is Liu looking more shady, but he has also disappeared.

Lisbon and Jane then go to speak to a couple of guys who were responsible for Wyck losing his fashion street cred a few years earlier. (Is fashion street cred a thing? If not, it is now.) These men are Guy Duval, who had an argument with Wyck the night before the murder, and Junior Acosta, who released an embarrassing video of Wyck bad mouthing people. Not John Galliano-Nazi embarrassing, but still bad.. Duval claims that he was fond of Wyck and his work, and Acosta said he had no reason to kill him. Acosta then proves this point by pulling a knife on Jane. Not a good way to get out of a murder rap my friend.

EMMA JOHNSON

EMMA JOHNSON: John Galliano may no longer be in

charge but j’adore Dior Couture

WHEN I was a little girl, I dreamed of having a “sticky out” dress. Blame it on Deborah Kerr in The King and I, or the endless afternoons spent watching MGM musicals with my nana.

Scarlett O’Hara may also have had a hand in nurturing this obsession.

Barring one pink bridesmaid’s dress, though – the diameter of which was not a patch on Kerr’s or Scarlett’s – I never got one.

But now a sticky out dress is within my reach. Should I suddenly come into £50,000 or so, that is.

Because the dresses unveiled at Christian Dior’s Paris couture show this week are the stuff my childhood dreams were made of.

Almost a year since John Galliano’s dishonourable discharge, his former right-hand man and acting creative director, Bill Gaytten, plundered the Dior archives for his second couture collection for the legendary fashion house, sending an array of to-die-for dresses down the runway.

The gowns took their cues from the iconic collections of Mr Dior himself, the New Look that made the designer’s name back in the late 1940s.

Revered fashion writer Colin McDowell went so far as to say they were copied. (“I could show you a picture of every single one of those dresses from the 1950s,” he told the Telegraph) but agreed that they worked.

Gaytten has described the collection as “an X-ray vision of Dior” because the sheer fabrics allow us to see the construction of the pieces.

Well, X-ray marks the spot for me. I can’t remember the last time a fashion designer made me catch my breath like this.

That said, it wasn’t all ball-gowns, there were also cute full-skirted cocktail dresses and elegant suits.

If I won the Euromillions lottery, I’d buy the lot and wear it everywhere from St Tropez to Sainsbury’s.

The dresses were so beautiful they even managed to (briefly) silence gossip about who should eventually take over as Dior’s creative director.

Although Gaytten has been in charge ever since Galliano’s departure following his arrest and later conviction for making anti-Semitic comments, as yet he has not been confirmed as his permanent successor.

Louis Vuitton’s creative director, Marc Jacobs, and Raf Simons, of Jil Sander, have both been tipped for the role, but poor Gaytten had been considered by many to be out of the running.

Well, this week’s show is one hell of a job application.

The first time around, Dior’s New Look was ruthlessly ripped off, with the nipped-in waists and full skirts going on to become the silhouette of the 1950s.

Whether that will happen this time, though, I am not sure.

I can’t imagine how Primark and Topshop could knock up frocks like this at pocket money prices.

Where I do think we will be seeing these dresses again is next month’s Academy Awards.

Cameron Diaz was among the A-listers on the front row in Paris, and I fully expect to see a number of Gaytten’s masterpieces sashaying down the red carpet at the Oscars.

And, looking at the size of those skirts, I think they’re gonna need a bigger carpet.

Paris Fashion Week

How long can Dior thrive without a couturier?

Ten months after John Galliano was sacked over a racist outburst, Dior has yet to name a new chief designer — but sales are booming. Which begs the question: how long can the French fashion house thrive without a couturier at the helm?

At Paris Fashion Week in September, Christian Dior’s chief executive Sidney Toledano batted away questions about Galliano’s succession, saying the fashion house would take the time it needs to find the right fit.

The following month Dior — a crown jewel of Bernard Arnault’s luxury empire — posted a turnover of 705 million euros ($890 million) for the first three quarters of 2011, up 21 percent on the period in 2010. Retail sales were up by 27 percent.

Buoyant sales suggest Dior has managed to limit fallout from the Galliano scandal, sacking him as soon a video emerged of him hurling anti-Semitic slurs at patrons in a Paris bar, and strongly condemning his outburst.

Since then, the British designer’s former right-hand man Bill Gaytten has overseen its collections, sticking to house “codes” from Dior red to the classic nipped-waist bar suit.

For the historian of fashion Lydia Kamitsis, Galliano may no longer be there, but Dior can still draw on “all that he brought it in terms of product, of image or general artistic direction.”

That said, experts warn the house cannot carry on forever without artistic direction, especially when it comes to haute couture

Looking back a few decades, Chanel carried on selling suits at a brisk pace after Coco Chanel’s death in 1971 — but in creative terms the house was at a standstill until the arrival of Karl Lagerfeld 12 years later.

“You can manage without a designer for a season or two,” argued Serge Carreira, a luxury sector expert and teacher at Sciences Po university in Paris. “But there is a limit, a brand must be regularly refreshed, renewed.”

For the time being, he says Dior is reaping “the rewards of a considerable repositioning undertaken since the mid-2000s,” building on the brand’s identity and developing internationally, especially in China.

“A dynamic that was set in motion well before Galliano’s departure,” he stresses.

The success of the Lady Dior bag and the perfume J’adore — one of the world’s top-selling fragrances — shows that “the brand has an engine”.

Patricia Romatet of the French Institute of Fashion sees Dior’s variety as a key strength, as exemplified by the very different actresses who embody the “face” of the brand in its ad campaigns.

Charlize Theron offers a “glamorous ultra-femininity”, Natalie Portman a “more consensual feminity”, Marion Cotillard brings “classy, French sophistication” and the American Mila Kunis a touch of youth.

The brand’s variety — despite the lack of a designer — is also the sign of the “highly professional shadow workers who keep the company’s business flourishing,” said Romatet.

She suggests Dior could emerge stronger from its designer-free stint.

“The pause gives it some breathing space, and could enable it to take a new direction, to start afresh from a blank slate.”

Belgium’s avant-gardist designer Raf Simons is currently tipped by the fashion media as favourite to succeed Galliano.

The Gibraltar-born, London-bred Galliano, meanwhile, has vanished from sight, despite the best efforts of the planet’s papararazzi to track him down.

Floored by what he said was a triple addiction to drink, drugs and medicines — which he blamed for his hateful outburst — Galliano headed into detox after he was dismissed by Dior.

Looking drawn, he made a brief appearance at his Paris trial in June, but was not there to hear the verdict in September when the court handed him a suspended fine for making anti-Semitic insults.

Court case aside, the designer has resurfaced only to attend the July wedding of his friend Kate Moss, telling Vogue magazine that making the supermodel’s dress had been a form of “creative rehab”.

“She dared me to be John Galliano again,” he said. “I couldn’t pick up a pencil.”

John Galliano New Spring 2012

New Spring 2012 Campaigns: Tom Ford, Mulberry, John Galliano

Though spring 2012 ad campaigns have been rolling in since before Christmas, latecomers like Tom Ford, Mulberry and John Galliano have most certainly positioned themselves as frontrunners in the ad game, if there was one. I’m still most wildly impressed by the Dominique Dawes action we saw for Chanel’s series of spring ads featuring Joan Smalls and Saskia de Brauw, but the high-gloss tone of Tom Ford’s images, shot by none other than the man himself (as we’d expect, if he’s not starring in them), make for quite a competitor. And besides, Mirte Maas looks pretty good for someone that’s getting her ankles bit – literally.

For Mulberry’s saccharine images, Lindsey Wixson reacquaints herself with ice cream (as though you could forget that Terry Richardson-lensed cover for i-D magazine) alongside Frida Gustavsson, and Constance Jablonski and Benjamin Eidem get Gonzo’d up for John Galliano’s solo spring image, shot by Sebastian Kim. Take a look at the new campaigns below!