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Vassiolios Kostetsos To Plus-Sized Women: Drop Dead!

DAHLINGS –

Having Full Figured Fashion Week on the horizon, June 16-19 in New York City, the epicenter of the universe, reminded your faithful correspondent of an interview I did with Vassilios Kostetsos during February’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

(The title of this entry is a paraphrase of a famous New York Post newspaper headline; look it up.)

It was bitterly cold, both inside and outside the tents. The runways were overheated, but the main lobby was frigid. (That was the reason that I fell ill and couldn’t do proper reportage, to my shame.)

In any event, back on February 16, a number of scriveners were invited backstage to the runway tent for a five-minute-interview each with Greek designer Vassilios Kostetsos. It was an icy night. We waited outdoors until the PR crew finally got its act together and led us in. With only five minutes, I decided upon the one question among the several I had written. It was a question I ask every designer I meet:

Would you ever consider designing for a woman my size?

The inevitable answer is a glazed, disbelieving stare, followed by something along the lines of “fashion is for everybody” (translation: are you kidding?).*
The designer was extremely tall, extremely thin, in a tiny brown reptile skin jacket that barely covered the top of his chest, and blondish hair that had been painstakingly styled, gelled and sprayed to look like a frayed plate on one side of his head.
So I asked Mr. Kostetsos this question, including the request that he not say “fashion is for everybody.” I did not have to worry.
His English was not very good, but his answer was clear: no.
Stunned, I asked if that meant he felt that plus-sized women didn’t have the right to wear his clothes.
He nodded, saying (with a great many hand gestures) “Pret-a-porter, yes.” But plus size customers were…“difficult—they want everything. You give them four designs, they want twelve, then they want twenty, all of them.” As if customers who weighed over 80 pounds did not deserve to have the radiant majesty of his attire desecrated by their adiposity. “I do not design this. The clothes they look wrong, they look strange. The clothes are not made for those bodies.”
To be quite frank, I was so stunned that I could not think of anything further to say. But then I was ushered out so that the next journalist could have their turn.
To give the man his due, it is hard to imagine a larger woman (or any woman for that matter) wearing this:
But these? Seriously? They would look strange on larger women??
I loudly beg to differ. It is only that his mind is even tinier than his sample sizes. As long as top-flight designers continue to enforce this prejudice, women will continue to starve themselves to emulate the stick-insects that wear these creations down the runway.
As it stands, I hope that every smaller woman who reads this blog will decide against wearing them, since the rest of us cannot.

Ciao,

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

* the only exception has been the exceptional Marc Bouwer, whom I interviewed last September. You can find that earlier entry in this blog.

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Guest Blogger: "The September Issue" Film Review

DAHLINGS –

My dear friend Sumana Harihareswara, (say that five times fast), is a technology executive who does the sort of work I don’t understand and can’t possibly explain. And she is a delightful person. Now this might have you thinking, “Is our faithful correspondent in a parallel universe? Is she high? A technology executive, delightful?”

Fear not, cherished readers, my sanity is intact. Sumana brings a perspective to the arena of fashion that I find refreshing, since those that toil in the fields of style tend to suffer from, shall we say, an atrophied sense of irony. Everything, from what hemline is in to what shoulder treatment Diane Von Furstenberg is using, is so deadly serious.

In any event, we attended the film, The September Issue, together, and her review is well worth reading. It sums up much of what we discussed afterward. (The link to her blog, Cogito Ergo, Sumana, is on the right.)

http://www.harihareswara.net/sumana/2009/09/12/0

And by the way, the hats for the $50,000 photo shoot set in the 1920s were made by the amazingly talented Ellen Christine of Ellen Christine Millinery. She supplied much of the wondrous headgear I sported during New York Fashion Week!

Enjoy!

Ciao,

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

Project Runway’s One-Hour Macy’s Commercial

DAHLINGS –

I think Tim Gunn dies a little inside every time he has to say, “And use the Macy’s accessory wall.” Somehow Tim Gunn and Macy’s don’t seem to belong in the same sentence. (On the other hand, the Tommy Hilfiger New York Fashion Week show was eerily like watching the Macy’s Better Sportswear Department take the runway. I mean, a khaki trenchcoat? Yes, yes, designers have to give the buyers what they want, but how much effort does it take to be that unoriginal?)

This week’s challenge was to design two looks for Macy’s in-house brand, INC, using only the color blue. Moreover, the designers had to split into teams of two. All ten designers had to pitch their ideas to a Macy’s executive (who was also one of the judges), and she chose the top five, who could then pick their partners. Team challenges are obviously even more stressful that the regular challenges, plus for some reason, the designers are continuously being forced to come up with their looks in one day. What is this, Survivor? Are they going to make Nicolas eat bugs??

Althea chose Logan as her partner (and despite his chemistry with Carol Hannah, they did seem to make a love connection as they worked). Christopher chose Epperson, and they got along very well, so they did not get a lot of a camera time. Louise chose Nicolas, which was not a good idea. The man hates ruffles. Despises ruffles. Wishes ruffles had never been invented. And if memory serves, everything Louise has sent down the runway has been a little shift dress decorated with–you guessed it–ruffles.

Irina chose Gordana for her partner, and they did not get along. Let’s just say they made Louise and Nicolas look like they were on The Bachelor. I can’t remember how Carol Hannah and Shirin made out (pardon the pun), so they were probably too boring to log much footage other than B-roll.

Christopher and Epperson fell madly in love with their creations, while Nicolas obviously wanted to set fire to the two hideous dresses he and Louise designed. Surprise! Little dresses with ruffles! Really bad ruffles this time. It’s the same when somebody cooks when they’re angry–the food tastes awful.

Then came the judging–and the Duchess himself, Michael Kors was BACK! Looking as orange as a ripe Halloween pumpkin, and twice as bitchy. (Oui, it’s a bit of a stretch to say a pumpkin can be bitchy, but I’ve known some nasty root vegetables in my time.) The other judges were Heidi, the Macy’s exec, and some female fashion editor who was not Nina Garcia. This is getting truly tiresome. However, Heidi’s bloodlust level has gone up every week, and she was practically slobbering at the thought of ripping a designer a new one. She clearly loved intoning “One–or more–of you will be out,” since she said it twenty times during the episode, probably even when she was not on-camera.

As for the looks, this was one of the most uninspired runway shows of the season. Perhaps Project Runway should concentrate less on sleep-depriving the designers and give them some interesting challenges for a change.

Team Irina turned out an uninspired maxi dress that, with exception of some spangles on the top, looked like thousands of maxi dresses I’ve seen in New York and East Hampton this year.

Gordana designed a beautiful draped top with a ruched waist, despite Irina constantly shooting down her ideas.

Team Althea produced a suit with a skirt that was so tight it rode up as the model walked.

As mentioned, Team Louise produced the closest thing to vomit on the runway that I’ve seen yet.

Team Carol Hannah turned out a strange loopy-loooking blue blouse with a high waisted skirt, and a tunic top with leggings.

Team Christopher was devastated by the judges’ sheer hatred of Epperson’s shiny shirtdress and Christopher’s teal-blue tunic top with a banded bottom over the leggings. When they were in the bottom three (obviously with Team Louise), Epperson was aghast, but Christopher completely lost it. Sobbing like Bette Davis during both the initial and final critique.

Christopher’s tears probably saved his hide, as only one–not more–of the designers were out. And it was, of course, Louise who got auf’d. Just once, I’d like to see one of the designers bite Heidi when she’s kissing them on the cheeks. Christopher ran bawling off the stage.

Irina’s looks-like-everyone-else’s maxi dress won the challenge. As a friend I was watching this with said, “Where is the site that I can go to for WTF was on the runway?”

I could not have said it better myself. Thank you, Sumana.

Ciao,
Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

Interview With Red Carpet Photographer Frazer Harrison

DAHLINGS –
All of this talk of the Emmy red carpet has me remembering my interview last week at New York Fashion Week with photographer Frazer Harrison.
Frazer Harrison is a ruggedly handsome, outspoken Englishman, based in Los Angeles as an entertainment photographer for Getty Images. You’ve seen his work in magazines, the Internet, anywhere there’s a celebrity event. When looking at magazine photos of the red carpet, be it the Academy Awards, the Emmys or even the VMAs, you’re apt to see Harrison’s photographs of Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Charlize Theron, even Paris Hilton. (But that’s hardly Harrison’s fault.)
(Frazer Harrison)
We met inside the cavernous lobby of Mercedez Benz Fashion Week, and settled down on the huge stone fountain for a quiet conversation. The talk ranged from fashion to Hollywood to the difference between photojournalism and paparazzi.

(Photo: Elisa DeCarlo)

Since his bailiwick is the red carpet, Harrison admitted that the runway media pits are not his favorite places to be.

(Isaac Mizrahi/Photo: Frazer Harrison)

We started with casual conversation about the shows. Asked which fashion shows he thought were the worst, he immediately answered, “Daviddelfin. And Duckie Brown. Those shorts looked like diapers. I looked at those shorts, and I wondered, where’s the colostomy bag?”

We were joined by his publicist. The talk turned from New York fashion to Hollywood. Harrison much prefers the red carpet, and has spent years honing his ability to get the perfect picture. There’s a generic Young Hollywood pose, hand on hip, one foot forward. Harrison wished some of the female stars would leave their hands at their sides for a more interesting picture. He urged those who would wish to walk the red carpet to “practice the pose that works for you, however you like it.”

“A very small number of actors and actresses know how to work the red carpet,” Harrison observed. “Most of them have no idea how to pose. They jump up and down; they don’t know where to look. To know how to work the red carpet, you look straight, you don’t react to the shouting.”

Then how to get that certain celebrity to look into your camera when you’re surrounded by screaming colleagues? “You’ve got to have a trademark,” he said. “I yell ‘Over to the English guy!’ or, if it’s a big star like Drew Barrymore, ‘I’ll make you famous’!” He laughed. “That’s a line from a movie.”

(Amy Poehler at the Emmys/Photo: Frazer Harrison)

What is his biggest red carpet peeve?

“Celebrities don’t need to be led down the red carpet on a leash, by their publicists” he replied.

“It has to be done,” his publicist interrupts. “They spend too long—“

“Leave them alone,” Harrison responds. Harrison felt that the biggest problem with today’s red carpet is that there is not enough real celebrity. (Your faithful correspondent heartily concurs. ) “It’s been taken over by reality television stars,” he said, noting that few of them have the genuine charisma of real celebrities.

And digital photography has made photographers lazier, he stated. “You used to wait with your camera for that perfect shot,” he said, lifting his camera and carefully pretending to aim it at a moving celebrity. “Then you get that perfect shot. Nowadays, it’s just—“Harrison swings the camera, making a rat-a-tat noise. “You get hundreds of pictures.”

As a longtime professional photojournalist, Harrison gets most exercised when compared to the paparazzi. “None of us like to be called paparazzi. They’re scumbags. Photojournalists capture moments. What are remembered on the red carpet are the real moments, like Clark Gable hugging Marilyn Monroe. I call those action shots, or war pictures.”

(Kathy Griffin at the Emmys/Photo: Frazer Harrison)

“When the history of Hollywood is written, those are the pictures that will be used. The line is slim [between photojournalists and paparazzi], because we’re both taking candid shots.”

However, he chuckles as he remembers an encounter with Liz Hurley during the Hugh Grant scandal. Harrison was at the airport, trying to get his shot, when he backed into a concrete post and fell. Hurley looked down at him and said, “Serves you right, fucker.”

But, says Harrison, “You don’t judge a person in the moment.” Sometimes the celebrity is under stress, but then that same celebrity will be perfectly friendly at another time.

“Everybody has their own thing,” he concluded. “You have to ask yourself, ‘what’s special about me’?”

Fortunately, when it comes to moi, I do not have to ask. But Frazer Harrison is definitely a special gentleman. He’s never done a nude shoot, but seemed amenable to one at a future date. Be sure, I know how to strike a pose!

Ciao,

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

Fashion Week: I’m in WWD for Upstaging Kathy Griffin!

DAHLINGS –

Your faithful correspondent has occasionally been trailed by the paparazzi, but nothing prepared me for the BARRAGE of flashbulbs when I entered the Isaac Mizrahi show! I know I looked divine, and perhaps the press was simply tired of photographing reality stars and socialites. And I managed to tick off Miss Kathy Griffin, as you can read in this article from Womens Wear Daily:
http://www.wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/front-row-at-isaac-mizrahi-2296454?gnewsid=96cc6888862f317b7fe2926d5f43c089#/wwd

Do have a look. I have not seen any pictures of that event, but I’m sure they will be popping up soon.

And I have to take back my strong words about French documentary filmmakers. They found me on Thursday afternoon. I was interviewed at length for an upcoming Sundance Channel special on the Academy Awards red carpet…it seems that few people at Fashion Week were willing to actually express an opinion. You know moi, dahlings, I always express my opinions.

The Mizrahi show was beautiful, entertaining, and even quite funny at times. Quite a bit like your faithful correspondent. More later.

Here I am, approximately nine hours later, after the Tommy Hilfiger show.


For details of all of the fabulous outfits I wore during Fashion Week, with copious photos and information on where to buy them, please do take a look at http://diaryofamadfashionistafashionweek.blogspot.com/

You’ll enjoy it immensely, I promise you!

Ciao,
Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

A New York Fashion Week Thank You…

DAHLINGS –

Most of my staff may be total incompetents, but the people “behind the scenes” at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week have made many things infinitely more tolerable to your faithful correspondent. And so before I go on to review more shows or try to write something philosophical about The State Of Fashion today, I wish to thank those, shall we say, little people who grease the wheels of the mighty engine of MCFW.

1) The IMG press office. Despite being continuously deluged and frantic in their small outdoor cubicle, they consented to my bringing an assistant, were always polite and patient with my many requests, and remained unflappable in the face of hysterical reporters and photographers. And somehow found the time to send out media alerts every day. I can barely keep up with this blog-thing, heaven knows how they do it.

2) Citadel, the security staff. These handsome gentlemen (and a few women) turned out to be very pleasant company while one waited in the endless lines. Some of the men have to stand for more than 12 hours a day. If I had to do that and deal with the continual parade of lunatics who attend Fashion Week, I would probably bring a machete in my purse. Or Bucky, who could inflict just as much damage with his razor-sharp teeth. Plus, they are quite easy on the eyes.

3) McCafe. Ordinarily I would not set my high-heeled foot in a McDonald’s. Too many of the great unwashed, you know. However, their coffee bar was a lifesaver! Especially when I asked for an iced mocha with an expresso shot and whipped cream! Those caffeine and sugar bombs kept me going for hours on end.

4) The Lu Biscuit girls. These beautiful young girls, mostly aspiring actresses, were always amusing to converse with. Intentionally, I mean. Highly observant and intelligent, and they gave one chocolate biscuits! What more could one ask?

5) Fern Mallis and Lynn Yaeger, for reasons they will understand.


















Fern Mallis

6) The technical crew, who kept the tents from collapsing on all of us, or the floors from collapsing underneath us. (Imagine the huge piles of fashionistas screaming “Don’t you know who I am?” at the rescue crews.) Plus, they were good looking men, and you know how I feel about that.

(Hubba hubba)

7) The Information Desk Staff. Not only did they give me scads of reading material, they tried to help me when:

Un Grand Merci Not You To:

The French documentary crew who had me rush to Bryant Park at noon for an interview, only to stand moi up! Now you know why so many people do not like the French. And the phone number they gave me was in France! For almost an hour, the staff at the IMG Information Desk tried to help me dial the number, to no avail. Je crache sur les producteurs de documentaires français de films.

Off to the tents – more later, dahlings!

Ciao,
Elisa and Bucky the Still Sulking Wonderdog

Fashion Week: Tadashi Shoji Looks To The Past

DAHLINGS –

Perhaps Project Runway has spoiled certain aspects of fashion for your faithful correspondent, or perhaps it’s the need for designers to cut back in this uncertain economy. Not only that, an extensive knowledge of fashion history is not always a good thing to have inside the tents.

If I had to pick the single most uninspired show I have attended this week, regrettably it would have to be Tadashi Shoji.

As his dresses swept by, I found myself thinking, “Oh, a lovely draped black 40s evening gown…a ho-hum beaded beige 1960s A-line mini…another ho-hum beige mini, but with rope trim all over it…” and so forth.

Tadashi Shoji has been making draped and swirled dresses longer than most fashion bloggers have been alive, it’s “what he does” as one indignant young woman informed me when we discussed the show afterwards.

However, another problem your faithful correspondent had with Mr. Shoji’s collection was the often poor construction. This is not something I have not encountered on the runway before.

Several hems of the shorter dresses puckered and bubbled as the models walked; each dress had a shiny bobbing back zipper tap that caught the overhead lights as much as any of the intricate beadwork.

One dress made of alternating thin strips of solid and sheer fabric was stiff and moved poorly. It makes a smashing photograph, but in action, it stuck out awkwardly from the model’s hips as she walked.

This long dress looked like bits of bubble gum wrapper had gotten caught in the skirt.

To be fair, many of the dresses were quite appealing and the color palette was pleasing to the eye, mostly beige and sand with soft greens, blues and reds. One green dress was beautifully woven, exactly like the gold dress Gordana sent down the runway in last week’s Project Runway.

Good thing Heidi Klum was not in attendance, or there would have been a chance that Mr. Shoji would have been auf’ed.

All photos Getty Images