Tuesday, September 29, 2009

use your head: HeadBlade

by frédérik sisa

When I was a kid, my father had a funny t-shirt that read “God only made a few perfect heads…on the rest he put hair.” (The secular version might read “nature only evolved a few perfect heads…everything else has hair.”) It certainly made the “solar panel for sex machines” t-shirts seem really, really dim-witted. It definitely made baldness seem like something that could be embraced with good humour instead horror. That good humour was much-needed as my hair started thinning in my twenties. I gradually had my hair cut shorter and shorter until, at last, I would get a buzz cut once a month or so. The logical end to that progression was, of course, shaving. And since I’m not Mr. Potato Head, the prospect of going fully bald wasn’t one that provoked panic in the streets, had parents hide their children when I passed by, or prompted my closest peeps to threaten an intervention. (“Put down the shaver, fellah! Just put it down and no one gets ugly!”)

There are benefits of going bald other than happily avoiding the questionable issue of bald spots (if I wanted a tonsure I’d become a monk) and the horror of comboverzilla. No more fuzzy head in between buzzes – buzz cuts are good for about a week or two, then the hair gets too long. No more need for someone else to do the buzzing. True, shaving my head AND my face every day is a bit time-consuming, but at least I can achieve a consistent look under my control. Bald is my style, as it were.

Making the decision to shave the ol’ noggin was made considerably easier thanks to the cool (as in Steve McQueen cool) Culver City-based company HeadBlade, a company. Their signature product is where they get their name from:

(Click image to enlarge.)

The verdict: beautifully curved for domes, blockheads need not apply, it works. Huzzah for good design! I admit that I haven’t entirely given up the straight-edge razor, but the comfortably-shaped, contoured HeadBlade was the perfect way to get the hang of shaving my head. And it’s still never far away.

Just as worthwhile, and vital, is HeadBlade’s range of headcare products; shaving creams, moisturizers, exfoliants, sunscreen. Although I’ve tried other shaving creams and gels, HeadSlick is my favourite. The blade glides very smoothly, the mentholated cream leaves a cool tingly feeling… and razor burn? Forget about it. The moisturizing HeadLube is excellent too, keeping skin nice and fresh, and the sunscreen is a must-have unless you want your head to look burnt. They also offer HeadWipes for when the daily sweat and grime leaves skin feeling icky and oily. I tend to be suspicious about antibacterial soaps and wipes – too much use can result in resistant bacteria, as I understand it – but sometimes the day hits hard and you just have to get not just clean but squeaky. Those head wipes are perfect – convenient, refreshing, squeaky clean.

(Click image to enlarge.)

You don’t have to shave your head to enjoy Headblade’s products, however. In fact, they’ve just introduced the FaceBlade, a compact travel razor suited for face, legs, and “whatever,” that anyone can use. (This is one thing I especially like about the company; they’re always working on new, practical products. I live and work near their HeadQuarters in Culver City; every time I stop by I learn about some exciting new idea in development.) With a focus on men’s grooming needs that are much more attuned than mega-companies like Gillette and an associated brand identity that is masculine without being aggressively, cartoonishly macho, HeadBlade is the real deal. While some brands are about as puffy as cotton candy, HeadBlade’s offering of great products and great value makes a justified claim for brand loyalty.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Color me pretty

By Aqua Catlin

Don't mean to be absent. I'm on a shoot with no cell or internet reception. Its a lovely one, up high in the Malibu mountains. A place previously unknown or imagined. You can actually see stars - a luxury here in LA, and the sky is a clear that I haven't seen in forevs. Though its really hot, typically there have been clouds BELOW us but when they clear in the afternoon you can see the sea.

Leads me to feelin' summery. Hot enough to wear shorts if I only had a tan instead of this cheesecake complexion. I had the weekend off the shoot and used the time to treat myself right. Slept yesterday till 3:30, got my hair done, (Shortys "3 in 1 botanical Shampoo-Conditioner-Bodywash" is an awesome moisture rich find!!), shaved, got a spa mani-pedi with a girlfriend, went out for dinner, and went tanning twice. Two times in two days. I DON'T KNOW. Is this too much? Someone in the know please explain tanning and successful tanning.

In this quest for the right tone of "less white than before" I have toasted myself like a piece of battered fish and chips. Went yesterday for 9 minutes. The max is 12. Took a gay bff's advice and wore my underwear so I'd see the difference and not go all crazy and obsessive and eventually orange.

It didn't work and I went back today all crazy and obsessive and eventually red. I asked the guy at the desk if it was too soon, if I should wear sunscreen and if I should wait a few more days. The answer: "No. Go in for 10 minutes." I knew I knew better but really wanted to wear shorts on the hot set tomorrow. Me: "Should I try one of these expensive looking bronzers?" Him: "Yes. Here, this one's new." Australian Gold Bronze Bronze. So far: Australian Pink Pink Ouch Ouch.

So my tanning saga continues. Mystic is a fail. Spray is a fail. Bed: I feel like El Scorcho salsa from Del Taco. Lucky I covered my face, but the rest of me is tender, so bloody tender. I'm in pain where anything touches me and far from bronzed. Grumble. How long do I need to wait between tans? How dangerous is the Ergoline 450 tanning bed light and what about the Ergoline 800? I love that song Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen by Baz Luhrman and listen to it regularly. Should take my own advice but it didn't feel right in a salon. I was raised in Australia to avoid the sun and to always wear sunscreen and I do. Can I do this in a tanning bed or is it not necessary? I need answers, you gorgeous brownies out there. You're everywhere, so someone must know something.

And moving on, here's what I've learned from the shoot. Don't look everyone up and down to evaluate the usefulness of their apparel to you and your needs...well not off the set anyway. Don't touch the creepy extra guy's clothes from behind while he's wearing them. Don't ever go more than 2 weeks without a manicure. I got an ingrown fingernail and it made me very grumbly. Skirts on men stretch too much. Always have doubles, especially if there's a lot of bright red or green body makeup featured in your film and the key makeup is the nervous type. (Perhaps to help, I can play a role with my special new hue.)

Here's what I've learned again: Double-stick tape rocks, snaps suck, actors who eat in white costumes will be punished, Downey Wrinkle Release is a miracle, sleep and preparation are key but they are not a friend to each other.

Well, this is a bit of a miscellany post but its what I have at this time. Wear Sunscreen!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

interview with Jack Markuse: PROJECTS watches

Eager to learn more about PROJECTS watches, I asked The Markuse Corporation’s CEO Jack Markuse a few questions...

What is the quality you find in architecture that carries over to watches and other products?

Traditionally, it has been industrial designers that create product. While this is a good choice, it can also be a limiting choice. Industrial designers are charged with building a product in many cases from the ground up. This includes down to the screws in many of the cases. This can present several problems. One is that often you are re-designing the wheel and a second is that industrial designers are so involved with the most minute detail that often a project cannot be realized because of expense or impracticality.

Architects on the other hand deal with more of a “macro” design and leave the technical details up to the engineers. This not only frees up the architect to focus on the creative aspect of his/her design, but helps the technical people to guide and forge a product priced within the desired goal.

Architects are trained to step back and look at the whole picture…the wrist, the clothing, etc.

Not only are the designs stunning, the price range of $90-135 is striking too. It's a certainly unexpected given the usual association between "designer" and "expensive." Is it a specific part of the Projects mission to make design accessible to a wider audience? To what extent is educating people about architecture and art a component of Projects?

Our mission is to educate through design. In essence whenever one purchases one of our watches he is learning about design. Whether it be the literal translation of one of our watches like the Scarlet (this watch is three dimensional and architectural in its assembly from the tiny small screws that hold the band to the case to the precise curvature of all of its angles) or the symbolic translation such as the High Museum Watch by Richard Meier. This watch is a white massive canvass that when you press a button, the dial lights up. Symbolic of the High Museum which deals with space and lighting.

The Projects mantra is that good design does not have to be expensive. We strive to introduce affordable watches with timeless (no pun intended) design.

What is your impression on Projects evolution since you first startedg it? In the 15 years of business, how has Projects met your hopes and expectations?

Projects is still a company evolving. The Markuse Corporation began in 1983 as the U.S. distributor and design consultant for the Italian company Alessi. During this time, The Markuse Corporation developed PROJECTS. Its initial direction was quite different from today. Originally, we started commissioning American architects to design typically American products such as mailboxes and house numbers. These products were all made in the USA….designed by Americans, made in America. This then evolved to include weathervanes and a Japanese designer. From there we evolved into housewares with bathroom accessories, wall clocks, cookie jars and watches! An immediate affair began between Projects and our buying public with our watches. The designs were unique, affordable, quality oriented and fashionable. Since the introduction of our first watch in 1991 designed by Michael Graves, we have now developed over 60 designs. Some of these designs stay in our collection, some do not and some come back after years of absence.

Finally, what does the future hold for Projects?

We continue to develop unique and affordable watches. We are exploring new technologies. We develop approximately 3 or 4 new designs every six months. Our focus continues to bring great design to the marketplace at affordable prices. Our watches can be found in over 200 museums worldwide. 2010 will bring new designers and artists to the forefront.

Many thanks to Mr. Markuse for generously taking the time to talk with me!

a class of their own: PROJECTS watches

When it comes to watches, I admit I’m not especially impressed by the luxury brands – Rolex, Bulova, and whatever timepiece is currently in James Bond’s favour. Sure, they have undeniable cachet, but in the end they confuse the ostentatious with good design. They’re status symbols, in other words. There are exceptions. The sophisticated Movado museum watch, for example, is rightly a classic and enduring design. At over 500 dollars, however, with some pushing $1000, Movado holds a rather lofty perch for us mere mortals.

Back here in reality, Fossil offers a solid line of street-saavy products, although they really shine with their designer line. They don’t have the Frank Gehry designs anymore, but Fossil deserves props for their Philippe Starck watches…lovely, lovely things, they are. Flirting with funky are cutting-edge brands like Tokyo Flash, whose high-tech, unconventional timepieces defy the usual analog and digital displays with gimmicky, even fussy but intriguing readouts. Think watches for the sci-fi cyborg era. More approachable, but similarly breaking out from the usual ways to tell and read time is 01 1he 0ne. From binary to add-the-bars displays, they offer unique, streamlined designs…I own a Kerala Trance and I love it, even if my wife finds it amusing I still struggle with reading the binary display.
(High Museum designed by architect Richard Meier.)

But without knocking down any of these other brands – they have their strengths – I just discovered a design collection that belongs in a category of class and design of its own: PROJECTS watches. The motto is “architecture you can wear,” and with good reason. PROJECTS stands out for watches designed by established and recognizable architects like Richard Meier, Michael Graves, Thom Mayne, Maya Lin, and many others. Says the man behind PROJECTS and CEO of the Marcuse Corporation, Jack Markuse:
We are a company that has been commissioning architects to design first: housewares then outdoor accessories and now watches…we undertook a project called BUILDING TIMEPIECES about 10 years ago. We commissioned approximately 20 well known architects who had all designed museums. Their mission was to design a watch in the image of the museum; other literally or figuratively…From there we developed not only other home furnishings
As Mr. Markuse goes on to explain, PROJECTS watches fall in three different categories:

Architect Designed Watches: These are watches designed by architects. These watches have a three-dimensional aspect to them. They deal with color, structure and each element of the watch “plays” off other aspects of the watch. Simply put, what you see is what you get meaning that its appeal is to an educated, upper class, American consumer. I say this because the American architect designs for the American taste. This differs significantly from the European designer. Not to say there is a value judgment here, but rather just a fact that American taste is different than European taste.

(Chroma designed by architect Laurinda Spear.)

Interactive Watches: These are watches that direct themselves to the 18 – 35+ market. It is our newest and fastest growing segment of the market. These are buyers who would normally depend upon their cell phones or IPODS for the time and buy the watch for mainly its design element. The only caveat is that the watch must do something; interactive, if you will.
(Reveal designed by computer graphics pioneer Daniel Will-Harris.)

The M&Co Watches represent our third category of watches. These are significantly different than the other two, but, none less important as it addresses a significant portion of the market. These watches were all designed in the 80s by Tibor Kalman, the founder of M&Co. They are thin watches that play upon witty graphics such as the Onomatopoeia, “5” to the 10-One-4 which is included in MoMA’s permanent design collection. This Collection is the “darling” of the graphic design world as these details are the language of the buyer.
(Onomatopoeia designed by M&Co founder Tibor Kalman)

Seven years of close contact with architecture doing marketing for an architecture firm definitely influences my excitement but the designs are as accessible to everyone as they are reasoned and artistic reflections of the architectural practice. The pieces in the collection are varied, intriguing, clever witty. They are, in short, examples of well-conceived, thoughtful, comprehensive design. I mean, great googly moogly these watches are both intellectually and aesthetically beautiful. Brains and beauty! With designs for men and women, I’ll bet a piece or two (or three, or four) will rank as a must-have for just about anyone’s wardrobe. And here’s the shocker: these aren’t priced at what you’d expect. $500? $ 300? Nope. Would you believe the price range is approximately $90-$135? That’s absolutely gobsmacking and yet another reason why a PROJECTS watch goes straight to the top of the must-have list.

See the full collection of PROJECTS watches here, and click here for an interview with Jack Markuse.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dopies: cool, fun, unique, and eco-friendly flip-flop alternative

by frédérik sisa

Don't have time for a long(ish) post at this very moment? Here' the skinny: Dopies ain't whack, they're dope. Scroll down to the last paragraph to get FREE SHIPPING on a pair of your own.

Here’s a question for designers: how do you fulfill the function of a shoe using the least amount of shoe possible? Traditional answer: our noisy little friend the flip-flop. A more innovative solution – in the vein of “better living through chemistry” – is the topless sandal, a sole that sticks to the foot. But flip-flops are familiar and topless sandals, however cool, have practical limits. They’re not suited for sandy, dusty environments and they require washing (and drying) after every use to reactivate the adhesive. These aren’t shoes you can just slip on and kick off at leisure.

While a student at London’s Royal College of Art, industrial designer Matthew Harrison came up with another option, which he developed in conjunction with eco-friendly shoe company Terra Plana: a single-piece rubber/EVA contoured toe post and sole called Dopie. It’s a marvel of simplicity and a good example of design economy. A wide, supportive post gripped between the big and second toes keeps the Dopie on. Slots on either side of the sole allow for a removable/adjustable strap that goes through the sole and over the foot. Overall, a fun spin on the usual flip-flop that sports a unique, attention-getting look. But…does it work?

It does. The Dopie feels and works like a flip-flop and the toe post is, indeed, enough to keep the shoe on. Without the stabilizing strap, however, Dopies can make a bit of a racket. Racket? Try thunderclap! Then again, my office space is very quiet so it could be that I’m just self-conscious. In the real, noisy world Dopies aren’t any worse than most flip-flops. In cases where the flip-flopping is a bit too flippety and floppety, there’s always the strap.

But let’s talk biomechanics. These take some getting used to. And, like flip-flops, they do have an effect on gait and walking/running capacity, especially in the strapless configuration. At the least, I wouldn’t feel very comfortable or safe doing things like skateboarding in them without the strap. Something else I discovered, based in the fact our right and left feet don’t tend to be identical; my left foot didn’t always stay straight on the Dopie. This quirk, which varies from person to person, doesn’t count against the Dopies. It only means that while great for the sort of things flip-flops are good for, Dopies aren’t high-performance sandals like Chacos. Obvious Footwear Tip No. 1: use the right shoes for the right activity.

Although Terra Plana suggests, half-jokingly, that advanced Dopie wearers don’t need the straps, there’s good reason not to dismiss them. Feet remain more securely in place with less side-to-side wobbling and, as I said, the noise gets muted. But going without the straps is very nice too – a stroll to the pool, for example, or just hanging out. As someone who prefers going around barefoot, the Dopie is pretty darn close. The Dopie motto is “Naked Shoes for Naked People.” I don’t know about the naked people thing, but the naked shoes bit is right. Dopies are rather liberating.

My only complaint is that Dopies don’t come in specific sizes but in generic small, medium, and large. This means the Dopies don’t run true-to-size and, as they do with me, may have some extra protruding material depending on the size of your foot. It’s not quite so bad as to feel as if I’m wearing water-skis but the three-sizes-fits-all approach isn’t what I would call ideal. I think specific sizes would look better.

On the plus side, Dopies are leather-free, hence cruelty-free and great for vegans. And according to Terra Plana’s eco-matrix, the Dopie scores a 20 out of a possible 25 in terms of criteria such as number of components, minimal toxins, durability, and eco-friendly/recycled materials. Also, Terra Plana is itself a worthwhile company with a number of different footwear lines, dedicated to offering chic footwear that’s good to the environment. (Terra Plana won an Observer Ethical Award in 2007 handed by the UK’s Guardian newspaper as well as a 2008 Ethical Footwear Retailer of the Year Award from Drapers.)

I was slightly balking at the $50 price tag…but considering that Havaianas retail for $25-$30 and Topsies are at least $50, well, Dopies aren’t really that far out into the spendosphere. It's all relative, of course. To sweeten the deal if you want to get a pair of your own, Terra Plana is kindly offering Fashionoclast readers FREE SHIPPING on Dopies: just enter code FashionDopie at checkout. You have until September 30th, 2009 to benefit, however, so if you want a pair for yourself don’t delay! Click here to visit Terra Plana's online store.

Note: Many thanks to Lindsay Sargent and Patty Kahn of Bullfrog & Baum for their generous assistance, and for kindly providing me with a free pair of Dopies to review.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Everybody goes to Hollywood

By Aqua Catlin

This week I'm reviewing "Hollywood Fashion Tape" brand's little touches they do for wardrobe needs. They're a pretty good overall company. Selling us what we never knew we needed and now we can't live without. And making us feel pretty while we're being utilitarian with their brilliant branding.

I've used the following products from them.
Hollywood Extras - Used on an actress for a lingerie scene. She wasn't endowed with a handful so she brought them along and we slipped them in. They added some nice contours to her cleavage and they stayed in place. Better than not using them but not exactly an in-your-face moment. I'd like to try them out myself for fun but it hasn't been a priority.

Hollywood Squares - This is a piece of pink foam, that's literally it. But its re-usable. Just use it by rubbing it back and forth on your clothes to remove deodorant stains, makeup powder and pet hair. I have a problem with deodorant getting everywhere so this is going to be a standard: 1 in the house, 1 in the car, 1 in the wardrobe set bag. It works, but it doesn't work miracles and its a little more labor intensive than you really feel up to, after all, its pink. But a must have!

Hollywood Fashion Tape - The brand's namesake product. On set I always say that my best friend is double-stick tape. Its quick and it sticks. I use more of this than anything on set aside from my steamer and those yummy red vines. I use a variety of double-stick tapes, not just this one. This comes in 3" strips and I tend to cut them down to a more girly size for my personal use. A dab here and there. I really don't use too much of this on set, for name actresses I use it but to get the job done, in general, I use the more widely available fashion tape or, gasp, office grade which works the best.

Hollywood Rising Stars - This is a paperthin adhesive semi-circle of silicone to go without a bra but still kind of keep up your salute to the sun, or chandelier. Girl's only. You hold 'em where you want them to be and place the Rising Star on. Goes on the top half of the bosom which seems wrong at first, like they could be visible under low-cut tops, but no. Do get it right the first time, you can't reposition or reuse these. They provide a practice piece but its not pleasant removing them AT ALL. I was still red the next day. Usually when the hangover's gone, so is the pain so I was surprised. Ouch, but worth it as needed. They're also nude so perhaps invisible under sheer, that's the claim, risky though in the wrong lighting.

Hollywood Sweater Saver - Cue the Angels' song. I love my sweaters, they're big, fluffy, feminine, flattering, expensive. Then there's the whole "paying the dry-cleaner who speaks a little English but is it enough? to remove the pills from your precious sweater". The pills always come back the first wearing anyway! Basically a really hard and rough pumice stone. You don't want to touch it. They should die this pink too and give it a little handle, those clever gooses. Its also really counter-intuitive rubbing it on your precious wool weave but it works great and leaves the fabric looking a little fresher, just like exfoliating!

I'd like to purchase pretty much all their products, haha. This is probably next on my list. Don't judge, we live in a disposable age and when it comes to technology, smaller is better! Hollywood Commandos.

In general this brand is innovative, fun and utilitarian - I want it all for when I'm on set. The packaging screams, "you'll die without me but you'll rule with me" and its in the bag. If anyone has tried some of their other lines or products, please tell us all about it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

piercing eyesight with body-mod glasses

by frédérik sisa

So you think you’re tough, eh, four-eyes? But are you tough enough for some extreme eyewear? Check out these bad muthas (click images to enlarge):

That’s right – PIERCED eye glasses. A bridge piercing consists of a barbell to which are attached small magnets. Frameless lenses connect to the barbell via magnetic brackets. Result: totally cool. I admit that despite my brash opening I don’t think I have the chops for a pair of these, however, for a rather obvious reason I’ll get to in a moment. But I’ll just say that I love the concept; this is fashion iconoclasm at its independent DIY best. And a pretty solid design too by James Sooy and his metal-working partner Oliver Gibson. Judging from images and a movie clip posted on their website, these should prove to be easy to put on and remove as well as easily interchanged between regular lenses and sunglass lenses.

The look, to make a crude comparison, is a bit like that of a topless sandal: minimalist in appearance although unobtrusively technological in its fabrication. I can picture these either on their own – a subtle industrial flourish that will put an edge to any outfit – or as part of a steampunk aesthetic that merges the industrial with the (ersatz?) tribal. Naturally, there is an appeal to those folk into body-mod. The cost is also attractive: $75-100. This excludes the cost of the lenses; these you have to get yourself.

Of course, the issue is that with the glasses off you still have the barbell and metal bits on either side of your nose. I suppose if you don’t take your glasses off except at night, when no one see you, it’s not an issue. But what about when going swimming? How about during other activities – and I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out which ones – during which wearing glasses is impractical? Are those bits harmless, distracting or otherwise funny-looking without the lenses? Then there’s the fact that the glasses do need a piercing. Although bridge piercings are, according to the FAQ, relatively painless and don’t touch bone or cartilage, getting a bridge piercing is not for everyone. Myself included.

Still, if these obstacles aren’t obstacles at all, there’s a lot of forward-looking fashion packed in these frameless glasses. Unfortunately, they aren’t available yet. Sooy and Gibsom are still prototyping and working towards a finished product. You can sign up to the waiting/mailing list to stay up to date with availability and check out Sooy/Gibson's website here.

So what about you, dear reader? Would you wear these? Vote in the poll at the top right of the page!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The usual Drrrama

By Aqua Catlin

back to Leopold's, Drrrama at The Standard's Purple Lounge late last night with the gorgeous, talented (and vampy!) Leigh.
This was my 3rd visit. Each time is different and as fresh feeling as the first. With open minded or artistic friends...or strangers, there is nowhere else you'd rather be and you'll have a great time together. All the costumes, performances, the awesome DJs, in this case, Terence Toy (and briefly some nut with too much cocaine up his nose. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just hated his act), are a sensual feast.

Leopold's own show was exciting, raw energy and a polished act. Its always unexpected. He's a generous and talented performer, much like everyone in the place and on the dance floor. Did I mention they were
performing in their underwear, covered in mud and beautiful face makeup? It could've been sweats and tees, the show was so magnetic. Sorry, I can't describe the musical genre. Its just "Leopold". (And it doesn't hurt one's pride to hear our star yelling, "[my name/your name] is in the house!" into the microphone. If you like that sort of thing and I love it.)

Hmm, I forgot to look for Britney and Lindsay, but I danced next to Alexis Arquette, (looking stunning in a leopard print jacket, tights and red high
heel boots. The absence of a skirt was perfection), and met truly beautiful performance drag and drrrama queens and very cool, fun people. Leigh was providing the giggles too and its great to see the straight men having a blast in an environment that's overwhelming to the lesser of them. (Yes, I've been with a date. Wrong man, right place, haha.)

Drrrama is a mecca for fashionoclasts, performers, awesome music, great drinks, a super-cool feel and happening every Thursday so get your name on the list!

Photo Credit: La Madre

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tick tick tick

By Aqua Catlin

I just got back from a 13 hour day of working, budgeting, rescheduling, email flurries, multiple discussions with multiple producers, image consulting, shopping with client (at Theory of course, he looks awe-some!), a drink at La Boheme (fabulous), more image consulting not to be discussed but involving tattoos.

And shortly I'll be going back to Drrrama. Its promised to be the best one yet. "Can't miss it" yells Leopold by text. There were names that were dropped. Names of girls famous for youth, fame, public breakdowns, bad relationships and partying. Didn't mention talent so don't assume. So, off I go! I'm tired but when its all this Drrramatic... its just so worth it.

Promise to post properly tomorrow! And I think Friday is a better day for it anyway!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

menswear paris spring/summer 2010

by frédérik sisa

Here’s a rundown on the good, the bad, and the WTF from the menswear shows at the Paris Spring/Summer 2010 fashion week, courtesy of the LA Times. Since we’re dealing with the big, thick-skinned fashion houses, snark mode may be in effect. Note: the power to embiggen images is yours, all yours, through the miracle of a mouse click.

Dries Van Noten delivers a collection rooted both in tweaked classics like pinstriped suits with cropped pants (meant for brogues without socks) and ensembles juxtaposing strikingly different patterns that bring back memories of the 70s, like plaid and what-have-you, whether you were there or not. Bold and playful without spilling over the top. I like it.

Dior stands out with nicely cut, layered, and flowing ensembles with smooth lines that come together to form a look that is both refined and relaxed. If ever the words “effortless chic” were appropriate, this collection deserves it.

Givenchy’s collection is a bit all over the place, with some overly-blinged pieces that scream hip-hop street style ground through the prep machine in a textile factory. But those pieces that retain an element of classicism demonstrate some of the best designs among any collection. To wit, this extraordinarily elegant white suit anchored in a mandarin collar shirt and this asymmetrical, geometrical, abstract shirt.

The Hugo Boss collection is best represented by the interesting combination of long-sleeve blazers with mid-thigh length shorts and gladiator sandals. This one is my favourite: a beautiful jacket with lots of buttons and a left lapel that folds asymmetrically over the right. Oddly enough, I think the long sleeves and shorts work well together. It’s like rebellious business wear, a summer protest against the stifling dress codes that ask men to melt in monkey suits.

Kenzo offers a rather nice collection, although his hats tend to go too far out of control .(Are those hats or man-snoods?). I especially love the print on the jacket at left, set off nicely by a familiar grey in the vest and pants. That whole ensemble is on of my favourites among all the collections; refined, forward-looking, but with enough tradition to work well for just about any sort of dress-up occasion. But details tend to bring down the unity of his design as in the suit-and-shorts ensemble at right. I don’t care who you are: socks don’t go with sandals. They just don't.

Proving that suits and suit-appropriate garments are the big winner in this menswear show, I love the overall design of this Vuitton jacket: straight-edge lapels, single-button tie. I’m not sure about the rolled up pants, but vividly coloured shoes really make the ensemble pop-out. Having said that, the overall colour palette in this particular ensembles strikes me as slightly off.

But here’s Raf Simon’s take on a similar design with the ever-reliable black & white two-punch. With an eye for formal elegance and judicious detailing, his collection is definitely one of the standouts.

And here’s the design concept taken up to a new, intriguing level with a cinching belt that adds unexpected detailing and helps shape the jacket.:

Then we get to Jean-Paul Gaultier, whose wrap-like pants (somewhat like Thai fisherman’s pants) strike a palpable hit. This is nice spin on the usual bifurcated garments. The impractical and implausible denim-bodice, however, rates a “hell no!”

While strolling in the weird, the presentation for the Blaak collection was certainly unusual. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get past the Charles Manson show to pay attention to the clothes.

Also raising a few questions is the Comme Des Garcon collection, which looks like an explosion at a quilt factory. “Garcon” (boy) is the right word ; this looks like clothes for children. Or maybe CDG is catering to the clown industry? The head bowl/condom beanie leaves me speechless.

So the big winners seem to be in the suit department, particularly the jackets. None of the arty stuff with next to zero chance of trickling down to the street really appeals in terms of wearable fashion or fashion art. I have to wonder, though, about all the bare chests. You’ll have to find those pictures for yourself, though.

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