27 October 2010

Fashion in Detroit: Bikinis make a Splash

The Detroit Free Press

The first day of Fashion in Detroit ended today with classic but modern dresses from designer Peter Hidalgo.

From the cleanly constructed woolen shifts — some with elbow-length sleeves, others strapless with menswear-style pockets — to the silky evening gowns with thigh-high front slits, and backs that look like capes, the show was pure sophistication and the highlight of the day.

It’s unfortunate more people didn’t see it.

The turnout for the first day of the two-day event — which is designed to showcase local designers and designers whose work is sold here — was minimal.

Lians Jadan, one of the event organizers, estimated attendance today was about 300 guests, and he said the onlookers were largely from the fashion industry. The location of the shows — the Soundboard at the Motor City Casino — holds about 1,100 people, he said, adding that he expected about 1,000 to show on Saturday.

Today’s round of shows started with a flirty collection by Adriana Pavon, winner of last year’s Fashion in Detroit local designer contest.

From flowing silk dresses to sassy A-line minis, the garments aspire to be the sort of clothes you’d pack for a glam trip to the Riviera. They’re fun without evoking the feeling that you’ve just spent your paycheck shopping in the junior department.

The standout of Pavon’s collection? A strapless evening gown with an icy blue leaf pattern on a silver background.

The swimsuits shown by local designer Trisha Geftos are not for shy girls.

With embellishments such as baby blue fringe hanging from one bikini and the word “love” written in sequins across the butt of another, and with members of the cat and zebra families well represented in still more, you’ve got to love your body and your booty to wear one of these.

Paging Kim Kardashian.

It should come as no surprise that Geftaki brand suits sell in Las Vegas and other glitzy resort areas. In fact, Paris Hilton has been photographed wearing one.

The showstopper was a black bikini woven with black ribbons and sequins and accented with a tiny skirt.

On the runway, Geftos’ suits were paired with big, lush leather bags handcrafted in leather by another local designer, Julie Lindsay. And guess what? Those had fringe, too. They also featured fur and bling.

Other highlights included button-down shirts for men and women with a ’60s vibe by for and a few knee-length coats made from luscious tapestry -- that’s English Laundry, a line from Christopher Wicks, former designer for Hang Ten and Ocean Pacific.

Meant to be influenced by the music of the 1960s and 1970s and mod prints of the era, many of the pieces (back to the tapestry coats) have a rock-n-roll British Invasion/psychedelic vibe.

The button-down blouses, midriff-baring for women as well as longer versions for both sexes, have embroidery embellishments and/or floral patterns that set them apart from the basic shirts you might find at a Banana Republic. A festive touch: up-turned cuffs in prints that coordinate nicely but don’t match the pattern on the shirt.

The gowns and cocktail dresses by Ines DiSanto made big statements. When they were bad, they veered toward flamenco. But when they were good, they were polished and glam.

But no matter what your taste — whether it’s a body conscious, sleeveless, above-the-knee cocktail gown that’s studded with shimmery pearls or ruffled merengue — you will feel more special than anyone else in the room.

How could you not?

While many of DiSanto’s dresses and gowns are strapless or sleeveless, the designer makes clever use of ruching and draping that that can disguise many figure flaws.

Known for her glamorous bridal gowns, the last of DiSanto’s 23 runway looks was a bridal gown with a train and full veil lovely enough for Snow White.

The best look of the show: a strapless, above-the-knee dress with fitted bodice and an A-line skirt. With sequins that sparkled like snow and a bit of fringed tulle peeking out from the hem, the model looked as if she was floating.

25 October 2010

13th China Fashion Week begins in Beijing

Global Times

China International Fashion Week 2011 Spring/Summer will begin today in Beijing with more than 60 events including runway shows, contests, forums and lectures on the program.

Over 30 designers and 50 fashion brands will take part in the week that is now in its 13th year and will run until November 1.

"We have many familiar faces, such as Mark Cheung and Qi Gang, who are like old friends, with more interaction between the Chinese fashion scene and the rest of the fashion world, but we also expect new and fresh things from those old friends," said Chen Yongxia, China Fashion Week's media director. "At the same time, new comers like TSE and JOOOYS may bring surprises as well."

Womenswear, menswear, lingerie and wedding apparel will all be represented, with designers including Donoratico, Lea Seong, Cabbeen and Gioia Pan scheduled to stage shows in venues across the city including 798 Art District and Beijing Hotel.

There are also design contests for young designers and students with five design awards to be presented including sports, leather and makeup. "Young people are the future of Chinese fashion. China Fashion Week always gives them a platform," Chen said. Fashion graduates from several major design institutes will also see their graduate works take to the catwalks.

Forums, debates and lectures will be held, with themes covering the future of fashion media production in a 3G era and next season's trends.

Exhibitions, art and tea ceremonies are expected to add to China Fashion Week's artistic atmosphere.

17 October 2010

Biketoberfest Fans say 'Anything Goes'

Orlando Sentinel

Biketoberfest attendees ogled at more than the slick custom-made motorcycles crawling up and down Main and Beach streets Saturday.

Men stumbled to pull out their cameras as chaps, tub tops and tiny bikinis that barely covered cleavage made it up the street. Some outfits made those of artist Lady Gaga look modest.

Fashion, or lack of it — depending on who you ask — is as much a part of the event as motorcycles. No matter people's sizes or whether they prefer to wear shirts with an American flag or fish nets, attendees say anything goes at Biketoberfest, which ends today.

Mini leather skirts were among the hottest items on sale at Paradise City Biker's Den, store manager Nichole Herron said. But co-worker Chris Kelly, 20, was surprised that the leather thongs weren't going as quickly.

Herron, 30, considers herself more of a traditional biker chic, wearing just jeans and T-shirts. Kelly, who also works as a drag queen, considers himself more of a fashion connoisseur. They offered their thoughts on fashion statements made Saturday. In spite of their comments, Kelly said that at the festival "anything goes" because "bikers don't care."

Mara Tripp

Biketoberfest is like Halloween, Mara Tripp says. "It's the only time I dress up." Daughters Christina and Erin, both in their late teens, buy her outfits for the four-day festival, which she has attended for years. The only criteria: they must be "sexy," the petite woman said.

"They're gifts from my daughters," Tripp, 48, of Port Orange, said. Tripp was selling beer in a black bathing suit and lacey fish-net shirt that draped over her rear. It covered little. She stopped men in their tracks every time she bent over to pick up ice or a cup. They whipped out the camera phones.

Tripp, who has been riding a motorcycle for 30 years, said she would never wear the clothes elsewhere. "No — I'm an insurance agent," she said.

HERRON'S CRITIQUE: "She knows how to get tips. If I looked like that, I would be wearing that, too."

KELLY'S CRITIQUE: "Love the lace. It makes her look slim."

Holli Ingels

Holli Ingels wore white leather chaps over a pair of undies and a low-cut spaghetti-strap tank top. The slender Atlanta woman said all is accepted at the festival and nobody cares how much of you shows.

Friends selected her outfits for the festival. "Just call me Barbie," Ingles, 52, said. She and her friends were looking at some skimpy outfits at a Main Street shop.

"It has to be provocative and classy," said friend John Lippens of Sanford. "I go to sleep, thinking of what she's going to wear."

HERRON: "You can tell her personality from her outfit. She's outgoing, she's not shy … I would never wear that."

KELLY: "Personally, I love it… [but] I think it's too much."

Mike Fair

Mike Fair, 55, decided to go with something more modest. He wrapped an American flag-printed bandanna around his head and wore a heavy jean vest that he customized. The vest, covered in pins, studs and dozens of beer can tabs, took five to six years to make. Also covering the vest were patches of the provocative cartoon character Betty Boop and Marvin the Martian, which matched a tattoo on his right arm.

"I like to be loud. … It's a conversational piece," said Fair, of Davenport. He's right. Several people stopped him on Beach Street to touch the vest and take pictures with him.

HERRON: "I like all the patches. I like the cane."

KELLY: "Very fun outfit, but the man has too much time on his hands."

Cat Miller and Maria Moquin

Cat Miller of Ormond Beach dazzled the blue cast on her arm with jewels. She hurt her wrist trying to decorate her motorcycle, which she says is the most important piece to her outfit. The bike was covered with Halloween decorations, including a artificial vulture, spider and freaky dolls.

Maria Moquin wore a black Mardi Gras mask and top hat. Moquin, of Daytona Beach, said she wore the mask "to cover my face so nobody would know it's me." A Harley Davidson motorcycle owner, she had to ride Miller's Honda into town since she couldn't drive with a cast.

Their fashion rule: wear "the most outrageous thing that won't fly off on our bikes," Moquin, 49, said.

Miller wore a bright orange cowboy hat and large choker with plastic spikes. Although they opted for jeans and T-shirts instead of revealing clothes, the women turned many heads. People stopped to take pictures of them. "We like attention," Miller, 60, said.

HERRON: "That's the typical look at Biketoberfest. … For a little flair, they threw on the hats and mask."

KELLY: "We love cat. We love the hat … [Maria] is a great biker chic with the hat. But the face mask has to go. Why cover a pretty face if you got one?"

03 October 2010

Is a Runway Show really Necessary?

NY Times

PARIS — On a giant screen figures swirl through a geometric landscape, morphing into a myriad of images. Finally the repeated forms focus into a centrifugal force: the single and particular figure of the model Kristen McMenamy — she of the long silver gray hair framing a strong face.

The 11-minute film that Gareth Pugh showed on Wednesday, the opening day of the Paris collections, was the fruit of much thought and two days of intense filming in London.

Ruth Hogben, trained as part of Nick Knight’s ShowStudio team and the creator of images for Lady Gaga’s world tour, was charged with capturing the essence of the Gareth Pugh aesthetic. Instead of a runway show, this presentation, projected to enormous size in the Paris Bercy stadium, is Mr. Pugh’s fashion tool.

In its bravura, its beauty and its possibility of going viral to hundreds of million of people via ShowStudio and over the Internet, this grand slam in the virtual world poses a question that is increasingly being asked by both designers and executives: Is a fashion show really necessary?

Or will the bi-annual shows in different cities ultimately be replaced by virtual fashion or some other yet-to-be-invented format?

“We just have to press a button,” said Mr. Pugh before the show, although with hindsight he admitted that it was not any easier — and certainly not any less expensive — to take the image option, even if it avoided the “uncontrollable stress” of the live format.

As a concept, he finds the idea of video sequences exhilarating, setting the mood and conveying the essence of his vision, backed up with a look book focused on the clothes.

“The perception is that people aren’t willing to accept something else,” said Mr. Pugh, 29, who has shown films previously — but more recently has given catwalk shows in Paris, where he has been supported as a protégé of the designer Rick Owens.

The process of bringing his team from London to “very foreign surroundings” and everything “relying on the single show” sparked his search for an alternative.

“With a show, a lot rides on that very small amount of time and the whole thing comes down to image,” Mr. Pugh said. “If a model trips or has a problem with shoes, that is the thing that endures. It is liberating for a designer not to have to worry about a show. You can get the models to be even more expressive and do it all in a more concise way.”

“I always think about things in movement,” said the designer, who once studied dance and made the film with a male dancer from the English National Ballet School, alongside Ms. McMenamy.

Yet the feeling persists that backing off from a runway show is a cop-out or a sign of weakness, although mini-movies are increasingly used by big brands to focus on a particular message. The series of Lady Dior films, starring the French actress Marion Cotillard, are astute marketing tools, particularly for regions like Asia — highlighted in the recent “Lady Blue Shanghai” by David Lynch. They complement the live Paris runway shows, excite and inspire an audience and set a tone and an image.

But for Ms. Hogben, in the Gareth Pugh film and in other visual work she has done for ShowStudio, the concept is not so much to grab attention as to arouse emotion.

“I spend my whole world and whole life thinking about films to make in the fashion genre,” Ms. Hogben said. “I follow my own heart and I hope that if I am successful, film can become an alternative to showing clothes.”

The filmmaker says that she is “completely led by Gareth’s designs. I try to make a representation of every piece of fabric, every shape and sculpture. I am trying to convey Gareth’s world. I play with scale, physically some parts are quite claustrophobic. There is a lot of freedom, depth and space — a vast, endless infinity of the world. This season it is very varied indeed.”

For both designer and filmmaker the optimal word is “emotion.” And that is at the heart of the issue about whether the screen can contribute to fashion, rather than just reflect it.

There is a general feeling that after a quarter of a century of catwalk shows, with zombie-faced models walking up and down, with no interaction between clothes and audience, this system is coagulating fashion blood rather than making pulses race.

While the shows from John Galliano and of the late Alexander McQueen in the 1990s were unforgettable experiences, from liaisons dangereuses of historic figures to disturbing suggestions of a lunatic asylum, those creative expressions were essentially fashion as theater.

The digital camera and the Internet changed everything because even exceptional shows could only be instantly relived as still images on Style.com or as video clips.

Now there is the possibility of made-for-cyberspace fashion shows, which can be seen in their pure and intended form forever, or manipulated as teasers on YouTube. Instead of the media editing what seem to be the crucial elements and outfits, the designer retains control and takes the images straight to the public.

“It’s like going from theater to cinema — and I absolutely believe it is going to happen for three reasons,” said Mr. Knight, the great originator and instigator of fashion live on film.

“Firstly, it is a true artistic expression that the designers can control,” he said. “Secondly they can get so many more people, from 300 to three million. And because — although it hasn’t happened yet — designers will want to sell their clothes.”

Mr. Knight believes that someone who says “I love that Gareth Pugh silver coat” will be able to place an order directly from the Internet (as Burberry is already doing), avoiding all e-commerce or brick-and-mortar stores — a daunting possibility of an earthquake in consumer shopping.

Mr. Knight also knows that ending the twice-a-year shows in major cities would meet with opposition from all vested interests. Therefore it is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

The question for people who love and enjoy fashion is whether virtual shows, or expressions of creative ideas via the camera eye, can satisfactorily replace live shows.

Adrian Joffe, the president of Comme des Garçons International and the right hand of its designer, Rei Kawakubo, used film to great effect in 2009 with “Wonderwood,” a short film by the artistic Quay brothers to express the beauty of a fragrance based on raw wood. Mr. Joffe, who banned any suggestion of a perfume bottle on the screen, called the work “an evocation of the spirit of a thing.”

Could such a concept work for Comme’s original and imaginative fashion?

“Rei is dying to find another way to show her clothes,” said Mr. Joffe, but he added that Ms. Kawakubo, who has always ruled out a static presentation, finds it hard to envisage how the texture and feel of the clothes could be expressed on film, along with the feeling.

Mr. Pugh’s decision was not to have the film showing in one area and the collection displayed in another — an idea that has been pursued by sensitive, artistic and intelligent designers like Hussein Chalayan.

Instead, the modular jackets, the rubberized neoprene, the stretch silk jersey and the high-tech effects of geometric silicone pattern and digitally printed clothes — most of that a breakthrough for the designer — can be seen by professionals in the still images. Yet the designer knows that photographs are not really a substitute for a show or for the movie.

Mr. Pugh calls the stills “a way not to scare people off,” since showing “merely” a film tends to alarm buyers and to discourage some press.

Mr. Knight believes that everything is working in favor of halting the caravansary of models, buyers and press who travel extensively each year: the cost, the pressure to reduce carbon footprints and fashion’s essential yearning for change.

He considers his ShowStudio a sound environment to show fashion, with the right values, while “the language of fashion” does not exist in the cacophony of YouTube.

“But the films have to be good,” Mr. Knight said. “What Gareth has done is created a great piece of entertainment.”