Tag Archives: Chanel

Middling length

Stop the presses, ladies, the new skirts are here. The spring 2011 fashions have arrived just in time to put an end to that confounding dilemma: mini or maxi?

Chloe, from Style.com

Past seasons have sat with extremes: the mini skirt, ranging between above the knee to dangerously short, and the maxi skirt, an ankle-grazing option that can swing elegant, bohemian or even punk. There was a mild flirtation with full, swingy fifties/early sixties-style knee-length skirts, but just like that time I fell for “The Leader of the Pack,” it wasn’t meant to last.

These new midi skirts range from just below the knee to mid calf. They are fitted and Pink-Ladies-style sexy, pleated and flowy or alarmingly sheer and paired with granny panties. Which only works on the runway, and sometimes not even then.

Though this new length can be quite difficult to pull off – mid-calf length is not the most flattering to women or legs – the number of options makes me think this is a challenge that can be won. Some, like Chloé’s pleated, cocoa-colored option, call to mind an extremely elegant ballerina. And the movement of the skirt would prevent the hemline from cutting the wearer in half and making her resemble some sort of mushroom.

Chanel, from Style.com

Others, however, are less flattering. Chanel’s petal-pink dress with ruffled sleeves and underskirt evokes a baby’s christening gown rather than couture. The trapezoidal silhouette doesn’t do anyone any favors either. Seems this middle length would be most flattering if worn with something fitted up top, just to remind others that you do, indeed, have a figure under there.

Multiple spring runways also paired these skirts with ballet flats, again emphasizing the ballerina look. But unless you are six feet tall or have ankles like popsicle sticks, you are in danger of doing the mushroom. Heels might be better – like Tyra always says, best to look tall, even if you aren’t. The resulting look would make Audrey Hepburn proud.

So, rather than swing from long to short, let’s settle for somewhere in the middle. Perhaps this new length will bring balance to things other than just our fluctuating hemlines.

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The career slash

Kate Moss is reportedly cutting a CD. Which will, of course, be as wildly successful as everything else she touches, including cut-off jean shorts, wellies, Topshop and that whole date-a-musician grunge glamour thing. So, Kate is now a model/designer/muse/singer – truly an impressive hybrid career moniker.

The new thing to be, at least according to Moss’ example and media outlets such as the New York Times and Vogue, is a hybrid. But not just the tired actress/model/designer combination; that’s old hat. Save, of course, for Moss, who can do anything and still be awesome. Now, the hybrid has to be a combination of intellectual achievement, artistic credibility and flat-out fabulousness that only partially stems from access to an extensive designer wardrobe. Take the examples mentioned in the January issue of Vogue: Model/graduate student who has achieved the impossible by finding time not spent in class, studying or sleeping in which to actually be a model. (Grad school is all-encompassing.) College student/DJ/fashion show front-row fixture.  Actress/photographer/model/face of Chanel.

The New York Times recently ran a piece featuring a 19 year-old (let that sink in) who is equal parts student, author, socialite/debutante, lobbyist, Gossip Girl inspiration and apparent royalty. It’s exhausting just reading about her.

Such features makes me wonder if I’m going about things all wrong. Instead of spending my college years writing papers and singing a cappella, and grad school working constantly and not sleeping enough, maybe I should have been writing my memoir. Or lobbying congress. Or crashing fashion shows. Though to be fair, I went to school in St. Louis – not quite next door to Bryant Park and Lincoln Center.

I am too short to be a model. Too boring to have a memoir (yet). Too unmotivated to lobby congress. And I don’t have an extensive designer wardrobe or family connections to royalty. My slash, if I had one, would be writer/editor/bookworm/geek/shower opera singer. None of which, I might add, would net me a mention in Vogue’s hallowed pages.

But then I wonder. I am a great bookworm/geek, thanks to the time I have spent reading, studying and depriving myself of sleep in pursuit of my degrees. If I was to also be a lobbyist/model/socialite, how good would I be? I’ve tried to be perfect before – my grade and high school years had me running around like my pants were on fire trying to be the best student, the best singer, the best field hockey player, the best at accumulating community service hours, the best insert-something-here. But a lack of time to devote to each pursuit got in the way. And math. I was never tops at math.

I envy these women’s accomplished slash careers and their seeming acquisition of a Harry Potter-esque time turner in order to be able to do it all. It would be nice to be a fixture at the fashion shows, friends with Karl Lagerfeld, known face in congress. But perhaps it’s more satisfying to take the time to fully immerse myself in something I find interesting, rather than just skimming off the top. Now all I need is for Chanel to realize that short, pale Dorothy Parker-aspirants are the next big thing. Friends, ready your slashes – our time will come.

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I skinned a wookie for fashion

Though I like to think of myself as somewhat knowledgable about fashion, there is one fashion don’t I constantly commit: I wear uggs. Big, black, furry-only-on-the-inside ugly uggs. You see, my feet are always freezing. It could be 95 degrees, middle of summer, and my toes feel like I’ve just pulled them out of a bowl of ice water. I’ve been told it’s poor circulation, but whatever it is, the first time I sank my chilly feet into a pair of big, fuzzy ugg boots, I was sold. So warm. I think my toes actually sighed in relief.

So, I’ve worn uggs for years. Only with pants, though – the combination of uggs and miniskirts, especially with my chicken legs, is too awful even for someone with feet like mine to consider. However, it seems my years of loyalty have paid off. Given what I’ve seen on the fall runways, my block-like boots are on the tamer end of the fashion spectrum.

Chanel, that beacon of chic, shoved models down its fall runways (in March – the fashion industry runs six months ahead) in boots that looked like Karl Lagerfeld cut Chewbacca’s legs off below the knee. These extra-large, extra-furry boots, however, seemed tame in comparison to the furry jumpsuits that opened the show and the icebergs (imported!) which decorated the runway. Perhaps the boots were meant to keep the models from getting frostbite?

D&G, the sister line of Dolce and Gabbana, also embraced the furry boots trend, but then took the haute ski bunny look a step further. Where Chanel showed boots with fur-trimmed versions of its classic tweed suit, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana sent models down their runway in knit nordic-print onesies and long-sleeved leotards. Perfect for those who like designer long underwear.

While I think I get the ideas behind these furry collections – that the apres-ski look, with its connotation of health and outdoorsiness, is back in; that fur will help keep us cozy in winter’s harsh climate (and, perhaps it will also comfort us in these tough times, though that might be a bit of a stretch) –  I find myself hoping that these collections were done tongue in cheek. Over-the-top fur (faux and real) and exceedingly impractical knitwear could be an attempt to bring some levity into what has recently been a bleak landscape, both for the fashion industry and the economy in general. Though frostbitten thighs – the only skin not covered by these furry boots and knit bottoms – aren’t exactly a laugh riot.

I, for one, plan to stick with my uggs. Though they might not be fashionable, I will never be suspect in a wookie hit-and-run. And they will keep my frozen feet safe from Chanel’s ice-covered vision of winter. Though I might have to get myself a nordic sweater. But sans the leotard part – I like to keep an open mind, but a sweater that doubles as underwear is just a bit too much for me.

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A crash course in couture

*From the 2010 Dior show in the gardens of the Musee Rodin in Paris.

The Paris couture shows are underway, and Cathy Horn of the New York Times, as well as many other fashion-oriented media outlets, are reviewing the bejeweled, be-ribbioned, be-ruffled confections stomping down the runways. Couture is a small but revered part of the fashion industry, so I thought I’d provide a little history to put these incredible (and incredibly expensive) collections into context. Continue reading

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