Friday, 27 February 2009

I know I'm broke but....

So, I don't know if you've heard, but there's a recession on. Apparently the asswipes who work(ed) in finance and whose take-home pay was equivalent to the GDP of a small island nation, totally screwed up the economy while the rest of us were being paid in paper clips and good wishes. (Although in my case it was more like shampoo samples and good wishes.) As a result, I'm having a really difficult time mustering up empathy for the bankers and brokers who can't afford their bloated mortgage payments and have to terminate their Porsche SUV leases early.

But the worst part is the domino effect it's had. Now we're all broke. One the one hand sure, misery enjoys company. On the other, screw company! I want next season's YSL cage-pumps, right? In response to this, the shopping-obsessed among us have decided a viable alternative is to have a clothes swapping party with our equally fashion-minded friends, otherwise known as "swishing." Oh, how coy to use a variation on the word "swish", as though resorting to wearing your friend's discarded t-shirt isn't just a teensy bit anti-climactic. It's one thing to pass on a blouse or a handbag to an admiring friend, it's quite another to cull your spring wardrobe from the closets of women you know and hang out with.

Reports abound these days about how even socialites are holding swishing parties, exchanging high-end designer frocks with their pals in an effort to be more money and eco-conscious. Seriously? These women are the reason waiting lists were invented; I find it hard to believe they would run the risk of being photographed in the same coat their BFF was wearing in last month's Page Six spread. Also, we're talking about a contingent of society whose sole purpose in life is to tow the rich-thin-beautiful line. You really think if one of them was feeling bloated one day and bought a pair of trousers in a size 4 she'd be putting them on display for all her bobbleheaded friends to see and judge? C'mon.

But aside from all this, why am I so reluctant to wear my friends' clothes when I've been known to troll a vintage store or flea market in my day? Clearly I'm not grossed out by the idea of used clothing. In a nutshell: it makes me uncomfortable. What if my friend sees a blouse or a blazer on me and regrets handing it over? Will she ask for it back? What if she thinks I'm not wearing it right? Or worse, I'm wearing it better than she ever did. What if I'm not treating it with respect and care? Or I accidentally refer to it as "this old thing"? But worst of all, what if the proverbial shoe is on the other foot and I'm the one thinking all these things about her? We live in a world where women dress for other women, where if our friend is upset over a bad haircut we console her with lies of "But The Rachel is back!", and where oftentimes our greatest fears are realized when the women we think we know so well land up with a mate we cannot stomach. Why make things more complicated? I, for one, will avoid shopping for the time being. And if I'm really jonesing, will dip into my mom's closet for some vintage finds. After all, I'm used to her judging me, quietly or otherwise.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Shooting the chic

In this ongoing section I will be scouring the wires for outlandish, outrageous, cah-raaazy snippets of fashion-speak that deserve to be brought to the attention of the greater consciousness. If for no other reason, because it gives me a chance to (virtually) point and laugh. Won't you join me?

"I am completely drunk with compliments." —Valentino

"Now that hat signifies even more things: the moon, isolation, ambition, showbiz and space travel." —Casey Spooner of Fischerspooner

"I have designed a T-shirt which has more of a street/jeans feeling which I feel fits in with this project." —Paul Smith on designing a t-shirt for charitable organization War Child

"I don't want cherries or strawberries at Christmas anymore. I want to eat, dress and live on time." —Stefano Gabbana

"I don't know Heidi Klum. She was never known in France. Claudia Schiffer also doesn't know who she is." —Karl Lagerfeld

"I'm so involved in melancholy." —Isaac Mizrahi

"You like? You are happy? Yes? Okay, go! Go in the street!" —Domenico Dolce

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Save the models!

Because I have a knack for spotting a shadow of evil in a ray of good: Apparently Premier Model Management in London created a "Model Safety Pack" for the crop of young foreign girls who are working London fashion week for the first time. It contains tips for travelling safely through the city [ya, don't take a cab or you'll have to sell your body to pay the metre fare], emergency address and contact details [how long until some poor Brazilian girl realizes The Hospital is actually a private members-only club in Covent Garden?], and a phone with a pay-as-you-go SIM card [presumably there's no money on the SIM card. So, uh, thanks]. reports that the girls were given a base in central London, provided with nutritious meals and a 24-hour helpline manned by Premier staff to ensure their week went without a hitch.

Here's what I imagine to be a sample helpline phone call:

Premier Helpline: 'ello 'ello

Confused Model: I am lost. I come for meeting with designer and cannot find office.

PH: Right, what you need to do is trot down to Bumrush Road until you hit Cockfosters. Go to the Tit's Nips and ask for Dick, e's my best china. Tell him to give you some judy and punch. He'll probably throw in an oily rag if you're a good ribbon and curl. But whatever you do don't soil your baked beans!

CM: But.... I..... Uh..... What?

PH: Don't. Soil. Your. Baked. Beans. You know what they say, love, how can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

CM: But I'm not hungry.

PH: Oi, we're all hungry for a little gay and frisky every now and again, love.

CM: I am gay?

PH: Eyes of blue.

CM: O, Cristo!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Colour me bored

There's an old, really tasteless joke that goes: What's black and white and red all over? A nun falling down the stairs. I don't know who told me that "joke" (is it even funny?) or why I remember it, but it's what sprang to mind during Sunday night's Oscars. Not because there were any clumsy clergy people messing about, but because the red carpet was awash in boring gowns in those same colours.

Black: the safest of them all; revered for its slimming properties, and ability to mask wrinkled fabric, dimpled bottoms and spilled skim chai moca lattes with low-cal chocolate shavings; boring.

White: the riskiest of all colours; reviled for its knack for highlighting the area of the thighs where 4am pizza binges go to die, and its ability to attract stains without being anywhere near dirt or a dirt-wielding tool (I swear, I once got a white dress dirty just by standing in the middle of an empty room and looking to the left); evil.

Red: friend to both blonde and brunette; the go-to colour for middle aged ladies looking to "mix it up"; Valentino's favourite, therefore garnering insta-chic appeal; attributed to Santa Claus during the period of mid-October through early January, and really, who wants to be linked to a fat man with a sweet tooth?; predictable.

I'm not saying there weren't ladies who looked smashing last night — Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Jennifer Aniston (in time, you will learn of my love for her), Amy Adams, Evan Rachel Wood, Robin Wright Penn, Taraji P. Henson, John Legend's smokin' hot date — looked beautiful, resplendent even. I will even tip my hat to the ones I don't particularly care for: Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway (though I feel like this young vixen is consistently shopping in the seniors aisle. Wear something flirty and youthful, already!). But I long for the days of swan dresses, backwards tuxedos and sparkly showgirl getups with headdresses. Why is everyone so afraid of landing on a worst dressed list these days? Don't we all buy those trashy tabloids specifically for the "fashion police" and "what were they thinking" sections? Isn't it more enjoyable to bask in the glory of red carpet premiere schaudenfreude? Weren't Gwyneth's pit stains way more interesting than her Pepto pink dress? Didn't we all want Drizella to get the Prince really wasted and have her way with him on Cinderella's bed? I think I've said too much...

Don't get me wrong, there were definitely some stinkers out there. Beyonce, Sarah Jessica Parker, Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens pop to mind. But theirs were not risks, they were just examples of bad stylists and poor judgement. And in Miley's case a reluctance to exorcize the Disney demons. I long for the Bob Mackies of yesteryear. I'm talking about over-the-top, out-of-the-park, off-her-rocker, forgot-her-meds, just-off-a-bender train wrecks. I want Cher! Bring back Bjork! Where's Cybill? And if one of them could top off her look with Aretha's Inauguration Day hat, that would be really cool too.