Tag Archives: Video

Giorgio Armani, 1984

“The Armani look of studied simplicity has such strength it tends to make conventionally designed women’s clothes look overdone.”


If On a Winter’s Night A Traveler

Carly Simon, 1982

Happy Valentines Day

Isaac Mizrahi, 2011

Confectioner’s cakes, colored poodles, giant bows? Mizrahi cheerfully digs into American upper class cliché, activating his signature sarcastic wit, given life through his unique vision of classicism and kitsch. It’s a frightful and delightful amalgam of camp and couture and despite the show dogs and pastry chefs there are some really exquisite clothes, some of his best in years. Transforming his oxymoronic themes into an exploration of subdued turbid color, discreetly ostentatious form, and quietly loud prints, the result is far more complex than a quick gander might perceive. It’s about Mizrahi’s humor; his ability to bastardize the magnificently mundane and make from it wearable, elegant and strange clothes. It’s also Mizrahi’s sophistication, beginning with his initial experiments at subverting couture fantasy and American ease over two decades ago; when he first brought American fashion up to speed with the post-modern currents that would define the 90s. And now 20 years later and in a much quieter spot, far removed fron the roar and din that had greeted his debut, the crowned prince of American fashion still doesn’t have a thing to prove.

Michael Kors, 1993

Kors hesitantly cites the 1970’s as an inspriation but what he really means are the ’30s. It’s an easy enough mistake as the ’70s mined its long lean line, relaxed volumes, and easy casual spirit from that post-depression, inter-war period, and so the two are not all that different. But as it was reprised in the early ’90s, in the form of minimalist luxurious sportswear, the essence is more true to that earlier decade. For Kors and Lauren it served as a refreshing inspiration, especially after a decade of excess, but they aren’t the first to realize it, Armani  had known all along.

The Space Age, 1969

In 1969, West German television program PARIS AKTUELL broadcasted the future through choreographed fashion vignettes set to the tune of Piero Piccioni and Mike Melvoin. The films capture a whole decade’s worth of dreams, built on rocketships to the stars. The Space Age would be a defining era, holding promise for the world of tomorrow. For designers Cardin, Rabanne, and Courreges, it would be a true romance. While their fascinations with the future proved to be no more than a fancy of the imagination, their eloquence and conviction of expression is certainly something to ponder.

Versace, 1994


At a certain point Versace’s rococo ambitions would cede to the shifting mood of the ’90s, parlaying his outlandish style into something sleeker, cleaner, and just us titillating. Versace was always an ingenious cutter, even if the years of tromp l’oeil prints and gem embellishments obscured that, and so the shift would only open up another realm of discovery. Most notable is the finale of safety-pin dresses, one most famously worn by Elizabeth Hurley — nothing more scandalous, suggestive, and yet minimal than a dress barely pinned at the seams. Also noteworthy is the young Kate Moss opening the show; a total contradiction of the Amazonian Versace woman, literally pale in comparison to a Naomi Campbell or Veronica Web, she would represent a new ideal for the next decade and then some. The lack of irony and cynicism is remarkable, it’s totally optimistic and speaks as much to the era’s unique outlook in a transitional moment as it does to Gianni’s relentless search for classical romance and celebration of life. There is an undeniable confidence, both sexually and artistically, and an assured sense of joyousness. If it seems vaguely banal today, or even trite, it was only just as fresh and inspiring in 1994.

Isaac Mizrahi, 1990

Mizrahi elaborates on his Spring/Summer 1990 collection for CNN’s Elsa Klensch

Twenty years ago, New York saw the rise of the first generation of American designers who could oblige the post-modern values which had begun to alter the course of fashion; negotiating the tricky re-evaluation of luxury, exclusivity, and glamour. Let’s call them the post-Perry Ellis generation: designers who had witnessed Ellis’s subversion and repositioning of classic Americana and his cheery exploitation of the sacred and profane. Ellis had pulled off a coup in American sportswear, essentially creating “anti-fashion” with his kitschy motifs, wrinkled fabrics, and casual ease. He challenged almost every notion of bourgeois or preppy good taste and appropriate dress and he was loved for it. One important value that Ellis would impart to this new generation would be a steadfast strain of individuality – designing clothes that could act as a total macrocosm for the wearer, a solipsist cocoon that could staunchly withstand any outside pressures (a terribly American idea, of course). Ellis, and those who followed him, made clothes that seemed immune to to any imposing fashion discourse; they were not reactionary because they existed in their own universe and could never know anything beyond it.

The other important impression that Ellis would leave, in fact, it is the most important idea behind Ellis’s legacy, is humor: the ability to laugh and have fun — to brush the weight of the world off your shoulder and not charge ahead, but skip merrily. It would open up a whole new set of paradigms for the ‘90s and allow for innovations not only in design but fashion marketing and culture. And so, 20 years ago, as fashion was moving on from a global economic upset, while Paris had Martin Margiela and Helmut Lang and Milan had Miuccia Prada, each laying the blueprints for a new world order of fashion; New York had Isaac Mizrahi…

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Commercials for the Japanese department store, directed by Kazumi Kurigami, conceived by Eiko Ishioka

Patrik Ervell, 2010

The triumphantly reserved repetitious drone of Terry Riley makes a  fitting soundtrack for Patrik Ervell’s Fall/Winter 2010 collection and the parade of pubescent boys he showed it on. The clothes, like the music, speak to a minimalist desire (a cause but not an effect) to relinquish references, a tabula rasa, a foundation for one’s unique identity to shine. For Ervell, the new masculinity is not rooted in subcultural subversion or a reversal of body image lexicons, never anything so obviously “cool”. It is the noble tension of the extravagantly mundane, the proudly plain, without affectations or compromise.