Friday, July 29, 2011

Dress Codes in New York Clubs: Will This Get Me In?

GENTLEMEN who prefer Ed Hardy shirts, those dragon-happy hallmarks of “Jersey Shore” chic, will not be getting into the Mulberry Project, the subterranean speakeasy cocktail lounge in Little Italy, any time soon. If you prefer your dress shirts colorful and boldly striped, don’t bother with the club Provocateur, in the meatpacking district. Baggy, low-slung jeans your style? Lots of East Village bars may be O.K. with that, but there will be no Continental for you tonight.

Dress codes have long been the secret language of New York City night life; fluency can mean the difference between an epic night out and a humiliating kick to the curb. “There’s nothing that dresses a room like a crowd,” said Ian Parms, an owner of the Mulberry Project. “The ambience of the experience is the people around you, so it’s important for us to keep those people fashion-forward and eclectic and interesting and engaging.”

Beyond being inherently snobbish, such selectivity has invited charges of racism. In December, the New York City Commission on Human Rights opened an investigation (still in progress) into the Continental, a sports bar in the East Village on Third Avenue, for its “no baggy jeans or bling” policy, which civil rights groups called a barely concealed ploy to keep out blacks. Trigger Smith, the owner of the Continental, denied that he was trying to exclude people of a certain race. “It just so happens that more minorities wear these” kinds of clothes, he told The New York Times in January. “There isn’t a racist bone in my body.” One reason some may have found the Continental’s policy hard to swallow is the bar’s otherwise obvious lack of interest in fashion. On a typical Saturday night, the Continental’s mixture of frat boys and barflies sports an unironic mélange of ripped blue jeans, grubby backpacks, baseball hats and sneakers. (And for what it’s worth, the crowd was about 30 percent black on a visit in April.)

But Mr. Smith’s defense illuminates a truth about dress codes at even the most exclusive velvet-roped clubs: they are frequently intended to keep out a certain type of person. The clothes themselves are secondary.

Michael Satsky, proprietor of Provocateur, at the Gansevoort Hotel (but now on a brief summer hiatus), admitted that he strived to keep his bar free of the randy bridge-and-tunnel boys who prowl the neighborhood on weekends. Luckily for him, they apparently self-identify through their shirts.

“We do not do plaid, and we don’t do stripes,” he said. The ideal Provocateur guest “doesn’t have to wear crazy stripes on his shirt to draw attention to himself.” (Plaid was just fine, however, at the closing night of Beige in the East Village a few months ago, where nearly every fashionable gay man who showed up seemed to be clad in a gingham shirt.)

Mr. Satsky suggests that his male patrons wear “a blazer, a solid button-down or a solid sweater.” For women, shoes are key. “Minimum five-inch heel,” he said. “Christians are our favorite,” he added, referring not to the faithful but to Christian Louboutin, the designer known for his red soles. Jimmy Choo and Christian Dior are also welcome. If the crowd in Provocateur on any given night is a gauge, being European, gorgeous and at least 5-foot-10 is good, too.

An injunction against flannel, shorts and other typical brunch fashions helps convey the message that the sparklers-and-champagne bacchanal known as the Day and Night Brunch, which until June was held at the Plaza, is for socialites and financiers, not hotel guests in search of French toast, said Daniel Koch, who runs the weekly party with his twin brother, Derek.

“You get guys in from L.A., they think a brunch is a brunch,” Mr. Koch said. “We have to say, ‘Look, dude, this isn’t what you think it is.’ You can’t rock a T-shirt here unless you’re a rock star.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Extremism at the Amsterdam International Fashion Week. The dress of the future is no longer made of cloth.It's all about expirimenting with different kinds of material. Only think about Iris van Herpen. Dutch designer Winde Rienstra turns cheap materials into airy cage constructions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fashion Week Swim's Most Outrageous Bathing Suit Statements

Fashion Week Swim always brings out the best and the brightest beachwear looks...or at least the brightest.

While the shiny, slinky, strappy ensembles certainly lit up Miami's runways, we have to wonder which of these swimwear get-ups would actually work on the beach. Hey, Herve Leger's $1,050 bandage bathing suit that can't be worn in water had to get its start somewhere.

Take a look at the nuttiest numbers from Fashion Week Swim and tell us: which of these suits (and turbans, feathers or veils) would you sport in the sand?

Fancy Feathers

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Weird Fashion

Monday, July 18, 2011

For Her New Look, Beyoncé Goes Under the Radar

As with other leading pop music divas like Lady Gaga, Rihanna & Katy Perry, fashion has always played a large role in Ms. Knowles's artistic persona. In her music videos, he makes use of outfits to take on different roles - from sexy diva in sky-high heels & a leotard in "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" to joyful bride in a wedding dress for her latest video "Best Thing I Seldom Had" - while onstage, revealing ensembles spice up her live performances.

Beyonce Knowles's latest chart-topping album hit stores less than a month ago. But it is not the singer's music that has the fashion world buzzing. The fourth album by the artist, titled "4," features a fold-out cover that looks more like a shiny fashion journal spread than a record sleeve.

The difference, this time, is in her choice of designers. In lieu of sticking to major fashion houses like Versace, Gucci, Prada or Chanel, the singer has thrown the spotlight on a lot of up-and-coming designers whose names are likely to be unfamiliar to all but the most diehard fashion followers.

Ms. Knowles's creative director, Jenke-Ahmed Tailly, along with the singer's stylist Ty Hunter, pointed her in the direction of these designers. "The album is a musical gumbo of everything Beyonce likes," said Mr. Tailly in an interview by phone. "Each song has a different character so they decided to do the cover like an article for a journal, with each song having its own style."

The album's cover picture illustrates the singer's embrace of under-the-radar creators & features Ms. Knowles wearing a fox-fur stole by the cult Spanish designer Alexandre Vauthier embellished with Swarovski crystals by the Lesage embroidery house. Mr. Vauthier's work also shows up inside the fold-out cover, as does a pair of "Daisy Duke" shorts by the young Spanish designer Julien Fournie, who founded his brand only years ago. Even student designers got a look-in: Leah Rae, who is studying at the Fashion Institute of Know-how in New York, created a form-fitting lemon-yellow mini-dress for the album spread.

"It was important to Beyonce that the choice of clothing not be about the brand but about the quality of the work," said Mr. Tailly who, with the creative consultant Melina Matsoukas, brought Ms. Rae's designs to the singer's attention.

For the "deluxe" version of the album, which features additional songs & remixes, a photograph of Ms. Knowles in a purple-and-black beaded dress by the 27-year-old Spanish designer Maxime Simoens replaced the fur stole as the cover picture. On the back of both versions of the album, the singer is photographed in a vintage Azzedine Alaia jacket & some gravity-defying high heels by the 36-year-old Dutch designer Jan Taminiau.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Styles | Sirens

The hazy and humid days of summer are upon us, and it seems many are coming down with a case of scarlet fever. Rather than run around in barely there ensembles, women are wearing clothes that get attention for their vivid color. The English television presenter Fearne Cotton keeps things casual in cheery off-shades, while the actress Charlotte Poutrel goes glamorous and the model Karolina Kurkova dazzles in floor-length silk. The heat is on.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Warm Weather Brings a T-Shirt Shortage of Sorts

THERE is one thing that Britney Spears, circa-1980s Madonna, Gwen Stefani, "I Dream of Jeannie," the Spice Girls, "Clueless" and Matt Dillon in "Over the Edge" have in common: a devotion to the crop top.

And now this belly-baring slice of a shirt is back. It can be found in the collections of Alexander Wang, Phillip Lim, Bodkin, Lover, VPL and Rachel Comey, or on the racks at Forever 21, American Apparel and Urban Outfitters.

"We sell tons of them," said Tina Song, the buyer for the online boutique La Garçonne. "They’re having a peak moment, but it has been slowly building over a couple seasons."

But this isn’t the shrunken top, championed by pop stars of the late ‘90s and requiring taut abdominals; today’s crop tops are longer and boxier than in the past. "This is not a baby-doll tee worn with three-inch-rise Frankie B. jeans," said Mitra Khayyam, the owner of the Los Angeles-based T-shirt company Blood Is the New Black, which started carrying cropped shirts this year.

Ms. Khayyam noted that this isn’t a look strictly for the naturally thin. "They can be worn by size 0 to size 10," she said, "because you’re not exposing your midriff as much as drawing attention to your waist."

Devotees are specific about whereon the body the crop top should hit. "There’s a certain length that’s appropriate: just below or to my belly button — no one wants to see my love handles when I’m wearing a crop top," said Sabrina Bacon, 22, a freelance fashion assistant who lives in the East Village. She began wearing crop tops three and a half years ago when she cut in half a too-long shirt that had been given to her and “didn’t look good with anything."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Becoming One of the ‘Relevant’

ON a recent Friday night, Bebe Zeva, a teenage fashion blogger, journalist and model based in Las Vegas, was dining at the restaurant Lodge in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with a group of 20-something contributors to the online magazine Thought Catalog.

The blogger Bebe Zeva is 18 and an Internet fashion celebrity.

“I like to concentrate on the cuteness of what I’m eating,” Ms. Zeva said. She had switched from coconut and almond vegan ice cream to a skirt steak. In a black minidress, black stockings, a sheer black and navy metallic robe and a floppy black hat, with dozens of long silver and gold chains slung from her neck, she looked like a brunette Stevie Nicks in miniature.

“Don’t leave the house unless you look like you’re going to a funeral,” was Ms. Zeva’s style rule for the weekend, which she was spending in the company of Leigh Alexander, a video-gaming journalist. Ms. Zeva calls this style Cyber Goth.

When someone at the table asked Ms. Zeva her age (she recently turned 18), the novelist and poet Tao Lin said: “She looks a lot more like 12 to me. But she seems like a genius.”

Ms. Zeva was in town for the premiere screening of “Bebe Zeva,” a feature-length video produced by Mr. Lin and Megan Boyle, who are selling it through their Web site, (It was also screened this spring in Houston.)

In January Ms. Zeva appeared in Seventeen magazine, dispensing style advice. Later she was named a judge at the WWD Magic trade show, which will be held in her hometown in August. On April 1, Elle’s blog asked, “Is Bebe the new Tavi?” referring to Tavi Gevinson, the 15-year-old who became a New York Fashion Week staple after starting a blog at age 11 from her home in Illinois. Mr. Lin helped cast Ms. Zeva as Audrey, an ingénue, in a planned film adaptation of his novel “Shoplifting From American Apparel.”

All of this has come naturally to Ms. Zeva, who discusses the contours of her “career” with an endearing nonchalance. She was born in 1993 in Miami Beach. “Bebe” was a nickname she earned when her sister, Rachel, wasn’t able to pronounce her real name, which she does not reveal publicly. “Zeva” derives from a Hebrew word that means “she-wolf,” and she adopted it as a screen name at her mother’s insistence that she not use her real name upon joining MySpace. (While Ms. Zeva does not use her birth name publicly, she said she intends to legally change her name to Bebe Zeva in the near future.)

With her mother and sister she moved to Springfield, Mass., when she was 6 years old. They stayed for five years, then moved to St. Louis for a year before coming to Las Vegas, where she now lives in a high-rise condo on the Strip.

Ms. Zeva’s evolving sense of chic sprang from a period of alienation she suffered during high school, where she found herself surrounded by peers she terms “lifers” — those whose lives are defined by “God, softball and the suburbs.”

“I wore flared jeans and tight-fitting crewneck T-shirts from the likes of Hollister and Abercrombie up until my second semester of freshman year,” Ms. Zeva wrote in an e-mail after the night at Lodge, “when I made the conscious decision to pursue the hipster lifestyle.”

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hermione Granger: Fashion Plate

Arriving in London Thursday afternoon, after seeing the couture collections in Paris, was a surreal experience — and not just because of the breaking news that The News of the World was being shut down by Rupert Murdoch because of the hacking scandal. Outside my hotel, thousands of teenagers were swarming their way toward Leicester Square, hundreds of policemen herding them on their way, and at least three or four helicopters hovering overhead. What was going on?
From left, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.
Dave Hogan/Getty ImagesFrom left, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

Turns out it was the world premiere of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the final installment in that film series. (The kids decked out in old-fashioned school uniforms should have been a clue.)

Ms. Watson wore a dress from the Elie Saab spring 2011 collection to the movie's after party.
Dave Hogan/Getty ImagesMs. Watson at the after-party for the movie premiere.

While most of the fans were no doubt there to get a glimpse of Daniel Radcliffe, Harry himself, the consensus in Friday morning’s newspapers was that Emma Watson may have stolen the show. Appearing on the red carpet in a sweeping pale gray gown designed by Oscar de la Renta, her hair cut short in a pixielike bob, Ms. Watson continued her transformation from geeky tween film star to fashion icon, a journey that recently included a glamorous cover shot in the current issue of American Vogue.

Later that evening, the 22-year-old actress did a quick change and attended the after-party in a sparkly knee-length Elie Saab dress from the designer’s spring 2011 couture collection.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Submit Your Photo: Street Style

Each week the Styles section will be soliciting street fashion photos based on a theme. This week, it’s nautical or espadrilles.

Be your own street photographer by showing us your style or someone else's in your current climate. Each week the Styles section will be soliciting street fashion photos based on a theme. The best photos will be published on at the beginning of each week. This week, it’s nautical-inspired looks or espadrilles. (@Instagram photos are welcome!) Submit here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gaultier: Let's Dance

The ballet world is a durable fashion theme, and Jean Paul Gaultier took it for a spin this afternoon as the fall haute couture season closed. Actually, Mr. Gaultier seemed more interested in the characters who populated that world, some of them Russian émigrés.

There was a strong Russian undercurrent in the clothes — rustic masculine tweed jackets and coats with full petticoated skirts, a gorgeous pistachio Fair Isle sweater in knitted fur with a sweeping gray silk skirt, and lavish nylon parkas for the male models who appeared in the show (from among the Gaultier regulars). He reworked the classic trench coat — and before you say “Again?,” some of them were tempting, notably a long draped trench dress in beige jersey. He did a playful, full-skirted chiffon dress striped with fur and fringed in between with coq feathers, and one or two satin corseted looks that made overt reference to dance. But this collection, while heavy in spots, really alluded to the personal style of that worldly brigade.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The 'It' Girl, Now a Woman

SHORTLY before Chloë Sevigny took off for an acting role in Europe (portraying a pre-operative, male-to-female transsexual assassin in a new mini-series called "Hit and Miss"), a job that would keep her away from her East Village apartment for several months, she visited a neighborhood holistic food store to buy birdseed for her canary. When the saleswoman asked if she was a member of the store's frequent shopper discount program, Ms. Sevigny said yes and gave her name.

"I knew that was you," announced the customer behind her in line. "I was going to say something. I recognize you by your style."

Recounting this episode a few hours later, over plates of hummus and marinated kale at a cafe near her home, Ms. Sevigny laughed her loud, un-self-conscious, wheeze-honk-honk laugh, and said, "I mean, who says that?"

Well, frankly, if you have been near the fashion, art, skateboarding, grunge or night-life scenes of New York City at any time since roughly 1995, when Ms. Sevigny made her breakthrough in the Larry Clark film "Kids," you might have said the same thing about her idiosyncratic style. She is someone who, now 36, appears as equally confident wearing a pinafore as a prairie dress as a Saint Laurent pantsuit. On this particular day, in early June, she wore faded Levi’s denim shorts that were cut off so shortly as to leave the inside lining of their pockets exposed several inches below the fray, a tight ribbed cotton T-shirt with a scoop neck and cap sleeves and black leather booties. Her hair was unwashed. You would not have confused her with Jessica Simpson.

It was once said of Ms. Sevigny, when she was 19, after Jay McInerney wrote a profile about her in The New Yorker, that she was the coolest girl in the world. Laurels of her part-nerdy, part-perverse sense of fashion have been bestowed at her ever since, prompting Bob Morris to ask, in The New York Times in 2000, "What is it about the young indie actress Chloë Sevigny that has turned the fashion world into a pack of dogs howling about her as if she were a full moon, or a lamb chop?" Her fabulous poses and linguistic mannerisms are so well known that they have become the popular subject of an online video parody by the comedian Drew Droege, who dresses as Ms. Sevigny and recites ridiculous insider fashion references like "this ironic art smock by Balenciaga Le Dix by Nicolas Ghesquiere."

Though you see her everywhere, at art openings and at fashion shows, you don’t get the sense she is overexposed or pie-eyed about the scene. Balenciaga does still send her bags of clothes sometimes, she said, but they don’t fit.

"I hate going to fashion shows,"she said, wheeze-honk-honk. "I find them boring."

Nevertheless, it seems like people have been constantly discovering, or rediscovering, Ms. Sevigny, ever since she was cast in a Sonic Youth video with Mr. Jacobs when she was just a teenage intern at a fashion magazine. She was famously offered a leading role in "Kids" while hanging out with a group of skateboarders that included Harmony Korine, the film’s screenwriter, in Washington Square Park, brought to mainstream attention when she was nominated for an Oscar in 2000 for "Boys Don’t Cry" and more recently praised as America’s favorite sister wife on "Big Love." Now the fashion world is into Ms. Sevigny again, a result of a popular clothing collection she introduced with Opening Ceremony, the downtown retailer, in 2008.

No profile of Ms. Sevigny over the years has failed to note either her distinctive laugh or the impression that she is little bit coy about her coolness, but also mostly genuine. Both are qualities that make people like her. It also helps explain why her fashion designs, now sold in 100 stores around the world, have been so successful. They hold the promise of Ms. Sevigny: looking cool without looking like you are trying.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Days of Strangeness at Dior

Things must be unusual these days at the House of Dior, judging by the high fashion show they saw this afternoon at the Musee Rodin. All sorts of weird vibes, along with a lack of design leadership, have a way of surfacing in clothes. A runway is like a shrink's couch; stuff comes out.

For some reason I had the idea that this collection would be an interim deal until Dior could hire a successor to John Galliano. Not having a show would have been unthinkable because the Dior machinery has other products, like fine jewelry, to keep promoting, & the hoopla of a couture show, small or not, is a great way to keep distracted people at least small interested.

Oh, yeah - Dior. So I was a small surprised that the house gave a lot play to Bill Gaytten, a studio assistant, who came to Dior in 1999 with Mr. Galliano. You would think that the management - Sidney Toledano, the chief executive of Dior, & his boss, Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton - were road-testing Mr. Gaytten for the job. (He was recently named creative director of the Galliano brand.)

I've known Mr. Gaytten for a decade. I met him in the Dior studio with Mr. Galliano & Steven Robinson, a close collaborator of Mr. Galliano's for lots of years, who oversaw virtually every detail of the collections. (Mr. Robinson died unexpectedly in 2007.) It appeared to be an excellent creative team, backed up by Dior's ateliers, & Mr. Gaytten's strength was in pattern-cutting. I am liking Mr. Gaytten. He's a sweetheart, but he is not a designer.

Backstage, Mr. Gaytten said it was time to do something a bit more modern at Dior. & when asked if he wanted the creative director job, he said, "Yeah, I do", & added, "I'm not a fool."

The collection introduced today, with modern architectural shapes as the reference (at least that explains the dumb cubes & balls embedded in the model's hair), was a hodgepodge. I had the feeling that Mr. Gaytten, without providing much guidance, let the studio hands play with free-form shapes. There were multicolored jackets with full pleated skirts in contrasting squiggle patterns. The tutti-frutti palette, with jolts of turquoise, recalled the Memphis design movement. Other dresses in metallic silk, with overlapping squares, made you think of Frank Gehry's buildings. That immaculate Dior polish was not evident. Some long flowing dresses in hand-painted silk looked contemporary , but for the most part the garments looked like over-bright costumes.

But any way you try to romance this collection with modern architects, it looked to me as though lots of hands were in the pie as well as a number of them might have belonged to management, which is seldom a lovely suggestion. You wind up with a mess. I can't imagine Karl Lagerfeld not being 100 percent in charge at Chanel (I had a peek last night at a number of his couture dresses, & they're awesome discuss simple architecture). & the same goes for Azzedine Alaia, who will show on Thursday.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Where Did the Fun Go?

A few years ago, as the success of the recession, the Chambre Syndicale, the authority of the French fashion, decided to separate the men from shows and high fashion in June for a week. The two sample groups followed each other, as they still do in January. A week of free time in Europe is no longer considered for publication with the joy of living in the past, so they tend to divide time between work and pleasure. Right now I'm in a village in Burgundy, staying at La Source des Fees, a vineyard owned by Thierry Philippe Nouvel Greffet. The place is as beautiful as it is relaxed, with fine dining, and every night brings new customers - Dutch, Swedish, French. It is the beginning of the summer.

Nathalie Lagneau / Catwalking

A look of men wear Lanvin show in
Paris. Perhaps because of the distance from the sample of men, it is easier to see what they lacked. The other day I wrote about the sensuality in the collections of Givenchy and Comme des Garcons. But I think in general what is missing in the Paris and Milan shows spring is a sense of fun. I had a chat with Carla Sozzani, Milan retailer after Lanvin, noting that the creative spirit that led the designers in the past business was partly meant for both the design of incredible things, as did his own bosses. But while many young designers who still have that mentality, the field is dominated by the big brands. They want results, Sozzani said.

Kristy Sparow / Getty Images

Looking to show signs of wear men Raf Simons.
Loïc Prigent The reporter also noted a difference in recent years among young assistants who work for large houses. In the past, I would ask where they planned to party after a show. "They say:" We can not leave because we started working on a collection
of sperm in the morning, '  "he said. Whether for fun.

Chris Moore / Cat walking

A model to show signs of wear of the men Prada in Milan.
The lack of pleasure is just one of the victims of a system that has become absurd full pressure. But his absence is evident in the collections - and what consumers really want from fashion fun, but some clothes? Chatting the other day with American designer L'Wren Scott, who lives part of the year in Paris, said the sample of men: "There were a couple of collections happy where he was the vitality and color." And that is talking about the spring and summer clothing.
Ms. Scott noticed because they are often asked about his male friends of custom pieces, and she has always designed suits and shirts for her boyfriend, Mick Jagger, also seeks to find in other collections.