Fashion A-Z: Highlights from the Museum at FIT, January 2012

Charles James evening gown, 1954, at the Museum at FIT. Dark emerald green silk satin. Gift of Robert Wells, in memory of Lisa Kirk.

Balenciaga dress and shrug, 1967 at the Museum at FIT. Black wool jersy and white mink. Gift of Mrs. Parker J. Coller.

Yes, there was an embarrassing late minute name change of the exhibit from "Great Designers" to "Fashion, A-Z" (I thought it sounded like much ado about nothing.) But highlight exhibits are impossible to disappoint because there's always something for everyone.

Fashion, A-Z Part I is currently on till May 8; Part II is set to open on May 23. A book of the two-part exhibit is currently in the work with Taschen. Hopefully, it'll be chock-full of detail photos.

Labels: , , ,

Would someone please think of the children?

Hailee Steinfeld in the banned Fall 2011 Miu Miu campaign, ostensibly upset at being left alone at a railway track. Photographed by Bruce Weber.

I had a friend who worked briefly in the business of approving television commercials. By her account, it sounded like a miserable position with little in what they call 'job satisfaction'. There is a set of clear guideline for her to follow in regards to the mundane stuff i.e. what you can and cannot say on air, the number of beer bottles should not exceed the number of actors appearing on screen, etc. But the job gets tricky when it comes to issue where it is not obviously black and white. For example, gratuitous violence is frowned upon, but violence in a comedic setting may be permissible. So is a gun shot in a dream sequence from a stoner comedy permissible? What is violence to one person could be comedy to another; different people will have different reading of the same material due to different background or different cultural references. No two people will made the same judgement regarding the same ad. On top of that, to make a difficult job even more stressful, the ad agencies will never be happy with whatever changes you want them to make no matter how reasonable they are; and her bosses would immediately jump on her if she missed something or made a bad call. It's a job where you please no one at the end of the day.

Having heard about my friend's experience, I'd like to imagine whoever was at the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) making the decision to ban Hailee Steinfeld's Miu Miu ad was probably having a bad day at work or made some bad calls earlier and decided to be overzealous this time. The ban was clearly boneheaded. If a mere image of unattended children playing around railroad tracks can be deemed irresponsible and dangerous, what about images of unattended children at swimming pools? And despite the fact that people read the same images differently, I think if we were to ask 100 people to list what message they perceived in this particular ad, child endangerment would unlikely be a common reading. For me personally, I see a rustic setting, a beautifully dressed girl seemingly upset about some untold heartbreak. I find it all quite lovely, even poetic. However I agree with those who made that point that if there is anything objectionable about this campaign it would probably be having a 14-year-old kid modelling a £1,000 dress. But the government is not in the business of regulating the sale of luxury goods during peacetime, so there's not much to do about that and there shouldn't be.

Despite my friend's misadventure - she's now in a new job - and the overreaction to the Miu Miu campaign, I'm not entirely opposed to the work of ASA which already has a notorious reputation for being tough. I happened to agree with one of their recent decisions to ban Dakota Fanning's Oh, Lola! ad for Marc Jacobs.

Similar to the Miu Miu campaign, this is another ad from a fashion company featuring a young teenage actress. But if we are to peel back at the layer of messages behind this particular ad: the sheerness of her dress, the nude colour, the short hemline and more importantly the position of the flower bottle, the associated meaning of the word 'flower', the name 'Lola' and its diminutive "Lolita" in the English language (I know Nabokov's character is actually called Dolores but I digress.) Adding up all this little bits of signs, can we not agree that sex and specifically sexuality pertaining to an underage girl would not be an uncommon reading among the general population?

You may disagree with me, I think this one is crossing into jailbait territory.

Labels: , , ,

Pink Tops

Actress Samaire Armstrong plays Summer Edgecombe in an episode of The Mentalist Season 4.

The run of the mill cop/laywer/doctor drama shows on network television are not places to look for interesting fashion; the main cast on the shows are often dressed boringly and identically episode to episode, season to season. I guess it conforms with the viewers' mindset that these characters are serious professionals who by default should not take fashion seriously. (Although I take issues with Agent Prentiss's badly fitted shirts on the rather disturbed series Criminal Minds.) Secondly, by dressing the characters consistently, it causes less visual disruption for people watching the show out of order. And by dressing them conservatively, I suspect the shows will appear less dated once they enter syndication.

Yet out of the blue, I found this minor character on the latest episode of The Mentalist, who was dressed rather intriguingly. She's Summer the prostitute, played brilliantly by actress Samaire Armstrong, who stumbled onto a crime scene, stole the victim's credit card and ended up as a police informant. She has messy platinum blonde hair with neon pink streaks; She wears printed blouse in bold colours and loaded up on fake gold jewellery which seems like an homage to Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan with a tinge of that sophisticated-trashiness one sometimes find in 90's Versace.

In my opinion, she looks less like a hooker and more like some of the It-girls/fashionistas of my city (which is not in any way to insinuate that our It-girls/fashionistas look like hookers). Plus I have trouble believing that high-end prostitutes would actually dress like this, not that I'm an expert on this issue.

At the end of the episode, I find myself thinking: If I were ever the type of person to dye my hair blonde, I'd like to dress like this, bold and fun. And I like the fact she probably had more costume change in one episode than any of the cast members in the entire season.

The character Summer Edgecombe wearing tailored jackets with bright coloured-shorts leaving the nightclub and proceeds to witness a crime scene.

Caught in mid-session with client in a hotel wearing lacy underwears, garters, and stockings.

Brought back to police station for questioning in transparent blouse and leather miniskirt.

In a fur overcoat about to leave the station.

Confrontation in a bar: Stiff updo, black polka dots on red blouse worn over little black dress and lots of gold chains. My favourite look.

Back in the bar, in silver-blue patterned blouse and again lots of gold accessories.

Labels: , ,

Happy St. Catherine's Day!

A Catherinette wearing her special hat for the day. Monsieur Balenciaga looking on.

"Donnez-moi, Seigneur, un mari de bon lieu!"

Labels: ,

2010-2012© ¡La Manga! ¡La Manga!

Il semble que la perfection soit atteinte non quand il n'y a plus rien à ajouter, mais quand il n'y a plus rien à retrancher.
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry
¡La Manga! ¡La Manga!