Would You Rather…Dr. Scholl’s or Birkenstocks?

It took awhile for me to finally succumb to the Birkenstock trend last summer (I bought two pairs). Now Marc Jacobs is selling velvet-lined Dr. Scholls. What is it with the current fashion craze for ugly orthopedic shoes? Maybe designers are finally getting smart and targeting consumers in the demographic that actually spends money: Boomers (with failing knees and unhappy feet).

Effortless Effort: What is Style?

While browsing through photos of the pre-fall collections the other day, several looks from Michael Kors jumped out at me. They looked so familiar and for a moment I couldn’t place them. Then it me: something in the slouchy chic of Kors’ classic pea coat and bright red tuxedo pants or the simplicity of a black suit instantly recalled the crisp, clean, all-American style of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. But more than just the clothes themselves, it was the attitude in these images that reminded me of the late style icon. The writer Dani Shapiro wrote a blog post recently about this kind of attitude as it relates to writing and creativity and, well, life. Shapiro quoted Buddhist thought when she identified this attitude as the effortless effort, this idea of serendipity or risk or an openness to life’s possibilities. It’s a definition you could apply to style too, particularly this brand of seemingly effortless style.

Trove: Living in a French Garden

Wouldn’t it be nice to look at this view all day? A few weeks ago I was in Los Angeles visiting the showroom of Thomas Lavin who introduced me to Trove, a company that sells digitally printed wall paper. It sounds kind of tacky, but the images are incredible, especially this one of a French garden–Jardin à La Française. Check it out at Trove.

Bête de La Mode: Steven Meisel

There’s an expression in French for someone who is really crazy about fashion and totally immersed in the world of fashion: Bête de la mode. I love this expression because it’s not common or slightly derogatory like fashionista. Instead bête de la mode describes someone who is passionate and knowledgeable. To my mind few people in the fashion business possess the depth of passion and knowledge that the photographer Steven Meisel expresses in his work. His photos can be sophisticated, brutal, mysterious, vulgar, strange, and just plain beautiful. Every photo demonstrates Meisel’s expertise, not only with photography, but with style, fashion, history, form, art, light, hair, makeup, cloth, silhouette, expression, gestures, and communication. He communicates on so many levels it can be baffling, channeling Diane Arbus, Brassaï, Weegee, any number of iconic photographers, but then also making the image his own through his exacting standards. As a journalist, I dream of interviewing Meisel, but he won’t talk. I respect him for that, but I often wonder why. Is it a let-the-work-speak-for-itself stance? Or is he so immersed in his craft that he can’t explain himself in mere words? The auction house Phillips has just announced a traveling sales exhibit of Meisel’s work, beginning in Paris on November 20th and going on to London December 16th and New York on January 23rd.