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.
The other day I happened upon this cute green Camionette parked outside the Ralph Lauren Mansion on Madison Avenue. Yes, Ralph is selling coffee now. He even has a café in his new Fifth Avenue Polo flagship. The beans are roasted by La Colombe. It’s really great coffee–may even give Starbucks a jolt.
Christian Dior is one of the most intriguing figures in fashion–not only because he made such an impact on mid-20th century style with his famous New Look collection, but also because he was the first couturier to transform his name into a global brand. My friend Nathasha Fraser-Cavassoni has a new book out that is a real jewel. With numerous interviews and anecdotes she draws an intimate portrait of Dior the couturier, and Dior the quintessential Frenchman. The photos are also beautiful, with many I’ve never seen. Order it here.
A friend from Washington D.C. recently emailed to ask where she could find great winter boots for a decent price. A little research online led me to this new Soho store from the people at H&M. And Other Stories, which opened a week ago on Broadway and Prince, has a terrific selection of well-priced boots–everything from classic riding boots, to platform suede wedges. They also sell apparel–I particularly liked the knitwear and outerwear–and beauty products. The store is the brand’s first in the U.S. (they’ve already taken London by storm). I like it because the pieces are well cut and good quality for a decent price (sweaters are $100, coats are $275, boots are $225). I’d call the styling a mix of Marni, Dries Van Noten, and Jil Sander. You can shop online at And Other Stories but if you’re in New York City it’s worth a trip (and probably ultimately better to try on the merch–shoe sizing runs quite large, for example).
I remember Oscar de la Renta best from moments like these, backstage at his New York Fashion Week shows, about to take his bow on the runway, always letting the models go first and lingering modestly in the back of the podium, always surrounded by smiling employees who were so proud to work for such a generous and elegant man. He understood, better than most designers, that style is about so much more than what you are wearing.