I’m always looking for the perfect summer shoe (even in the depths of winter). It’s hard to find an easy slip on shoe that is also super comfortable. Shoe experts swear by these Repetto ballet flats–they fit like a glove and have a tiny little heel, so the foot is not totally flat. Brigitte Bardot wore them in red. Catherine Deneuve is a fan, too. Can’t get better endorsements than that, n’est-ce pas?
Couldn’t help but notice all the press on the latest Gucci menswear show in Milan over the weekend. Apparently creative director Frida Giannini had been abruptly dismissed a week or so ago, and the head of accessory design stepped in with a whole new collection. And a new aesthetic. It’s androgynous–chiffon shirts tied at the neck with romantic bows–and it’s very different from the retro-sleek style Giannini embraced for the decade she designed for Gucci. Some said the white blouse and necktie look and the bleue, blanc, rouge color palette were a tribute to French cultural figures in light of the recent attacks in Paris. Certainly the berets, silk poet’s blouses, and fur-lined capes alluded to a kind of bohemian, Gallic cool. Overall, I like Gucci’s new direction. It’s definitely quirky, but it feels more in tune with what’s happening on other runways and more responsive to larger cultural themes.
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).
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.
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.