Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Phoenix rising...

Today is a pretty special day...

[If you could bear with me for a few paragraphs... I have a point to make]

I'm going to admit, I was never into fashion or clothing as a child and this whole me-blogging-and-being-into-fashion is a relatively new thing. I was the family tomboy, the fake son, if you will, and I totally loved it; running, jumping, climbing trees, doing cartwheels (my nickname at Gym club was 'The Cartwheel Kid'), swimming, playing with dirt... that kind of stuff. I dug up one of my more stylish moments (sarcasm if you will)... little me is on the far left (see the mop of electric hair). In my defense, jean is very in for next spring and I'm wearing what looks like a pair of camel chords (very chic) and boat shoes (I own a pair today as well). To be fair, we're about to go trekking in the Jordanian desert, but this is what I wore alot of the time. If it had flowers... bye bye *rip, rip, shred*.

At about 12 ish I went through that stage, you know, complete androgyny, I had no desire to wear tight jeans and pretty pink tees like most girls. It was still baggy shorts, Von-Dutch shirts (holy smokes it's been years since I've seen one of those) and flip flops. But, I was sketching and designing clothes, which was unusual since I had no sense of style at all. Clearly, as seen above.

I don't have any of my older designs on me. This is one I did last year (2009).

I've always been creative, that's my mom's influence, whereas the tomboy and the Von-Ducth was most definitely my dad. Mom and I could spend hours coloring in coloring books when I was small and I was obsessed (I'm not kidding) OBSESSED with dinosaurs, which I drew with abundance. These are just a few examples of how my mom's influence has manifested itself:
One of my exhibition pieces for my final high school art exam... it took absolutely hours and hours.

The newest phase of my creative spike. I discovered jewelry in my junior year of high school and have been making it ever since.

I wasn't so much fashionable as I was curious. I was NOT becoming the dreaded 'girly-girl'. Anyway, years went by and my style did change, much to my dad's sadness; I grew out of the little boy clothes and into skinny jeans and fitted t-shirts. I will never be the cliche 'girly-girl', I'm still that tom-boy. I don't always wear stylish clothes, it's hard to when you're a pool rat. But I will say, I have an appreciation for clothes and fashion, that I lacked when I was young. Dad, all this doesn't make me any the less of that crazy, running, jumping, climbing kid, even though I love fashion and make jewelry, I just wanted you to know that.

[My point begins] This burgeoning love for fashion kind of hit me smack in the face about two years ago and it's pretty much due to one person. I had a very vague about idea who this person was, I'd unknowingly been in one of his stores before and I had remembered the name. Years later, he is kinda my world and I mean that sincerely and not in a soppy manner. I said it the other day and I'll say it again, this figure who changed my perspective on clothes, is this fellow here:
Lee Alexander McQueen
Let me start with, this is a happy story... not a sad one despite the fact that, this man, one of my heroes, took his life this past February. I remember that day being pretty awful, waking up to find that someone you hold in such high esteem isn't there anymore. You may laugh and think that I'm melodramatic, but I'm not, not one bit. It hurt, alot. He is the reason I discovered fashion, runway shows, the cult of the designer, the art of clothing...etc. it was all him. He was my proverbial tour guide to the world of fashion, where gods like Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld hold court. 
Below are the two last womenswear shows he created and two of my favorite collections of all time:
With exhibitions like these, you have to admit, this man had a dark yet brilliant mind with an aptitude for beautiful clothes. It's all raw emotion and I can connect with that.

...I hate using that term 'was'... it's as though I'm relegating him to the past tense when, in fact, he lives on. Last Tuesday marked a new dawn as demonstrated during the spine-chilling, haunting and exceptionally devotional show that you will see. Yeah, it was the day I've pined for, for months. I waited all day, refreshing the damn Style.com homepage from 1:30 onwards because I knew the new era of McQueen was being presented. 

After Lee's death the Gucci Group (who control the brand) decided to carry on his legacy and his close partner Sarah Burton was handed the reigns. To be given responsibility of any legendary brand is a feat in itself but this even more so because it is McQueen, who built up his empire through grandiose theatricality and emotion. 

I was thinking 'Oh my gosh just wait until the end when the designer takes their walk'... and it hit me, (I already knew) but it hit me again that I wouldn't be seeing McQueen. And then like clockwork my throat tightened up and I suddenly felt like I was at war with the world. Part of me is so angry with him because it feels selfish but at the same time I can't even imagine living in a state where you aren't happy enough to want to live. 

Is it weird to miss someone you've never met? I was so enamoured with his clothes, his persona, his emotion and 
I know Burton is capable of his mantle of greatness, after nearly 16 years of heading womenswear she's been through it all, but I still waited anxiously to see how the new McQueen would manifest itself and how true she would stay to his brilliance.

[Yeah, I took a deep breath before I looked]

I can only imagine the atmosphere in Paris before this, one of the most anxiously awaited shows of the season... and the aftermath. How did Burton carry on the legacy?... By staging one of the best shows possible. 

This new show was so beautiful, it made me sad. I'm hoping this doesn't happen every show because I don't want to mar the beauty of what Sarah Burton did. She's keeping him alive for us all, for me. It felt like he was there, that he had done it again. But I'm pleased to say for the first time and not the last: She's done it. Bravo!

These are what some fashion heavy hitters are saying:

- "A show laden with emotion that was made even more remarkable because of how right she got it." - Vogue.co.uk

- "Many in the audience were welling up … from seeing a young designer face up to such a daunting challenge and then acquit herself with such a sensitive evocation of nature, beauty and renewal."- Vogue.com

- "In an extraordinarily beautiful show, Burton succeeded in both being faithful to the late designer's distinctive design ethos while taking the label in a new era" - The Guardian

- "Now that she has proved her absolute fealty, her absolute familiarity, it’s going to be riveting to watch her apply the craftsmanship and teamwork that made this collection such a success to a new vision for the house." - Style.com

- "A tour-de-force that channeled McQueen’s darkly surreal style, remodeling his signature elements into strange and beautiful confections that managed to be at the same time new and reassuringly familiar." - Associated Press

- "Sarah Burton’s first women’s show for Alexander McQueen didn’t have the tortured genius of the namesake designer who committed suicide in February. But the clothes may have been better for it." - All the Rage

I'm not mistaken, I'm pretty sure that was unanimous praise.


Burton absolutely kept up with the McQueen aesthetics, but added some femininity and all out fresh passion to create one of the most beautiful shows. Over a week later, I'm still reeling. The collection was a clear ode to nature with bohemian, pagan, baroque, golden and optimistic undertones. During the sequence of dresses with the printings of cornucopias I was thinking about Dutch peasant girls of the 1700s with bushels of wheat with their plaited hair and caps. There was an agrarian side to the collection as manifested through the wheat dress and bodice, both of which would have required skill beyond belief. The rawness of the collection could be seen in the new lighter fabrics, they were soft because Burton is channeling the softer side of the McQueen woman. Listen: butterflies, chiffon, embroidery, wheat, guilding, organza, raffia, brocade, feathers, wheatstalks, white, doilies, lace, crochet, plaiting... does that sound feminine farmer chic or WHAT?! The show started with simple sleek white tailoring and as it progressed the girl seemed to be reclaimed by nature as the clothes seemed to fall away as the girl became a forest nymph.

It was perfect... in every way
Two of my favorite sequences of garments... I don't know how to effectively describe them, but here's my best shot: on our left we have a series of skin exposing, printed dresses with the strong McQueen silhouette - the cinched waist and exaggerated hip. But, this time with a softer and sleaker figure. Tailoring, Tailoring... TAILORING. The print is a cornucopia of plant life and harvest bouquets, evoking the farming and nature theme of the show. On our right, another three dresses and coats that are more built up with fabric - the fabric looks to be slightly heavier (brocade?) with fringing that evokes the texture of corn husks and raffia.

Again I want to include details and close ups of the garments because this is intricacy like none other. We've had the opportunity to see Dior and Chanel in all their glory, but I need to emphasize how detailed this show is. On the McQueen website (www.alexandermcqueen.com go have a peek, it's great and you can watch the entire show) they state that 'each piece highlights the value of handcraft... and that the values of hard craftsmanship and the precious quality of found objects are upheld.' In addition, The New York Times said that 'When Sarah Burton came out for her bow… she had a pair of scissors jammed into a back pocket of her jeans. What is important to know about Ms. Burton, aside from her talent, is that, like the late Mr. McQueen, she is dedicated to craftsmanship.'

Bienvenue les examples...

The first look was a classic McQueen tailored tuxedo jacket but with a Burton twist. The structured shoulders that he favored were slashed, while retaining their structure they were softened. Notice how the hems on the lapels of the jacket are frayed... romantic, non?
All the shoes were hand crafted and hand carved... prettttyyyy.
This series of garments is so beautiful... the intricate tailoring and folding like origami and the pattern of wheat, flowers and foliage is done in McQueen's classic graphic, reflected print process.
It's all hand stitched!! Romantic foliage on structured tailored suits.
I haven't seen a repeated shoe style yet... 
Oops... look on the right. But on the beginning of the degradation of the romantic maiden. 
Brocade and raffia, looks as though nature is starting to engulf our fair maiden.
THIS IS SO FREAKING AMAZING! It's all made of wheat, wheat, wheat. I mean, how do you make a dress out of plant material. McQueen did happen to make a dress out of freshly cut flowers for Spring 2007... Burton does seem to have dug into the archives and done her homework.
This crocheted dress gives me an eastern European vibe... part of me is thinking Greece in the summer. Cerulean nails and some amazing matte nude heels. Suhweet.
These two peasant dresses in their warm golden, amber hues seem to fit in perfectly in the Canadian foliage right now. And the nail color to match. The way they moved on the runway and their color scheme put these in the contention for my favorite looks from the show.
Butterfly, butterfly fly away home, I'm almost positive that these dresses are not made out of real butterflies haha no they're not I swear. They're beautiful though. The craftsmanship involved to embroider all these pieces of fabric in place and in this pattern is UUUUUNNNNNRRRREEEAAAALLLL. The back of the Monarch butterfly dress looks as though the insects are about to fly off the girl. The shoes.... need I say again. Hand carved. It looks like the girls might take flight.
Now there's more skin shown and it looks as though the models are being stripped of their garments as they become one with nature.... who just wrote that. Woah, not me.
These two dresses are reminiscent of Lee's Spring 2003 show and the marooned islander girl who walked in a cream dress of the same construction. Smart tactics
Another of the amazing, fantastical creations featuring natural materials: wheatsheafs and pheasant feathers. I hope someone wears this to one of the Awards Shows in the spring!!!
Feathers, hand craft, nipped waist, exaggerated structure and a garment that lives and breathes when you do. What more could you want from a swirling gown like this? Beaut!

Let's take a trip backstage... beauty timeeeee. 
If I had to design a nature themed show I don't know how I would style the hair. Slick, pulled back hair would be too cosmopolitan, long, flowing, straight tresses would be too sexy, messy up-dos would be too careless and curls would too cluttered... What to do, what to do. Yeah, I'd just going to come up with a brilliant hair weaving technique that channels raw craft while also being very avant-garde. Genius!
Ok, look at the nailpolish, but listen and weep.... it's a SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION. Sad, but true. I believe the brand is called Minx and they were given fabric swatches from the show (look at the 14th and 15th detailed shots) and asked to come up with a varnish to match. The formula is as follows: the bottom coat is their Golden Lightning foil underneath layers of a copper translucent pattern. Pretty, right?
Make-up: should I repeat the mantra... clean, pared back, simple... clean? Minimalist... ok don't kill me. It's a pretty  good formula. With clothes that are super intricate and focused on immaculate construction, it makes sense not to over-complicate the looks. Therefore the woven hair and the pale pink lip are enough to pull the collection together.


I'm watching Entourage right now and Johnny 'Drama' Chase is wearing a "God Save McQueen' shirt. Coincidence, I think not. The phoenix has risen... get ready for the new era. 

- Life is good

Listening to: the return of the housemates
Observations: the penultimate season of Entourage as recommended by my brother
Craving: grocery shopping... got no food. Broke and hungry

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