January 17, 2011 § 5 Comments
Upon surfing through my Sunday NYTimes this morning, fully aware that I am a day late, I also realize that I am about two months behind on the news. On November 11th, 2010, the Met issued a press release about an upcoming exhibit: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, May 4, 2011–July 31, 2011. How I could have missed this news baffled me, though it shouldn’t.
I don’t think I have been on my A game, for a while, and then upon hearing recent news, I think I’ve sort of fallen off the inspiration wagon.
My sister and I have talked a number of times about branding in fashion, most recently about the Spring 2011 McQueen collection, the first by Sarah Burton. Of course this collection was bound to be under great scrutiny. People wanted to know if Sarah Burton would be able to live up to and continue the vision, artistry, raw imagination, and workmanship of Lee Alexander McQueen. Her collection was recognized as meeting these goals, though, both my sister and myself felt it was a regurgitation of Lee’s ideas, and cleverly masked the insecurity of the line’s new designer in rich textiles, attention to detail and exquisite tailoring, also things we had seen before, but expect, as we should from the McQueen line. All this being said, I honestly feel that the line should have, well, been laid to rest in the wooden box alongside its visionary, creator, and proprietor. Never content with making fashion for fashion’s sake, his voice has changed in his death and he is now, merely, and sadly a brand. No longer art. It will be a long time before we see that much true creativity, artistry, vision and workmanship in fashion, and ultimately, modern art.
I am currently trudging my way through Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson. It’s not that it’s that bad, it’s just not that good. I found it at the library a week ago in the “bestseller” area, clearly, misfiled if you ask me. The author interjects his opinions in the weirdest places, I don’t think you were actually there buddy, so why tell just this one paragraph like you were, and all the others like your not. The flow is a bit catty-wham-pus for my taste, and it seems like the content could be written in such an exciting way, and it is just not. I just finished reading a section regarding the wardrobe and how Audrey, and Holly, made modern fashion accessible to all, not just the elite. But, I don’t know that she made fashion accessible, I think that she made specifically style, and the essence of chic accessible. I think that true fashion, and style are different things. Style can become a brand, but art can never be. Just look at what Andy Wharhol did with brands and he is still, and will always be seen as an artist.
The article in the NYTimes that indicated that I do, in-fact, live under a rock, and enlightened me to the upcoming McQueen exhibit at The MET, shared my opinion on fashion, brands and commodity as being, not one in the same. Apparently the brand Alexander McQueen can be sustained from creating one-off pieces for ladies with high bank rolls, dresses costing upwards of $30,000 each.
I am sick of seeing the LV insignia bags. I don’t want compromise in art or artistic vision for everyone to be able to buy something “authentic.” I wish there were more separation between fashion (art)—so little of it that there truly is—and “style.”
Appropriately featured, the Alexander McQueen exhibit will be opening May 4th and running through July 31st. Ironically, I received a promotion from Virgin America Airlines this morning, before learning of the exhibit, advertising fares through mid may from SFO to NYC for $139 (before taxes, fees, snacks and movies). So now comes the great question, do I fork over the $300, find a couch to surf on, grab the bull by its horns and fly out for one night for, perhaps, the only chance I will ever receive to see, in person, the amazing work of Alexander McQueen?
And if I do go, what do I wear?
Even though I drove 800 miles for real Alexander McQueen fabric, this, sadly, I think is outside of my budget …
Images in this post are from Vogue, July 2010, United States: A Noble Farewell for Alexander McQueen by Annie Leibovitz
January 3, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I have been feeling a little bit of the need for inspiration, to get my head back in the game. After reading BerninaAG’s tweet this morning, regarding if anyone’s New Years resolutions involve sewing—yes!!—it is starting to sink in just how far behind I am.
A few months back I found an image of McQueen’s final piece, perhaps the last garment he ever touched, in the last pages of the New York Times Magazine which comes in the Sunday paper—speaking of which, I am just realizing that I haven’t seen any sign of my Sunday paper in weeks. This particular image was from the Fashion Fall 2010 issue, it grabbed my attention, and pulled me closer. I have been saving it, wanting to frame it but to far behind the 8-ball to actually make this happen.
Just before Christmas, on a family trip to Target to find toys to donate for the Toys for Tots program, my sister and my mom decided to do Christmas shopping for parties present, as the ability to interpret desires and needs is much more easily defined. Upon my sister’s request, I informed her that I wanted a picture frame for the McQueen dress, insisting that a larger frame with a matte would do the image justice. After refusing my offer for cutting the matte myself, stating, “Julie, you have way to much to do already,” she gifted a lovely frame, complete with finished matte. Super painlessly the image was trimmed, placed, and hung on the wall, right above my beloved Bernina, whom, as one might see in the image below, also went traveling recently.
Now with the image standing cleanly presented above the Blue Lex (the blue horse figure from Kentucky) I feel a sense of quietness and peace as the New Year is beginning. I think it is time for some reflection, and also some kicking my ass into gear.
Tomorrow I will be posting my second knitting pattern. I am almost done typing it up. I also took some time today to organize all of my knitting needles and supplies, in preparation for The Great OrganizaitonFest of 2011, when my sister comes over later this week. Paper-shredder beware. I think you have a lot of work ahead of you. No time to wait for spring to tame the beast, or maybe it’s the shrew. I feel like my sewing and knitting projects have exploded and need to get them in order, badly.
September 19, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Each week, I get the Sunday edition of the New York Times delivered to my door, usually in a heavy thud as the paper boy slings it up the stairs with all the force he can muster, the hurling mass heavy enough to knock someone unconscious, or, as the case may be, bring me to consciousnesses through deep sleep. Given my current economic state, I really should just read it online, but I like the smell, and the discovery of the unknown while flipping through the pages, my fingers collecting soot from the ink, as I drink my coffee and eat my glutten free toast. Seldom do I read the official “news” portion, reserving my energy and eyes for the style, arts, books, and travel sections. This morning two things in particular caught my eye. The first was a story about figure-8 car racing in the Sports section, and the second was McQueen in the Style section in Bill Cunningham’s photographs from Fashion Week.
Both articles reflect the same idea, as aptly phrased by the NYTimes, “No Room for Hesitation.” Ramon grew up around the figure-8 dirt track, his father racing a stock-car at the local-speedway. While the dirt-track Ramon frequented at a child now only runs as an oval—I can only assume for fatality’s sake—the excitement still gleams in his eyes when we occasionally spectate. Even if it is a “red-neck” activity, anyone who goes will feel it too.
But, Is the rush and thrill of the adrenaline not great enough when you just go in a circle, or wind your way around a road-course? While it is pretty clear how in figure-8 racing hesitation becomes weakness— a pile-up of metal—in Fashion, hesitation becomes message lost. Voice disappears in inconsistency. You must believe in your own work in order for people to buy-into the idea, and later buy the garment. Hesitation is something that I never recall seeing in any of McQueen’s collections, in-fact, I would say it was exactly the opposite. He never played it safe. In fact, I don’t think he ever “played-it,” at all. Looking at many of the minimalistic shapes coming out of Fashion Week I feel left without inspiration and wonder. I feel bored. Many of these garments are trying to dress women, but I feel that I miss a story, a perspective, and a point. Perhaps I am short-sighted, and perhaps it is just my style. McQueen did more than just dress women, in fact, while I think that women were his muses, his inspiration and vision came only from within—an extremely rarity—and his artwork finding form in the physical world on women, not for them.
Ramon and I have been watching Season 2 of Project Runway on DVD from the library. I feel that I am hearing a lot about how Santinto can make interesting garments, he doesn’t know how to design for women. Upon hearing this, I realize that there is quite a disparity between the two. Designing for a woman includes considering her movement, shape and needs, not just making something that is unique, interesting, or beautiful. On Friday, while having the background noise of the E! channel on, I heard Heidi Klum discussing her clothing line for pregnant women, describing that she knows how a pregnant woman feels, and thus how to design for her. Well, I certainly wouldn’t agree with you, Heidi. You pull of pregnancy and fashion in an elegant way, and after having four children, I trust that you know better than I do how a pregnant woman feels, and feels in particular types of clothing. You have worn many.
So, where does this put McQueen? Clearly he was creating artwork, but did he also create his artwork for women? I cannot know undoubtedly, but I think that the answer lays in his ability to create and sew. Coming from a tailoring background learning how things fit and why is extremely important in making your clients happy, and as a Master Tailor, I think he was qualified with knowledge about how to make garments fit, move and work on a woman’s body. A lot of things he created for the runway didn’t make it back to fashion week on the guests because of their elaborate qualities. Honestly, I think that guests showing up to our most recent New York Fashion Week in McQueen’s runway looks would have put current designers’ collections to shame.
McQueen garments are not always easy to wear as subtlety within them is infrequently found. I applaud the women who did show up in his ready to wear. From the few images that I saw of the guests there were two, both wearing the futuristic prints from McQueen’s Spring 2009 collection.
Getting back to my own work, yesterday was one step forward and two steps back. Well, really it was one inch circularly knitted forward, and two inches frogged by the end of the day. To my great dismay, I discovered that even though I had followed my pattern to a T, the pattern was wrong. Why I didn’t stop to think about it, and add up the stitches while I was working, I can only chalk up to trust, or laziness, but at least I have learned something here, always do the math. Realizing that four extra stitches equated to an additional inch with this particular gauge and pattern, Ramon voted for going back the two inches necessary to finish the mistake. He is usually not one for the frogging, but made a strong case for it this time, and I couldn’t argue. Why spend so much time to get it wrong, when you can spend a little extra time in the middle repairing the damage. Ramon says, “One inch in, and two inches out equals 3 inches of progress.” I think this is a dose of optimism that I need.
I almost completed a second tailored shirt yesterday when I ran out of white thread. This seems to be a more common occurrence recently than ever before. Up until I this summer I have never, ever run out of thread on the spool. I hope to finish the tailored shirt by the end of the day after a trip to the fabric store, finishing my English homework, getting progress made on Ramon’s website, and calling back my dear friend who works for the EDD. I am hoping to have time for the Farmer’s Market too, but the way things are going … I think I may have a time management issue.
The racing story can be found here: Danger and Excitement Intersect at Figure Eight Racing
The racing story can be found here: On the Street by Bill Cunningham