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John Galliano

In the Clintonian roman a clef, Primary Colors, campaign strategist Richard Jemmons (so, you know, basically James Carville) takes aside the newly-disillusioned True Believer and gives him the single most important piece of counsel I’ve ever heard about living publicly:

“They love you and then they stop loving you.”

By now you probably know John Galliano, my favorite designer, has been removed from his position at Dior after video surfaced of a clearly inebriated Galliano spouting off some shockingly anti-Semitic remarks at a Parisian bar.

Was he provoked? Did he mean what he said or was it just scandal for scandal’s sake? Should it matter? The video theoretically happened around New Year’s Eve, is it coincidence that the video is surfacing in the wake of Charlie Sheen’s outbursts and the upcoming Paris ready-to-wear shows? What does it say about our ever-growing love for tabloid feeding frenzies?

What a nightmare.

Of course Dior had to fire him. Of course they did. It doesn’t matter if he really meant it, or whether it’s right to judge people on what they say when they’re off the clock and on the sauce. It doesn’t matter that Galliano for Dior was the most brilliant partnership of the post-couture age. He had to go.

But it still breaks my heart.

Listen, I’m not a real fashion insider by any means but even I knew the open secret that was John Galliano’s increasing struggles with mental illness. Do I think he truly is anti-Semitic? No, I don’t. I think he’s a brilliant, self-destructive artist who is finally cracking under the pressure of unrealistic expectations in an industry that sells unrealistic expectations for cold, hard cash.

I think in some way, he wanted out. It happened to McQueen, too.

Yesterday, Suzy Menkes wrote in the International Herald Tribune:

While the vile statements seen coming from Mr. Galliano’s drunken lips on the Internet video deserved the nearly-universal condemnation they were receiving, there is pathos in the vision of one of the world’s most famous — and best paid — designers alone, clutching a glass in a bar. The pressure from fast fashion and from the instant Internet age to create new things constantly has worn down other famous names. Marc Jacobs, design director of Louis Vuitton, ended a wild streak in rehab. Calvin Klein famously rambled across a sports pitch and admitted to substance abuse. And the late Yves Saint Laurent spent a lifetime fighting his demons.

Above all, the suicide of Alexander McQueen, a year almost to the day before Mr. Galliano’s public disgrace, is a specter that hangs over the fashion industry. The death from cardiac arrest of Mr. Galliano’s closest collaborator, Steven Robinson, in 2007 also sent out an early warning signal.

Most other designers, preparing their collections for Paris Fashion Week, and stunned by Mr. Galliano’s swift fall from grace, asked not to be quoted on the record.

But Victoire de Castellane, Dior’s jewelry designer, summed up the general feeling when she said: “It’s terrible and pathetic at the same time. I never knew that he had such thoughts in him. Or that he so needed help.”

Obviously I don’t agree with what Galliano said, and LVMH was 100% right to fire him, if for no other reason that he did damage to the brand by being in violation of France’s laws explicitly against Anti-Semitism.

I also understand why Natalie Portman –the new face of Dior fragrance Miss Cherie– would refuse to be associated with Dior as long as Galliano was on board. She said “In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”

I get it, but girlfriend also loves her vintage Chanel and I’m going to go ahead and guess that on the Bigot-meter, Galliano’s stupid drunken rant isn’t anywhere close to Mme Gabrielle’s antics –including but not limited to being the long-term romantic partner of Nazi officer Hans Günther von Dincklage, using his influence to keep her apartments in Paris during Nazi occupation, using newly-passed anti-Semitic laws to try to regain control of her perfume from the Wertheimers and getting involved in a failed Nazi attempt to get the ear of Winston Churchill by using one of Chanel’s former friends who was related to the prime minister. The friend, Vera Bate Lombardi, refused to cooperate and got arrested by the Gestapo for her trouble.

I also wonder if supporting a brand whose creative director has anti-Semitic views is worse than supporting a company that uses sweatshop labor and turns a blind eye to ongoing and systematic human rights violations and inhumane labor laws?

Is it okay to punish someone for what they think but not for what they do?

I don’t know. This thing is tragic from all ends. And of course I’m Episcopalian. I get a lot of garbage for being a person of faith but the last time Anglicans were killed just for being Anglican was 1557 so I can’t know or even pretend to know what it would be like to hear something like with the ears of someone for whom the Holocaust still looms large.

I wish I could come up with something pithy or a meaningful insight but I can’t. I’m sad. Sad for Galliano, sad for Dior, sad for an industry that’s fundametally broken, sad for a society that’s loves a feeding frenzy more than it loves forgiveness and sad that we’ll never see anything like the Fall 2007 Dior Couture show again.

Prom Week: Big Question

On Monday I defended the flight-of-fancy prom dress and I stand by it. If we ever redo the Plumcake familial creed and for some unknown and hateful reason they DON’T go for “Psycho Killer: Qu’est-ce que c’est?” or a quote from To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything. Love, Julie Newmar (my two suggestions) I hope they might entertain the following:

There is no excess like wretched excess.

Most women don’t have many occasions where it’s socially acceptable to have a full on sartorial extravaganza. It’s pretty much costume balls and prom. Note how I DIDN’T say wedding? Although by all means keep wearing bad wedding dresses, it’s the only thing –except the open bar– that makes most weddings enjoyable. You just go ahead and marry your fourth husband while wearing a Cinderella gown. The gays and I will be in the back pew making knowing comments about the kind of girls –fairytale heroines included– who wear clear heels.

But the fact most of our lives –and most of our budgets– can’t support high octane fashion fantasies, shouldn’t stop us from occasionally indulging in a daydream or two.

Today Miss Plumcake wants to know:

If you had to do it all over again what would you wear to prom? Money, time, history and physics are of no matter. I just want to know your fantasy gown.

At first I thought I might want something by Poiret, but then decided my shape didn’t suit his ideas. Then I thought about putting Queen Elizabeth I’s dressmakers to the test. I AM awfully fond of that fabric with all the swampthings on it, but I just know I’d put it on and feel like an aquarium made sweet upholstered love to an overstuffed ottoman.

So then I went to the great couturiers. Cristobal Balenciaga: gorgeous and flawless but not exuberant enough. Coco Chanel: Nazi sympathizer. Christian Dior: now we’re getting somewhere.

I’ve always loved –and been flattered by– The New Look which took the fashion world by wasp-waisted, full-skirted storm in 1947.

It’s gotta be John Galliano.

dior fragonard
Dior Matador
Dior michelangelo
Dior starry night

I’d happily wear any of these from our Funky Little Fashion Troll for Dior’s 60th anniversary of the New Look. Heck, I’d wear pretty much any gown he’s done for Dior. Mostly I just want to wear a lyre on my head.

Of course, when I first asked myself the question, one dress did pop out and, surprisingly, it wasn’t from the mini maestro. It was the cream feather dress from Alexander McQueen’s Fall 2008 ready to wear.

McQueen feather dress

Is it my favorite McQueen ever? No. It’s not even my favorite from that show, which literally made me weep it was so beautiful. But it’s up there and it’s haunted me for years, so in my made up life –the one where Stephen Fry is straight and MADLY in love with me and Hugh Laurie is just sick with jealousy– this is the dress I would wear to prom.

But I still want that damn lyre.

Fashion Musing (Plus gratuitous Rankin Bass reference)

So I completely ignored Couture back in January and I know some of youse (listen to me talk like a Yankee!) have complained about it, so here’s a little bit of fashion musing over the past fashion week doings.

So I’ve got to say I haven’t been moved thusfar in Paris, and I’m especially disappointed in the Galliano show. We love John Galliano. He is our Funky Little Fashion Troll. He loves women, his models almost always have breasts and hips and other lady parts generally shunned by the fashion industry.  I love him at Dior and I love the stuff he does for his own house.  That being said:

Huh?

HUH?

I just didn’t get it.

I mean, there are some amazing individual pieces like this coat.
Orange coat

I love this coat.

I want to LIVE in this coat.

I want to marry this coat and cook its dinner and emotionally blackmail it around the holidays.

(more…)

Great, ANOTHER thing to blame on André Leon Talley

It’s funny, but one of my favorite scenes of Unzipped, the Isaac Mizrahi doc about the designer’s struggles to design his fall 1994 collection opens with a shot of a gentleman’s foot in a hand-painted zebra dress shoe.

Attached to that shoe was Miss André Leon Talley. I can’t remember the rest of the scene, I believe he and Mizrahi and possibly John Galliano sit around a small room in Paris getting their tarot cards read, and at one point they discuss how Donna Karan would kill for a swatch of the wallpaper in the bathroom, but that slow, tight pan up the length of the foot rocked my sartorial world.

What’s funny though, is that I only realized it this morning, nearly 15 years after I first saw the film.

I have a slight obsession with zebra shoes. Always have.

Not this type:
pimp-shoe

Although you’d be sadly mistaken to think I didn’t at one point have a pair of platform boots with that self-same plastic aquarium complete with goldfish AND glitter.

But give me something like these and I am All. Over. It.:
Laurette sandal by Pour la Victoire
It STILL kills me the zebra was out of stock, although I very much love the oxblood and ivory pair, which I wore to play Jesus in an alternative-casting Passion Play, although come to think of it I really should’ve worn LaCroix.

Generally speaking, I prefer my animal prints in calf or pony hair (pony hair is still calf, but I think the treatment is slightly different) but when I was bopping around Amazon last night looking for flats, I found these:

zebra rain skimmer from Barefoot Tess

Zebra-print rain skimmers from Barefoot Tess,
available up to a size 15 and on huge sale for $9.99 (you know how Amazon likes to mess with its prices, so snap these up, be sure to select the zebra color instead of black and white –which is the same thing– because if you order them as black/white you’ll pay $56.

I ordered mine last night and will give a full report when they arrive.

The Daily Kick: Yes, it’s Galliano.

Galliano stud platform sandals

But it is enough?

The Daily Kick: Beautiful and Deadly

The Topkapi emerald dagger

Dior Cartagena Sandals

17th century Mughal dagger

early 17th century Mughal Dagger

…it’s like lookin’ in a mirror.

Dior “Cartegena” Sandals and a collection of 17th and 18th century Mughal daggers, because a girl’s GOT to have accessories.

Fall Couture 2009: Dior!

Get your panties pretty and your liquid liner sharp. There’s a New Look in town.

00040m.jpg

I’ve got to give it to our Funky Little Fashion Troll, he really got it bang on for the economic climate this time. Instead of having his enormous cast-of-thousands, all-singing/all-dancing couture shows which –while undeniably fun– isn’t in the very best of taste at the moment, what with Lacroix’s troubles and the whole unpleasant “global recession” thing, he went old school and did an intimate showing in the Dior atelier.

Intimate, as it turns out, was the word of the season.

Galliano said he was inspired by photographs of Big Daddy Dior dressing his models backstage before a show, and while I never thought I would describe JG as “shrewd” this whole collection, its presentation, design and production rings as just that.

Yes, it’s light and frothy and fun what with the under-as-outer and the corsetry –did you note it’s never vulgar?– but the bones of this collection are strong and smart and mostly wearable right off the runway. Galliano, for all the basques and whatnots, stayed super close to the house and most of the pieces –particularly the jackets which were capital-H heaven– are 30 year pieces, which is where the smart money is right now.  I also suspect that by focusing on separates, Dior can maintain their uncompromising quality of couture at a price point that’s a bit more accessible in a recession.

Moyen jacket

I will stab you for this jacket

Gorgeous

Now are these in my wheelhouse or what?

And don’t think we won’t talk about the shoes. I don’t like dropping serious bank on fabric shoes but:

cd4.jpg
cd5.jpg
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RIGHT?! I’m not actually just wild for the last pair, but I do think the garter clasps are an awfully clever take on the Dior “D” logo. Oh, and do we even need to start the betting pool as to when Dita Von Teese is going to show up in these?

cd7.jpg

I actually don’t think Sasha Pivovarova  wore this that well, and I suspect it’s only her stature as Model of the Moment that got her in the Bar Suit, which comes straight from the 1947 collection, but she does illustrate the scampy 1980’s undercurrent –see also the Poison Ivy spiral perm– that added a little edge and kept this show from being too costume-y.

cd8.jpg

This was actually the look that impressed me most out of the entire collection, because it’s just perfect. There is nowhere to hide an error or an errant stitch and the collar is just…how do they even DO that? This is going to be in a costume institute someday. Scout’s honor.

cd9.jpg

I don’t care who you are, up to and including Olga Sherer who is actually modeling this piece of gorgeousness. If you think you’d wear this better than I would, you are sadly, woefully, painfully wrong. Blessyourheart.

And finally we have the confections:

cd11.jpg

cd12.jpg
cd13m.jpg

I’m not just blown away by the enormous gowns this season –although I do expect to see someone on the red carpet in that first eggshell explosion– and I suspect Galliano’s heart wasn’t in it as much as it has been in previous seasons, but it didn’t especially detract from the overall collection.

Click here to see the whole collection: the details of the INCREDIBLE hats, the bags that are going to give Kelly a run for her money and the fantastic make-up, and for those of you who want to chip in and buy me the entire collection for my birthday, thanks everso. I’ll write of you fondly in my memoirs.

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