THE FALL 2014 COUTURE REPORT

 

each season, i question the relevance of couture. and though i’m one for the glamour, the concepts and the imagination- i also find great importance in wearability and everyday function. real women- that’s what fashion is really about. the couture collections begin with versace, and have since the italian fashion house made it’s way back to the runways of paris with atelier versace. fresh off the runway, the versace collection was inspired by the time period of 1947-1957. dark and appropriately as a fall collection, there were deep purples and use of leather in the collection. always a stunning cast at the house of versace, this season was no different. mariacarla bosocono opened the collection, as late 90’s supermodel stella tennant brought the collection to a close. there was a greater amount of restraint and modesty in this collection, which was nice. the versace collections from ready-to-wear to menswear have been more gimmicky in recent years. i can fuck with theatricality but the label has seemed to try to remain relevant in the mainstream with associations with rappers and especially musical fixtures like nicki minaj. these things do keep a label in the eyes of consumers at a range of levels within the market, but there is a certain grade of style that should be executed. i loved this atelier versace collection and really loved the modernized take on the 40’s and 50’s. donatella is really a master of feminine charm, and this collection was chic and refined with a female sense of mystique. that balance is necessary for their archives, and that almost crass aesthetic that they toss to the masses is definitely, regardless of how i feel about it, a part of the versace brand. it’s that in your face, more-is-more, maximalist approach. all things balanced, loved the concepts of this couture collection.

leaning to my mention of theatricality once more, i still cannot help but think of galliano during show season; especially at the house of dior. old habits die hard, i suppose, but when looking at the dior collections, there is a complete 360 that the house has done. admirable, in trying to refine their aesthetic and draw it back to the original code of the house, the new dior look relies on intricate details seen in construction. while there lacks a sense of drama, in obvious ways, the drama is filled into these collections at a different angle. that angle, from what i have seen and can foresee seems like it may become dulled if worn out for another season. the backdrop of the runway show, though stunning, seems too familiar in comparison to the last three seasons that raf has been at dior. couture is an especially important aspect of the house, and for a fall couture collection- the drama did seem a bit more turned up. there was use of fur, and greater attention to a range of silhouettes. simple dresses with flowing lines were accentuated properly with couture details- duh, that’s what this shit is all about. the white lacquered floors of the runway accented the clothes in a pure way. that’s what the work of raf simons has done for the house of dior- it’s cleaned it up. and though this beauty is visible, i wonder how much longer it will be before this classically sophisticated direction will be traded in for a more modernized take on things. obviously, ready-to-wear is just around the corner, and all eyes are usually on dior in paris, along with the other big labels, like givenchy and louis vuitton. but in the arena of haute couture, dior wins. and almost by default before vuitton does not produce couture, while the house of givenchy has made the conscious decision to opt out of the historically haute tradition.

the usual romanticism was seen at elie saab, again- another house that has no issues with dissing beauty in the droves- it seemed all like something that we’ve seen before. armani privé continued it’s lull in a way that really only makes you feel like it really is time for giorgio himself to retire and for new, young blood to remix the codes of the house. while i respect the legacy of the armani label immensely, i often don’t take the time to speak on what they are doing out of the sheer annoyance of what they are not doing. the progression of the label, in ways that are visible in each and every collection they present is heavily weighed down with stagnancy. it’s almost as if giorgio’s refusal to retire, or clear avoidance of such are all for show- to prove a point. while no valuable points, in the form of design, are even seen. it may be a long shot; but it’s all boring. and then they shoot these excellent advertising campaigns that make the clothes look better than how they were presented on the runway. with giorgio’s comments about the fashion calendar, and his gripes of non-attendance from editors during his shows- with all due respect, it seems as though it’s unnecessary. there is a lack of growth. fashion is a business, and it seems like armani’s point in not retiring is as dull as his collections. it is now beginning to come off as grumpy old man gripes. if there was a concern with the label and it’s relevance through style and design, a plan to re-energize the label would be put in place. speaking to what appeals to me as a fashion consumer and spectator, no one is really checking for armani in the facets of armani exchange, giorgio armani and yes, armani privé. as seen in the collection and mentioned in reviews, it was noticeable that shorter hemlines were intended to appeal to new, younger customers- but those attempts to entice will fall flat. the approach is old, dated and expired. it’s time for the armani label to rise back into relevance through new creative direction. or nah?

in lieu of my mention of what this new direction looks and feels like in these modern days of couture; and yes, you might think that modern and couture is touchy. considering the historical techniques of couture, i think it’s almost just as important if not more important to apply those techniques and weld them with undeniably innovative approaches to silhouette and character. fashion is really about an energy, the clothes can disguise this, accentuate it, balance it or kill it all together. alexandre vauthier has quickly become a master of modernization, and a viable competitor of what such competition looks like. then you have the margiela approach of intentional awkwardness or their fuck-with-the-psyche approach to dressing. the thing about this sense of modernity is that it can also read like a gimmick, as i did mention with the house of versace. modernization, when done the right way should not cheapen, but cool. it should add layers of content instead of stripping them away in a way that makes it more digestible to more people. couture is the unapologetic approach to design- we’re talking hundreds of hours on one garment, for one customer- it’s the lap of luxury that many fail to even touch, much less become aware of. giambattista valli seemed to almost marry the philosophy of design seen at margiela with what we seen at vauthier, as well as at dior. they borrowed the flowered girlies from dior, while fucking with the silhouettes in a way that reminded you of margiela in an intentionally psychological way. then there was the purple fur numbers that incorporated or gave vauthier a run for his money. this is the type of competition worth keeping score for. concepts are only as great as their interpreters and the giambattista valli collection housed and personalized his take on what all the other labels were doing, and have done. perfectly executed in my opinion.

collections that fell flat for me were schiaparelli. a label to watch more closely since they are attempting to revitalize the brand, but perhaps its only because i am not as familiar with the house and their codes. the collection was seemingly animal themed, which again lead me to my pet peeve, no pun intended; for collections that rely on gimmicks to sustain or gain greater traction. it’s difficult to make a way for yourself as a free standing fashion entity, but to be held to an existing legacy and to deal with the pressure of properly reintroducing that level of aesthetic to a set of future and present day consumers who almost always lack a sense of understanding and information must be a challenge. while i am holding out on forming a real opinion before a few seasons are under marco zanini’s belt, i will say- i am not a fan of such a design direction. modern, yes- not cheap. and these concepts felt that way to me. granted, construction could’ve been on-fucking-point, the visual was just not desirable to my eye that seeks and gravitates towards beauty. unnecessarily resorting to gimmicks as well, was viktor & rolf, with a fleet of red velvet looks. which i hated. understanding that the fashion design duo are more avant garde, this just wasn’t pretty, nor did it embody the attitude of couture. this could’ve been something really strong and great, but instead- if seemed like a joke.

the house of chanel is king, and alongside it was valentino as it’s queen equivalent. the juggernaut of a house, chanel took inspiration from architecture of le corbusier, while valentino referenced the 19th century. both collections contained a true sense of romanticism, beauty and regality that was unmatched by many others this couture season. a pleasant surprise was to see much more variation at valentino, and to see the ways that lagerfeld abandoned more modern ideas seen last season for couture, like sneakers. true range, growth and beautifully executed method of interpreting inspiration. both collections were standouts for me this season, beautiful and sparing in their own ways but balanced by all the other gimmicks that seemed to stumble onto the catwalks. overall, fall is where you bring the drama and that’s what these two did. while the other labels are still perfection in waiting, it’s all one big process. it’s not even about what collections do from season to season, it’s monitoring that progression and looking at things down to the detail, and from the bigger picture. with show season looming, we’ll get our big picture soon, then we can rest on the beauty, the cool and the elegance through the holidays to do it all over again, come january. welcome to SS15 show season.

visit style.com for complete coverage of the FW14 haute couture season
stay tuned for coverage of new york fashion week this september

THE TOP SPRING 2015 MENSWEAR COLLECTIONS

the most exciting area of growth, to me, is menswear. this show season, that growth continues to thrive. visible in concept, and defense of the classics- these ten selections are in no particular order and present a range of style. whether minimal or maximal, i love the idea of balance. weighing drama with the subdued, in a way that is progressive and challenges the ways that we perceived style for the modern day male. there seems to be more creativity that is poured into the collections, allowing the menswear sector more competitive edge than ever before. women dominate high fashion, but these collections have proven that they playing field is currently being evened. these are my absolute favorite men’s collections for spring.

acneACNE STUDIOS there is something so essentially cool about acne studios. there is a mainstream relevance that is executed in this super cool, indie sort of way. this spring, exaggerated knits were my favorite element of this collection. the color story, a routine aspect of dope for the label, were spot on. i’m always a fan of the ways that acne does outerwear, and loved all the brown and green tones presented in the pieces from this collection. while some of the fits were much more wide, different then my normal taste of well tailored-ness, i appreciated the deviation from what has become the norm in menswear design. desirable in ways that are classically undeniable. the almost hybrid sneaker-dress shoe, velcro inspired design was also another high note from this collection. there was something almost vintage about this collection, the soft yellows were too dull for my liking, but overall, the collection presented well and struck a cord in me, stylistically. it’s always interesting to see the ways that fashion brands play with silhouette; but even more intriguing when done so in the realm of menswear. there is a certain code of etiquette in menswear, and that code is seemingly being re-configured more and more with each season. acne is still closely guarded to their minimalistic aesthetic, which i love, but this show season in particular it seems as though they are breaking away in a subtle manner to create a greater sense of variation in design. simple and striking, just as i prefer- love this collection and absolutely had to include it in my spring selections; it’s functional and wearable, which are two of the most important elements for menswear and style all together.

balenciagaBALENCIAGA the house of balenciaga is deeply rooted in the legacy of womenswear, and always will be. clean lines and wider shapes were also seen from the house of balenciaga as their menswear collections seem to also further develop. with alexander wang’s installation as creative director, the house has been afforded a greater opportunity to appeal to a clientele base that is significantly more street. the house of balenciaga is reputably one of the most sophisticated, but in a way of progression. the use of shapes and remixing of the ways that women look has long been the history of the house. as a spring collection, the menswear set had its share of shorts, but was also paired with more transitional season style wardrobe pieces like trench coats, and outerwear. black, white, grey and blue in palette- the collection also continued to incorporate aspects of suit and sport. aspects of sport were more clearly pronounced in the collection’s footwear. the presence of men’s bags was interesting, though not powerful enough in my opinion. interesting as well was the continued use of leather for the spring season, which seems to haunt these high fashion collections and poke fun at any real aspects of function and/or seasonal appropriateness. all in all, the collection presented a number of strong points, but has long been presented through look book images, off runway. it’s interesting to see that a house as influential as balenciaga, in the world of womenswear, is somehow unable or reluctant to garner some of the same influence in aspects of menswear. progressive, and valuable, i like this collection and admire the greater alignment of design from men’s to womenswear design at the house.

dries van notenDRIES VAN NOTEN intellectuality by way of dress is the dries van noten way. taking a more serious fashion approach to the often lighthearted direction of spring, dries van noten was reportedly inspired by sensuality of masculinity, which you feel in the clothes. there is a relaxed air to the collection, an ease and effortlessness- which i often look for in fashion collections. style should not feel forced, and the van noten approach to design mirrors that methodology perfectly. dries mentioned in runway reports that he was tired of the “rock aesthetic” and this collection seems to raise the bar on what that flavor feels like. as oppose to hard, or edgy we got soft and graceful. exposed chests, loose necklines and relaxed blazers danced throughout the collection in rich, deep tones of navy, bold shots of red and partial use of print. delicate use of off-white and beige were also seen which drove the feel of romance even further. footwear in the collection communicated the feel of sensuality as well, as each pair of shoes looked like ballerina flats- which allowed masculinity to be accentuated to a greater level of sensuality through reference of femininity. i may have stated this once before, but oh, well- this collection calls for a re-referencing of such; there is always something poetic about dries van noten. with a more concentrated sense of awareness to menswear, as a man who also has an appreciation for womenswear, i appreciate that delicate nature in the menswear side of things. since so much of being a man is tied to aspects of strength or structure, it’s beautiful to see such fragility or sensitivity in clothes. that ease is what being a man is all about, that’s the allure of masculinity.

 

valentinoVALENTINO the house of valentino has made great strides in allowing their menswear collections to be seen as individualized entities apart from their iconic womenswear line. as the label that brought use of camouflage into the trend stratosphere, this season, that trend seems to be in use with greater intention to also fade it out. the collection was surprisingly decorated with use of print, while patch worked butterflies reminded me of boy scout patches. the palette was more fall, while the sandals reminded us of the spring direction. i loved the brown tones that warmed this collection and thought it was a nice graduation from what we seen last season from the italian fashion house. in the spirit of bespoke, or male couture, the true quality of the work in the valentino menswear collections are seen in the details. details that cannot possibly be described or rivaled through any piece of writing. some use of print was a bit ambitious, which i respect, but didn’t favor as much as i did with the solid toned designs. the solid tones make a stronger impact to my eye, personally. from what we seen at dries van noten, to also givenchy- print is often a design addition that is expected during the spring/summer show season. all in all, i have liked other collections more than what was presented by valentino this spring, but i appreciate their differentiation and extended efforts at individualization in menswear. menswear can often times be dull, but the house of valentino, through simple concepts and remixing of sport luxury have been able to successfully transcend upward.

off whiteOFF-WHITE C/O VIRGIL ABLOH the most culture enriched collection selection of my spring round up, is the work of virgil abloh. as the creative director for kanye west, i was only made aware of virgil last year. through friends and industry chatter, i had inquired about work at DONDA and virgil’s name came up as creative gatekeeper. surprisingly, and like a stroke of fate, his name began to appear. in the form of off-white. the interesting thing about fashion and the true artists that exist within that sub-set is the fact that so much visibility is between these limitations and borders that encase culture, style and publicity. fashion labels these days need to master the art of balancing all three and many do, quite beautifully. in garnering a greater public sense of visibility, virgil had major traction as the mind behind pyrex vision; which was a smaller scale urban clothing brand that was and still is gaining more and more visibility on digital platforms like instagram and tumblr. consisting of sportswear elements like basketball shorts and long sleeve t-shirts, off-white is almost the high end counterpart to what virgil started with pyrex vision. quickly becoming an outfitted element of the hip-hop/rap star sub-culture, off-white borrows simple graphic elements and welds them together in cool ways that appeal to hard hitting fashion kids. what i will say of off-white though, is that is borrows a bit from what we’ve seen from saint laurent. the whole alternative or rock star element is incredibly similar, but off-white lends a greater independent feel which is surely a reason why consumers will feel encouraged to buy. there is a rapid sense of development through the vision of abloh, and what we see here is just the beginning. one to watch, most definitely, virgil is a bold talent that has not only the creative genius, but the cultural context to really catapult himself into the style stratosphere far beyond then what we see here.

visit style.com other collections from the SS15 men’s show season
click image to view collection gallery

THE TOP FIVE RESORT 2015 COLLECTIONS

the start of show season is usually guided by the pre-season collections, and this season was no different. clean lines are my choice aesthetic, thus that theme was recurring in my selections. whether it was classic 70’s re-invention, or greater modernization of new school leaders, these five were my absolute favorites from what was presented, off runway, before the start of the true chaos known as show season. acting as an appetizer of my runway coverage, this countdown was kept quaint with great intention. the selections themselves were kept smaller in scale, in an effort to not too heavily distract from other stronger collections which are seen in areas of both menswear and womenswear. this is just the tip of the iceberg.


halstonHALSTON
– as one of the great american originals in high fashion, the house of halston is no stranger to success. but at present day, the halston heritage collection is not as visible as it should be. i was pleased to see this resort collection and the modern approach, in classic halston form was served well. easily competitive with other new school labels, the halston brand has enjoyed it’s share of attempt to re-introduce and while this collection is nothing completely groundbreaking, the collection still shows promise. with creative director, marie mazelis at the helm, the label seems to show promise of a different grade. that said, there is still more to come. a successful runway show, for starters. a strong campaign, and even stronger collection that houses concepts that raise the bar of the 70’s fashion house in a way that is reflective of their history, and progressive enough to open doors of new opportunity. much like what we’ve seen at balenciaga or christian dior; the idea of re-establishing a house in a modern way without compromising it’s DNA is definitely possible. a controlled palette allowed the collection to remain unchained by too much trend, in order to tap into the houses roots. with show season around the corner, we’ll be able to see which ways halston, label, re-envisions it’s heritage. with so many disappointments in trying to revitalize the label, i am not willing to bet on their efforts, but can definitely appreciate a committed approach to re-birth. an applauded effort, but unsparingly, i am expecting to see much more development in the new show season, as well as in the following three years. with a campaign and strong direction- this shows potential.

jason wuJASON WU – the new school sophisticate, jason wu continues to dominate with unending chic- even in the pre-season. a strong collection of concepts that are mindful of past work, i am excited to see the ways that these looks are aligned with his new collection during new york fashion week. milky pastels ruled the color story for the collection and fashion seriousness was all over the models faces. jason wu has steadily marketed and improved his aesthetic in an interesting way. representing some of the greatest american talent on the scene currently, wu has moved with greater ease and stronger concepts season after season, and this pre-season, that approach was powerfully felt in delicate delivery. the broken crown molding on the backdrop of the collection images was interesting, and almost representative of wu’s modernized take on the classics. the collection was overtly sexual, and poses a certain energy that crosses boundaries of age. piece by piece or complete look, each wardrobe visual provided in this set was immaculately done. there was enough prowess to communicate strength, while there was also enough gentle coordination of what it takes, in our modern times, to be a lady. admirably so, i expect the same level of sophistication from wu’s collection come this show season, on the runways of new york fashion week. i love seeing the ways that he further remixes the classics in ways that allow you to appreciate what is protected, while being inspired by the ways that those elements have also become revitalized.

max maraMAX MARA – clean and crisp femininity are among the common themes that tie all of my selections this pre-season, together. the max mara collections all contain a certain cleanliness about them, which i love. often times, too clean can border boring- but that’s not the case with the mara label. there’s a way that italian labels do minimalism which seems to come from a pure place of contrast, as much of milan as a fashion scene has been built on maximal-ism. this pre-season, though simple and clean, the label opted to ornament their clean looks with more maximalist elements. resulting in a new, fresh approach that packs more power from look to look. the privately owned family label has done an excellent job at consistently competing with more of the new school labels who have adopted minimalist concepts. from pre-season, to show season, and through campaign season, max mara is one label that serves the classics in well rounded form, and feminine charm. loved the use of fur in this collection, and liked that i felt more personality, which is important for labels who are committed to the simplistic design approach. in palette, i loved the ways that the contrasting tones were combined with the soft greys that i have grown to associate with the label. while some of the styling seemed to be a bit forced, i definitely respect the slight alteration in direction. it’s ambitious enough for the pre-season, and hints at an even greater effort that waits in the wings for this show season. a great lead in for the spring show season.

muglerMUGLER – structural chic void of theatricality, but in a good way. the mugler label has seemingly been built on the basis of drama and exaggerated silhouettes. this pre-season collection beautifully ushers the mugler label into more modern design territory. there is a simplicity in this collection, and a very stripped manner in which beauty is shown. the debut collection by newly appointed creative director, david coma; the collection is beautifully conceptualized and sharply executed. the use of sheer, the strength seen in the use of shape or even lack thereof- there was nothing particularly mugler about this collection aside from that strength. there was a purity to this resort set, and the combined use of color and black and white images was done perfectly. as another collection of clean lines, this selection proves that the aesthetic of high fashion minimalism is only growing more popular with time. mostly black and white in palette, with notes of blood orange and cobalt blue, the collection proves to be a stunning entry for koma, whom is sure to lead the label into greater, more serious fashion avenues. nicola formichetti seemed to respect and align the direction of the label more closely with past work of thierry mugler; but this presented limited sense of new and revitalization in my mind. relying on celebrity cameos and overly aggressive characterization on the runway, that presence seemed to overwhelm the clothes, only further distracting from them. which is what makes all the simplicity of this collection that much more stunning. simplicity is the silence amidst noise, and in fashion- there is plenty of noise. any moment of solace is appreciated, and this here was pure.

lapointeSALLY LAPOINTE – graduating from goth aesthetics; sally lapointe is a design label which thrives on the brink of the new era in fashion. lighter, more feminine and progressive- the collection we see from lapointe is everything that sophistication is for the modern woman. true growth is seen here, and the lapointe label has a relationship with this site. as one of the first designer labels who has consistently remains in contact from season to season, regarding new collection, fashion show invites- the lapointe label is one that has been on this site’s radar for sometime. as the final selection for my resort collection round-up, i am truly proud of the growth that is visible in concept and execution. the use of fur in this collection was by far my favorite; the use of color was done so in a way that was very adult. that maturity was well balanced with a sleek set of design lines that felt unlike any other collection from lapointe, that we’ve seen in the past. that’s what fashion is all about, growth, and monitoring a certain type of evolution. super excited to see what ways lapointe has grown on the runways of new york fashion week this coming show season. i love the blurred lines of feminine and masculine, while femininity is leaned more toward in a subtle manner. perfect combination of appeal to the modern fashion market. clean lines, careful selection of color, and attention to detail in all the ways that draw you in. this is pre-season, next up? menswear.

visit style.com for full more 2015 resort collections
click image to activate gallery

SOUND VS. STYLE: MARIAH CAREY

MC

when mariah carey burst onto the scene in 1990, her hit “vision of love” broke the mainstream format of what music sounded like at radio of that time. this groundbreaking instance would become a regularity in her career. in the first three years of her career, a blockbuster set of four albums were released, including the best selling christmas album of all time, “merry christmas”. through the early years, mariah dominated the adult contemporary and pop billboard charts. throughout her career, mariah’s musical journey has touched genres of soft rock, gospel, jazz, hip-hop and R&B. quite literally the most influential vocalist of the 1990’s, mariah’s resume is as extensive as should be an artist of her caliber. set to take home the icon world music award, carey has sold over 200 million records worldwide. the artist known as mariah carey is still at present day an untouchable name in vocal, lyrical and production that cannot be touched. to her credit, carey is the best selling female artist of all time and moving into the 2000’s continued this reign with the need to transform. blending genres of urban sound into the pop musical mainstream, mariah’s influence goes far beyond what can be awarded through grammy’s or what can chart billboard.

“butterfly” the album, was particularly important for mariah’s musical journey and personal growth. it became the first time she was able to have a true footing in her image, and you felt it. a genius songwriter, mariah has co-written her entire catalog, produced or co-produced much of that catalog as well. she had long established an identity in the composition and lyrical components of her career, which created a strong foundation for her career to sustain upon. most artists in today’s industry have a strong image component but a weakened musical identity. for carey, this inverse is likely a large factor as to why she has been able to soar as a top billing female entertainer from the golden age of the music industry. the ethereal, melismatic arranging of vocals with a colorful word play something like a fairy tale have become mariah’s trademarks since the very beginning. emotions, music box, daydream, butterfly, rainbow, charmbracelet- all album titles from her catalog, and all synonymous with her artistic persona.

but beyond just pretty words, and whistle register vocal arrangements, mariah is an icon of culture. her 1995 hit, “fantasy”, became the first single by a female artist to debut at #1 on the billboard charts, and only the second single ever to do so following the lead of michael jackson’s “you are not alone”. spending eight weeks at #1 and a total of 23 weeks in the top 40 on billboard, “fantasy” was a best selling single in 1995, moving 1.5 million units and becoming certified double platinum by the recording industry association of america. it was during this era that mariah began to transition away from her adult pop contemporary home in music, and ventured more into the genre that would soon become the hybrid of hip-hop/R&B. working to produce a remix for ‘fantasy’, carey enlisted sean “puffy” combs. the result of this pairing came a greater merging of rap and R&B, when it was decided that wu-tang clan’s ol’ dirty bastard would become a feature on the hit. the lyrics, “me and mariah, go back like babies with pacifiers” became emblematic of the hard vs soft image that mariah would become much more enchanted by for the remainder of the years she would spend as an artist representing R&B. soaring higher and higher with each record release, the album which fantasy was produced for “daydream” became an international best seller, moving 25 million units worldwide. also from that album, “one sweet day” became, and still is to this day- the longest running number one single of all time. the song spent 16 consecutive weeks at number one. these feats during this leg of mariah’s career in the year 1995-1996 sealed her position on the music scene as one of the most untouchable female singer/songwriter/producers in the history of music. a title she still holds today.

much of mariah’s early career was guided by the hand of her then husband, sony music boss, tommy mottola. as her voice flourished on the airwaves, and her album stats began to stack, things got rocky in the marriage. resulting was a divorce, which resulted in the musical works that revealed her freedom, an album we know as “butterfly”. released in 1997, the album welded together the elements of mariah the woman, and mariah the artist. influences of hip-hop thumped into carey’s poetic lyricism- moving five million units while in the process. revealed and represented were a fleeting type of beauty that resounded in the sensibility of freedom and escape, the very taste of fantasy with a daydream like sequence- heroic in a way. the album felt genuine. while other albums held up against billboard chartings and platinum certifications, you seen a real identity with the butterfly LP. this would become the formula for mariah’s albums to follow. there was the classical, R&B feel of both ‘music box’ and ‘daydream’. but rather than poising thoughts of freedom, ‘butterfly’ accentuated and realized such daydreams in music boxes. the particularly interesting element of ‘butterfly’ was the bold references and depths in which hip-hop were seen.

as mariah has developed as an artist she has seemingly graduated into the R&B roots in which she was always destined. beyond the commercially acceptable, chart-topping, diamond album certified confines of industry, mariah is now where she needs to be. and that position is as a representative of the musical genre most affectionately known to music fans as rhythm and blues. criminally underrated, though heavily decorated with accolades in comparison to her other contemporaries and peers- there is no greater female artist than that of ms. mariah carey. with an arsenal of an album catalog, a wardrobe to rival a queen and talent that has secured the future of her children’s children, this style vs. sound feature could forever, due to the simple fact that mariah is the most influential female figure of the 1990’s and 2000’s. while this cultural influence often is not seen in accolades at the grammy’s- culture speaks for and represents itself. the trajectory of her career can never be surpassed, nor can it be made equivalent. a cultural diva of unmeasured talents, mariah is still a relevant force in music and cannot be dethroned simply because, no other female artist has lent their talent or taken risks to merge genre’s and bring art forms together in the ways she has- as an artist. her latest studio release is evidence that her taste level, instincts and understanding of music remains untouched.

a sound for all who have enjoyed any of her music for the past 20+ years is found in the new album. for the critics who have felt that she has deviated from her adult contemporary roots, mariah has created: “cry.”, “camouflage”, and “heavenly”. for those who have shifted into her fan base through her contemporary hip-hop inspired production elements, all other records on the album just about quench that thirst. which is actually one of my favorite album cuts, produced by hit-boy, “thirsty” – which was submitted to urban radio as a single. the album includes the worldwide success “#beautiful” which features R&B superstar, miguel. but the album is different than other albums by mariah. it’s more sophisticated, and well rounded. they say history repeats itself, and here we see another moment of glory for carey, similar to the way that we seen freedom flourish with “butterfly”. all in all, this post is long over due and my dedication to mariah as a fan can never be met properly with words or expressions. nor can it even begin to be expressed in just one feature, but many, and made evident in more emotional transactions that surpass words. i could praise the album to high heaven, but it’s up to you to listen and hear what i hear.

this is an installment of the sound vs. style music feature series
click here to view past artists featured

KIM KARDASHIAN & KANYE WEST FOR VOGUE

there are no reasons left to hate. only reasons to love. what american vogue did was represent interracial coupling in the utmost of glamour. shot by annie lebovitz, the world’s most famous couple, kimberly kardashian and her fianceé, kanye west grace the april issue of the premiere fashion publication of all the world, vogue. the cover goes beyond what can be said of celebrity, or beyond what public relations offices could have ever built. there is a gap that has been bridged, a void that has now been filled. what happened when kim and kanye decided to get together was a merge; a blending of media culture. him from chicago, raised by a photojournalist and an english professor. her from los angeles, being raised by an armenian-american attorney businessman and stewardess. both have had upbringings that have shaped their view of the world, and have remarkably impacted the ways that they have built their own separate empires in music, film, fashion and commercial media. kanye’s fruitful career as a producer evolved into an even more fruitful career as one of rap’s most regarded performance artists, moving beyond the confines of urban media, and into the glossy competitive world of high fashion luxury. kim’s career as an american television personality has lent her image to a string of successful brands, and has assisted in further expanding the family business built on the kardashian name, along with her two sisters kourtney and khloé, all managed by their mother.

kanye’s career began to take an upshift while, he too was managed by his mother. kim learned the ropes of the entertainment industry, working for her dad at his entertainment firm, where she learned to hone in on her entrepreneurial instincts. kanye became quickly linked to rappers like jay-z, lending his production genius to various projects. as he developed as a solo artist, the visual component of his work rapidly developed through collaborations with world renowned artists and luxury designers. kim began gaining traction with her television career, which documents the life she leads with her two other sisters, brother and two step sisters. as their private boutique business developed, along with their regular television exposure, the world of celebrity embraced them. the public quickly became fascinated with both kim and kanye separately.

the two were associated for many years as friends before they joined in union in 2012. the two share a common struggle of the glaring spotlight, and the tragedy of losing a parent. both kim and kanye’s romantic struggles have separately and very publicly played out for the world’s stage. scrutinized for everything from styling choices, lyrics, romantic choices, or even the name of their child- one thing still remains, these two are making history. for my top 20 covers of 2013, kim kardashian was the only female to rank in my listing twice. the two appear in what is the first ever cover in vogue history for an interracial couple. a major feat and major first of intense value, the cover also beautifully represents what it means to be an american. that diversity, the blending of culture and that heightened sense of beauty. this will no doubt be the number one cover of the year, in my book. and i don’t give a fuck about what you think about kim kardashian, because she has become an emblem for women of color in business. kanye west actively pushes the artists boundaries in the music industry and no two could have been a better fit. a better fit for a vogue cover, a better fit for the world of celebrity and a better fit as a representation of what love can be in or out of the spotlight. to put it simple, this is progress for individuals of color.


 

congratulations to both kim kardashian and kanye west
special thanks to vogue and conde nast

FALL COLLECTIONS • TOP FIVE PARIS

PARIS – at the close of show season on the fashion calendar, it seems us fashion spectators, the models and editors alike are dizzied by all that has been shown at the three other fashion capitals. but when it’s time for paris, there’s a pause, a moment of silence. suddenly, all that chaos from capital to capital seems worth it, when all the effortlessly chic collections glide down the catwalk at some of the greatest fashion houses in the world. paris is a gem, and often looked to as the leader of high fashion, but this season was interesting. we seen a greater culmination of diversity across the board, and progress showed it’s face in runway casting. there was a throng of talent out of new york, while london banned together to secure a better creative future for it’s young, emerging designers and milan continued with exaggerated opulence and show stopping vibrance. paris, though vital, is just one piece of the luxury puzzle that makes up this unstoppable, evolutionary entity we know as high fashion. these are the top collections from the city of light. word up, let’s get it!

LOUIS VUITTON – the most publicized show of fashion week in paris, this season, was nicholas ghesquière’s debut for louis vuitton. to describe the collection in one word, i would choose- paced. ghesquière is a genius of many layers and many perspectives, equipped with an innovative method of translation. this season, there were injections of his own signature style seen in the collections silhouettes. his favorite girls were cast for the show, including ethiopian supermodel stunner, liya kebede. press was warded off until the end of the show, so that none of the collections themes or aesthetics were revealed before their scheduled debut. collection inspiration was posted at style.com, as photographs by juergen teller aided to convey this message in a visual format, outside of the show. there was a gentle nod to modernity, but a powerful grasp of the house of vuitton’s eternal code of french luggage aristocracy. was it jaw dropping? no. was it horrible? not at all. but was it everything that we expected it to be from a fantastical let’s-pretend-this-is-like-what-transformed-balenciaga view point? no. i respect that pace controlled this collection, so as to not rupture the existing brand identity elements of the biggest luxury handbags label in the world. a greater attention was focused upon the clothes in the collection. it was much more accessible than what we’ve seen from vuitton in the past. a staggering 90% of revenue generation at the house is racked in through handbag and accessories sales alone. vuitton’s mission in bringing ghesquière on board is to revitalize the house as a full scale fashion and lifestyle label. fragrances are said to be in the works, and elements of the luggage legacy of the label were included on design of the collection bags. while not the most powerful collection of the season, it was very precise. there is an intention in design that was felt in the story, the choice of color and the adherence to classicism as it relates to the louis vuitton. exciting new horizons, for sure.

BALMAIN – strong is the aesthetic represented at balmain, season after season. olivier rousteing have represented a savvy of youthful appeal bringing industry characters like rihanna into the houses DNA. this savvy has brought about a whole new feel of concentration to the label who elevates what ready-to-wear means in the fashion retail market. the strong shoulders, the razor sharp silhouettes were all present. there always seems to be a military feel to the house of balmain through construction. this season, that feel was elevated. details were dizzingly chic, as every seam was covered in gold hardware- it was truly a sight for gods. again, balmain continues to drive themselves to another playing field, escaping the dreary categories occupied by their luxury contemporaries. one of my favorite collections this season, and my favorite in paris this season; this collection was everything that i envision the balmain woman to be. inspired by the jungle, there was a collage of construction elements that kept the collection thrilling from start to finish. a cool set of enriched greens set to sleek leathers were presented as the model casting represented the new wave of diversity which only torched the already fire hot runway. it was all very striking, in a way that made you want to be those women on the runway. that is what fashion and design should do- inspire you to embody the spirit felt in the clothes. a new kind of woman was seen here in this collection, and unapologetically, in a very rihanna type of way; all likely intentional. strongest collection in paris this season.

GIVENCHY – romantically growing season by season, what was seen at givenchy this season could only be described as interesting. i always love to align fashion collections at labels while contrasting womenswear and menswear. this season’s womenswear collection by givenchy was feminine to the core. the menswear collection? all very masculine. i think the lines have been blurred at the house of givenchy for a while now. androgyny was the name of the game, and has been for many, many seasons at the house. tisci has mastered the fine art of blurring the lines culturally, sexually and artistically. in this luxurious manner, the collection graduated from vague categorization into something more typically feminine, but in a new way that only tisci could produce. always spot on in vision, there was a greater amount of subtlety to this collection. casting at givenchy is always a sight to see. new faces walk alongside known faces and stars are made. this season, a surprise casting for kendall jenner of elite models paris had the reality tv star little sister walking alongside supermodel joan smalls and icons mariacarla boscono and stella tennant. walking near the close of the show, i would not at all be surprised if kendall were to book the campaign for the collection which she debuted as an exclusive for in paris. not bad consdering this is her debut season on the catwalk, internationally.

BALENCIAGA – after ghesquière vacated the house of balenciaga, i had little hope that anyone could fill his place. through a twist of fate and surprise move, alexander wang was appointed as creative director and silenced critics with his debut collection which merged his street sensibility to the spanish houses own creative DNA seamlessly. as important as debut collection may be, so is the importance of pace. it seems to me, conceptually, that wang is losing steam. this collection felt like he referenced archives, but nothing too far back in the history of the house, it looked like he sourced inspiration to closely to the more recent works of ghesquière himself. this collection fell flat for me, as have the following collections that were showed after wang’s debut after his installation at the label. overall, balenciaga is a label with a rich history in innovation and forward thinking. i have long doubted that wang would be able to carry this torch to new heights. while his first collection held a great deal of promise, those potentials seems to be wearing thin. from palette to silhouette, this looked like a failed attempt at carrying over what was done more recently at the label. there is no identifiable element of wang in these clothes. this set was not individualized from past works in a way that felt new or necessary to what women of the future will and want to wear.

CHANEL – the house of chanel continues to remain supreme on the luxury sector. dominating retail sales in all avenues from fragrance, to accessories, footwear and apparel. that level of accessibility and functional luxury was brought to new heights as production for the FW14 collection staged a full scale chanel themed grocery store. this meant chain linked shopping baskets and flavored bottles of juice. there was a reliability that was so incredibly charming about it. gimmicky, maybe. well played. absolutely. another show which featured kendall jenner to our dismay, along side joan smalls and rising superstar, grace mahary. all the girls were out to stroll for chanel groceries in paris. leggings and exaggerrated silhouettes were seen throughout as the signature tweed was re-worked in jumpsuits and oversized knits. while the clothes fared more masculine than feminine, the collection was strong. conceptually from set to garment- chanel took the cake as the show to see and be seen at. this season paris had is share of lulls from the usually strong contenders. but the big names and brightest stars were included in this five piece listing. chanel will always kill on all levels, even their production of a show changes what we now envision for fashion runway shows to be. true artistry, season after season at the hand, heart and mind of the incomparable karl lagerfeld.

visit style.com for full PFW collection coverage
click image to activate gallery

FALL COLLECTIONS • TOP FIVE MILAN

MILAN – more is more in the fashion capital of milan. over indulgent, maximal and gold gilded- nothing is too lavish in the world of italian style. while headlining designers like prada and dolce & gabbana are the ones to look out for, this season, subtlety was what stood out most for me. collections strolled the runway with imagination, some with humor and some pushed the limits of what we know now as style. as the fashion calendar draws near it’s close, these collections are the most interesting and captivating five out of milan.

GUCCI – while other labels helped further push the trend of print, gucci took a back seat. instead of opting for bold color, as they have for the past few seasons, they decided to cast a spellbound palette of pastels for the FW14 season. in milan, gucci is a crowned jewel. a leader of forward style, in a way that blends italian heritage with europan polish, this collection played up the loves of creative director frida giannini. seventies glam was the name of the game, as has been many seasons before at the house of gucci. there was a polished functionality that i loved about this collection. the clothes were well styled, and from look to look there was a cohesion that blended the collections palette beautifully. the collection felt soft and feminine from start to finish. the palette almost whispered and the outerwear was done in textiles that didn’t feel heavy. there was a certain avoidance of anything typically fall in this collection, that i really, really loved. this approach was useful for milan, since most labels in the region are over the top, capitalize on gimmicks and take things a little too far, stylistically speaking. nearly every model walked the runway with matching eyewear, accentuating another avenue of successful revenue generation at gucci, in the form of accessories sales. except for the print standard of leopard, the collection was kept streamlined. crystal encrusted necklines were presented which brought the collection to a close, but weren’t necessarily needed in conveying a message of strong suited style. a standout in the world of italian style for the season, this was one of my favorite collections, for it’s poised approach to style and polished level of execution. a simple and striking message of style.

DSQUARED² – conceptually ambitious, every season, dean and dan have again presented another stella collection for the FW14 show season. as one of my favorite menswear collections earlier this year, the DSQUARED² womenswear collections similarly serves in the same lane, but with a feminine twist. unsurprisingly, the collection was beautifully executed, with supermodel on the rise, malaika firth opening the show backed by two models draped in white. inspiration seemed to have been sourced from valley of the dolls and the film, girl, interrupted. up-do’s, mod styled dresses and model pairings that resembled nurses were all seen in the collection. the theatricality of DSQUARED² is so reliable at this point that it almost has spinned into a wheel of redundancy. small glimpses of  changes are seen from season to season, from menswear to womenswear; but what has really created a shift with this collection? there are signatures that work, signatures that bring about a feel of familiarity. this collection seems dulled in brining anything new to the table, but does not completely sacrifice the feel of inspiring style. DSQUARED² brings a show to the forefront of milan, and almost in a camp type of way. it almost pokes fun at fashion, while representing such cultural nuances, or media happenings. commercial where needed an imaginative where unexpected, the collection was fair and presented pretty options of women, but some aspects of design and style were left unattended.

SPORTMAX – there is a certain element of commercial appeal that i think with, just naturally, when reviewing collections. my selections from each fashion capital aren’t necessarily the best, but the most interesting. so is the case with sportmax. each season, there is a poise to the clothes. outside of that poise, this season, sportmax seemed to raise the bar. a punctuation was shown in this collection this season, an exclamation. the minimal design aspects were easily rivals of calvin klein in new york, while the use of leopard was easily a competitor of what we seen at gucci with a likely friendly slash in the price tag. the fur and use of reptile were enough to make fendi’s furrier do a double take and the reptile was a nod to what tom ford did. fashion is about competition, and this season, sportmax did just that- compete. a strong model casting, as well as inclusion of print in a streamlined way- it was all very chic. what i love of sportmax is the way that they escape the typicality of milan, that overdone, that more is more approach- you don’t feel that with their clothes. and when you do- it’s controlled in a thoughtful way. it’s smart, it’s commercial. commercial can seem like a daunting adjective for many high end labels in narrow minds, but that to me equates to sales. sale-ability is of acute importance in the competitive world of high fashion. and what sportmax proved this season, is that the race to the finish is definitely on. sportmax is a strong contender with a viable vision.

FENDI – perhaps the most innovative part of all show season were the fendi drones that captured the show, flying above the runway. a glimpse into the future, fendi’s website supported a greater thrust into the world of social media and provided a larger dialogue for where fashion could conquer on the digitial scene. this, all without a single look yet presented on the runway. when the clothes began to stroll the catwalk, on the bodies of the models, and the drones took flight- you seen an elegance presented through a layer of cool. the heritage of the label was evident with use of fur, and range was the ultimate theme of the collection. long coats, short shorts, knee high boots and mesh. there was a true ‘fuck it’ sensibility to the aesthetics and choices in design elements this season. it was arrogant in all the right ways, to put a model on the catwalk with her thighs out and then to expose her skin in looks of mesh for the fall. it was young, and vivid. fendi as a label has really graduated from this stifled of style. with a label as entrenched in history as themselves, it’s often a struggle to create a new sense of beauty in this rapidly transforming industry of high fashion. there is this beautiful modernization that has happened with the iconic italian label, and at the hand of karl lagerfeld, this family heirloom of a label will continue to see more growth, and greater thrusts into the future. i loved this collection for it’s forward portrayal of femininity, embracing of diversity and strength of female character.

MOSCHINO – jeremy scott has quickly made his mark at the house of moschino. his humorous approach to fashion is no laughing matter, but is it so bad that it’s good? mcdonald’s, spongebob, and gold lamé. that’s what was presented. unbelievably so, it kind of worked. instantly, like true PR magic, pieces from the collection were seen already being worn. the collection felt very 90’s chanel to me. it was camp, it was playful and all of those things that jeremy scott has become known for, through his own namesake label’s work, as well as his licensed work with brands like adidas. one major mark of criticism was that; this was not moschino. this was very much jeremy scott, but it made no attempt at differentiation between how he has been mindful of the label’s own DNA. it referenced fast food, cartoons and took elements like nutrition facts and exaggerated everything. while this is a sure shot conversation piece, will scott be able to move past gimmicks and really sell? fashion on the runway is very about showmanship, commercialization and press. while this may cause a ruckus for the moment, when will the jokes subside and a serious take on fashion be lined up. it’s cute for the time being to see sponge bob splashed onto an italian catwalk, but come on- is this a punchline or an insult to the seriousness of what large an impact style and dress have on us as a human race? when all is said and done, gimmicks hold no real worth of taste level. gimmicks do little to move culture or art forward. content was served, perspective was allowed a platform; but in what ways was fashion really changed by this collection? milan brought out it’s share of glamour, and laughable attempts all the same. paris awaits, the proper finale of show season, where style leaders produce ideas of the future in the present.

visit style.com for full MFW collection coverage
click image to activate gallery