Valentino, Best of Italian Design

Valentino collection haute couture, autumn-winter 2007-2008, photo Jean Tholance

In the more than two decades of reporting on fashion collections, I have noticed that the most successful designers are those who turn a deaf ear to the ramblings of the press (both good and bad reviews),  while remaining faithful to the aesthetic needs and tastes of his clientele. This is especially true in the world of Haute Couture where the clothes cost a fortune and the number of women affording them a scant few. This also applies to a man whose name is synonymous with high fashion, a man who, for 45 years, embodies all that is great with Italian design….Valentino. Continue reading “Valentino, Best of Italian Design”

Homage to Yves Saint Laurent

The French press paid homage to the king of style with cover stories

Adieu to the King of Style —For many of us in fashion, today marks the end of an era. Yves Saint Laurent, the undisputed king of fashion, has been laid to rest and I, like many other style mavens on this planet, mourn the lost of this great fashion legend. Long before there were rebels like Jean Paul Gaultier with his signature conical bras, or innovators like Issey Miyake who transformed objet d’art into sculpted metal bustiers or even Phat Farm’s gritty, hip-hop, “streetwear, there was Yves Saint Laurent who introduced all of this and more to the world of high fashion. “I participated in the transformation of my era. I did it with clothes, which is surely less important than music, architecture, painting … but whatever it’s worth I did it,” the designer said in 2002 upon his retirement. Continue reading “Homage to Yves Saint Laurent”

Cristobal Balenciaga… Master of Style

Ruby-pearled tulle bolero, 1962 DR

For the past two seasons, the biggest trends to march down the catwalks from Paris to Hollywood have been elegant and sophisticated. It’s the kind of look inspired by Alfred Hitchcock divas like Kim Novak or Grace Kelly, more than a half century ago. Back then, the designers who epitomized French couture were Dior, Balmain and Givenchy. However, the man considered to be the master in this domain was Cristobal Balenciaga. Continue reading “Cristobal Balenciaga… Master of Style”

Ave Montaigne … Paris’ Fashion Blvd

Louis Vuiton window © Bob Bishop

Shopping in this capital is far more than an mere act of self indulgence. It’s the best way to discover the glamorous side of Paris as well as France’s renowned tradition of quality and attention to detail, and inimitable sense of luxury. Though there are several distinctively different “fashion neighborhoods” around the city, none of these can rival with avenue Montaigne’s aura of elegance and plethora of prestigious designer ware.Lined from end to end with a who’s-who list of legendary labels from around the globe, this street represents the best planet style has to offer. Continue reading “Ave Montaigne … Paris’ Fashion Blvd”

Marc Jacobs

 “The most Parisian of American designers”

Marc Jacobs © Bob Bishop

With his first Paris boutique opening this fall, Marc Jacobs will be the toast of this October’s “Fashion Week.” Paris’ Bon Marché department store tributes this key American fashion designer, as the guest of honor for its current thematic expo dedicated to New York. A sampling of 21 exclusive garments from his eponymous collection is presented within a spectacular “room,” with anthracite walls, barren branches and spotlights. Continue reading “Marc Jacobs”

Yohji Yamamoto’s “Intellectual Fashion”

Yamamoto Spring ‘98 © Monica Feudi

In 1981, Yohji Yamamoto was part of a small group of Japanese designers who defied traditional modes of fashion by introducing androgynous frocks to the runways of Paris. This “intellectual fashion,” as it was called, replaced frills, bows and silks with sober materials and experimental cutting and draping, much of which shared a base of Japanese industrial uniforms. A graduate of the famed Bunka Gakuen college in Tokyo in 1969, Yohji launched a label called “Y’s” in 1972. Continue reading “Yohji Yamamoto’s “Intellectual Fashion””

Puttin’ on the Glitz

Once upon a time, fashion week in Paris provided a sneak preview of the style trends for the upcoming season. However, after a blitz of frocks for the boudoir and creative ideas that never completely gelled as real clothing, many experts are currently pondering the purpose of fashion, or more specifically, the point of fashion shows. More than ever, it is apparent that there are clothes and there is fashion. Clothes are what we wear. Fashion is a whole ‘nother animal. Continue reading “Puttin’ on the Glitz”

New Voices In Style in the 90’s

With all the hullabaloo over the retro-inspired looks dominating the headlines these days, one has the impression that professionals in the rag trade are ignoring the challenge of the impending new century. The fact is, most of the garments photographed and televised today are designed for the media and the purpose is to hawk perfume and leather goods rather than anticipate or suggest what we might wear at the turn of the century. For a glimpse of what the future may hold, you have to get away from the big names and go off the beaten track where young designers are experimenting with new concepts and materials for the 21st century.

Continue reading “New Voices In Style in the 90’s”

French Styles Grow Up and Out

My first bout with weight discrimination in France came while I was working as an illustrator for a now-defunct fashion house, Schiaparelli. Eyeing my tiny frame, the boutique director felt it her duty to warn, “Here, there are no 34s and certainly no 44s.” Okay, I could buy a size 36 and cut it down. But what do women tipping the other end of the scale do for clothes? Buy two dresses and stitch them together? Continue reading “French Styles Grow Up and Out”