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Fashion Notes: Best in Show, Pre-Fall 09 (Part II)
by The Kindly One


I am a great fan of bomber jackets, and I particularly loved Givenchy's version. No real surprise. I don't think Riccardo Tisci always knocks it out of the park, but I am generally a fan of his jackets, as he regularly cuts dramatic necklines that frame the face and high, narrow sleeves, design elements I look for as I find them personally flattering.


Finally, a menswear look that doesn't fall back on old, tired notions of sexiness/cuteness/girlish whimsy. This is menswear, period, cut down to fit women without regard to femininity or dressing for men (thank you, Balenciaga). Of course, without concessions to the figure, 90% of women couldn't wear this look, but I didn't choose it for its wearability. I've chosen it more for the idea of taking on laddish cardigans and detailing and the overall aesthetic of extremely boyish clothing, both in look and cut. Turns out you don't need shrunken vests and glen plaid short shorts to look sexy in menswear.


For at least the past five years, probably ten, the film Grey Gardens has been a perennial, at times primary, force within fashion. There are a variety of factors that contribute to this, including the Olsen twins' "Dumpster chic" aesthetic and general advanced skill in layering and tweaking proportions; the neo-boho/SoCal aesthetic in the early 2000s; Marc Jacobs's hugely influential 2005 and 2006 Fall/Winter collections, in which he masterfully culminated a twenty-year obsession with layering, deconstruction, and grunge and basically established The New Order for silhouettes and layering to come; and the general hipsterism/new formlessness/grunge-cum-lately aesthetic currently driving fashion. I don't know if Grey Gardens directly influenced this look, but I do think Balenciaga captured eccentricity here in a way that is appealing and ladylike. The dress is gorgeous and feminine, and while the coat is almost barbaric, it manages not to compete with the dress. Overall, the look is restrained and chic and sidesteps the more overt, sweater-as-a-headwrap influences you'll see.


The thirties are a yearly revisitation in fashion, seen every winter I can remember, though more of an influence some years than others. Unlike Grey Gardens, I'm not really sure why this is so much of an influence. Eighties resurgence aside, grown women don't want to dress in a nostalgic reverie. My best guesses for the constant recycling of the idea is that it is primarily American designers that cling to it (think Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen, Proenza Schouler), and Americans are more guilty of theme dressing than Europeans (and everyone else in the world).
That said, this is a beautiful iteration of the theme from Lanvin. I am a huge fan of black lace dresses, as well as dresses in this cut, and the combination of the two does my heart good. I also love the fur shrug over the dress. Given its cut and color, this is a dress that could easily look dour, and the fur adds a much-needed dose of whimsy and shape. Overall, this is such an elegant look, beautifully executed top to tails.


If this dress looks familiar, Tilda Swinton wore it to an event earlier this year. Tilda - she may have crazy hair, but she wears the best gowns, hands down. I chose this gown from Lanvin as best evening dress because it will never age. It isn't laden with trendiness in cut, color, or detailing. It doesn't rely on a passing notion of prettiness, femininity, or sexiness to sell itself. What sells it is its elegance - the draping, the dramatic shoulder-tie, the overall demure quality of a gown that draws attention to wearer and acts as her frame. I'll leave it at that. This is a dress that explains itself.

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8/18/2009 [3]

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