March 2010

Remembrance of Fashion Future

Are the creations that wended their way down the catwalks in far-flung places worth waiting for here in L.A.? by CAT DORAN

alexander mcqueen Alessandro Lucioni

By the time this goes to print, the fashion world will have gone on its semiannual world tour from New York to London to Milan to Paris and back home again. And we, the army of the armchair observant, will have glazzed it all from behind our glowing computer screens, salivating over any standouts we covet for our closets and eschewing any misfires.

For those who don’t follow along at home as closely, all of this traveling, all of this cooing and oohing and self-congratulating that is going to be done by the garment industry in that span of time is an exercise in delayed gratification. Why? Because it’s all over something no one can get their grubby hands on for six months. And if you think this is some big tease to get you to crave the clothing more—à la Apple and its product announcements—think again, dear innocent. It’s merely a production glitch. Oh, and an outdated business model.

Alexander McQueen advanced the game to the next level last September, when he showed his spring 2010 collection live via Webcast, but now that he is so sadly, tragically gone, the future of future-thinking in the fashion world seems a lot cloudier.

As I type this, several designers at New York Fashion Week are readying themselves to jump on McQueen’s bandwagon and stream their shows. It remains to be seen if anyone capitalizes on the desire McQueen expressed to make it possible for people to shop the runway by ordering directly over the Internet while a show is in progress. Without McQueen’s pioneering spirit, I honestly don’t know that anyone else has the cojones to break stride with the establishment.

I hope someone proves me wrong, but for the time being, the status quo is still slogging along. Magazines (including this one) have been running editorial with outfits seen from collections presented back in September almost since they were shown on the runway. Celebrities have been photographed on red carpets in most of the key looks. And now it falls to stores to sell these clothes that will have been all but forgotten with the online advent of next season’s wares. The timing just seems so...off.

In what feels like a Twilight Zone vortex, I find that though I’ve been exposed to certain elements of this season for the past six months, I somehow still have a hard time remembering everything that traipsed down the runways. How can that even be? I have a good memory. Were things that unmemorable, or are they just irrelevant to life in L.A.?

There has been much ballyhoo this season about the return of sportswear, most notably in the debut collection by Phoebe Philo for Celine. While I appreciate the clean lines and muted camel-tone palette, I do find the whole thing a little recession-depressing. It’s like this is clothing for New York or someplace where the economy is inescapable and so are the trends—even when the trend is snoozily sensible sportswear.

I have always admired the propensity of people in Southern California to dress according to their own beat rather than in up-to-the-minute fashion. Everyone-rockabilly guys and gals in their ’50s clothes (and cars), surfers in their T-shirts and Rainbow sandals, metalheads waiting for a show in front of the Whisky a Go Go—is working a look to within an inch of its dear life. And sometimes it makes you wonder if there’s no place for fashion au courant when you’re competing with lifestyle dressing choices.

I got to thinking about what styles could really make it here in L.A. There are, of course, the terrific-for-the-runway and potentially fatal for real-life dragon-hoof/lobster-claw boots Alexander McQueen showed along with his reptile-print puffy-hipped dresses. Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness were in a virtual tie for first dibs on being photographed in them, but I can’t really imagine we’ll be seeing too many (any) women braving those ankle breakers here. Walking appears beyond challenging, but driving in them? Forget it!

What I can see is Balmain’s disco cavewoman making her mark. The strategically tattered mini-dresses, the military jackets and the hair that’s almost worthy of a back-in-the-day Van Halen video? Kind of L.A. perfect, don’t you think?

Or how about Balenciaga’s skinny leather pants and patchwork jeans? When celebs started having their pictures taken traipsing around town in boyfriend jeans, it seemed for a second that skinny jeans would go away. But they’ve come back with a vengeance, tighter and skinnier than ever—a legging meets-jean hybrid. And they don’t appear to be leaving the spotlight just yet. Maybe they’re so difficult to wriggle into you want to keep them on for a while as evidence of your accomplishment.

And finally, though it pains me to say it, because I think a clog is terribly clumpy on anyone’s foot, I do believe that come summer there’s going to be a lot of stomping around in those country clogs Karl Lagerfeld did at Chanel. Yee-haw.