November 2010

The Style List—November 2010

Fendi, Spring 2011

Home Alone

I may be the only guest on the list, but my outfit will be stunning

When I saw all of the floor-skimming looks sashaying down the runways for spring 2011, they all seemed to be saying the same thing: hostess gown—in other words, what you wear when you entertain in your home.

Now, this is very conflicting for me, because I am paralyzed with fear over pretty much every single detail regarding inviting people into the four walls that delineate my world. I can’t cook, I don’t drink, I feel responsible for everyone’s good time to the point of distraction—and I don’t trust that I will be all too stellar at ciphering the subtleties of an interesting seating chart. I feel I have to confess that I have never, ever—no, not once—entertained in my home.

For the 20 or so years I lived and worked in New York, this wasn’t a problem. I could count on one hand the number of friends or acquaintances whose apartments I had seen the inside of. But once I moved out west, I immediately found myself not only in the homes of friends but in the homes of their friends. Come one, come all seemed to be the reigning ethos where dinner-party invites were concerned.

Turns out L.A. is a town of full of entertainers, and there are likely scores of reasons for Angelenos’ collective interest in opening their homes, not the least of which has something to do with the size of the real estate here. You can’t blame the New Yorkers I knew for not inviting one another over, when, truth be told, their apartments wouldn’t hold more than four people—and only if one was in the powder room at all times.

But back to the fashion part: A lot of the emphasis on long skirts, rather than the über-short ones of the past several seasons, has to do with the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective that just closed at the Petit Palais in Paris.

Who wouldn’t be inspired? Clearly not Marc Jacobs, who mixed an homage to Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver with YSL’s off-the-shoulder peasant looks; or Karl Lagerfeld, whose Fendi collection had its own off-the-shoulder peasant influences.

Even Raf Simons at Jil Sander joined in the maxiskirt conversation with what I think is the hostess gown I most covet for the party I’m planning in my mind. It is a blue-and-white-striped gown with pockets in the side seams and a billowy silhouette, which would allow the hostess (me) leeway in case she gets nervous and eats one too many canapés. Pretty much the perfect dress—no Spanx necessary. (Seriously, is anyone else ready to join me in the revolution against those sausage casings? Spanx should be outlawed as the least comfortable, oddest flesh smushers ever invented to torture women who already feel insecure about their gravity-challenged bodies.)

So, let’s say I could theoretically work up the courage to throw a party. I would break out this Jil Sander number, pile my hair up in an enormous bun—or better yet, I’d buy an obscenely long hairpiece and style it in a large braid coiled at the back of my head, just like my mother did in 1967. And of course, since I’d be doing this entertaining at home, I would be wearing a beautiful pair of flat sandals, probably in gold. No need for high heels and their ensuing back pain to ruin this fantasy.

Seems like the perfect party. Except that it happens at my house, and when everyone leaves I have a sink full of dirty dishes. I have a better idea. Can I come over to your place? I’ll bring a really nice hostess gift.

Rhapsody: © Herb Ritts Foundation

Rhapsody in
Black & White

by Cat Doran

If, like Herb Ritts, you grew up wealthy in Brentwood in the 1960s, you, too, might have convinced neighbor Steve McQueen to host your high school prom. Or your family might have spent time on Catalina with John Wayne. Or your brother might have whiled away afternoons shooting hoops with Marlon Brando. But chances are you wouldn’t have made the leap from celebrity neighbor to celebrity photographer to bona fide celebrity yourself the way Herb Ritts did. A winning combination of charisma and talent leapfrogged him from favorite child of a very flamboyant mother (Shirley was once arrested on sketchy bigamy charges) to favorite photographer of Elizabeth Taylor.

Herb Ritts: The Golden Hour (Rizzoli, $65) is an intimate celebration of the man by longtime collaborator and friend Charles Churchward. The life story of Ritts, who passed away in 2002, is told through a touching combination of family photos, never before published works and engaging reminiscences from loved ones and friends, most of whom share varying degrees of celebrity themselves—Madonna, Cindy Crawford, Richard Gere, Anna Wintour, Steven Meisel and Annie Leibovitz, to name a few. For an up-close look at original prints of some of the photos that defined an era in fashion, shoot over to Fahey/Klein for Herb Ritts: Twenty-Five Years, showing through December 4. 148 N. La Brea Ave., 323-934-2250,

Cabin Fever

by Hayley Atkin