Tuesday, December 12, 2017

On the Loss of Johnny Hallyday

Famed blogger and neighbor Claire Beermann once asked me to tell a horror story about the loss of a piece of clothing. In honor of France's tragic loss, here it is again:



It was a pale-blue jeans jacket, small and tight, with a Johnny Hallyday decal on the back. I found it in Paris at a junky, stinky second-hand leather jacket shop close to the Pompidou. Was it love at first sight? Of course. Aren’t all our favorite pieces that way?

It was 1994 and I was just out of college and meeting up with my half-French, half-American boyfriend in Paris for Christmas together with his family. I was living in Prague at the time, and he lived in New York. He laughed his head off when he saw what I brought home one day, saying, “You know who this is, right?” No. Of course, I had no clue about the “most famous rockstar you’ve never heard of” Johnny Hallyday, the French Elvis. You see, in a total rush, I’d misread the name as Johnny Holiday, thinking, well, if there ever was a wishful doppelgaenger of me, her name would be Holiday, for sure.

I wore it for the rest of that month we spent together underneath a fur-lined Siberian Mao coat I’d found secondhand in Prague and with this long black skirt his mother had bought me for Christmas which had a black feather trim at the bottom (like Prada this season!). God, how I loved that jacket. How I miss it today! And losing it was dramatic: it was New Year’s eve and I was excited to be spending it with my beau’s French friends. Since my French was so childish, I decided that the only way for me to make friends was to greet each and every guest at the door with a shot of (still illegal back then) absinth. I blacked out before midnight and when I finally woke up, the party was petering out and heading to a bar for sunrise shots of cafe calva, espresso with cognac, or, as the Italians call it, the “correcting coffee,” caffe corretto. I was still a bit woozy, hardly in the realm of “correcting” the sins I’d inflicted on my liver, and wasn’t paying attention to the coats hanging right behind my head. Stollen! The funny thing was that I loved Serge Gainsbourg at the time, so losing the rocker Hallyday didn’t bother me so much. 


If I could remake it today, I’d put Angie Merkel instead.

(originally published at C'est Clairette, http://cestclairette.com/2016/12/das-verlorene-kleid/)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cooldudes of Berlin-Mitte, part 1:


Why have the men of Berlin have got the fashion thing down pat?


Why’s dat? They seem to be less confined by trends. I’m always coming across these dudes in Berlin Mitte who are true trailblazers, or maybe not even trailblazers. They just have their very own personal sense of style —and that’s what I envy, that’s what I aspire to without even knowing that I aspire to anything when I get dressed in the morning. I just know that when I go out of the house and I feel good, it’s usually because I’ve put an outfit that won’t be replicated by anyone at any time. That is, I, too, am no trailblazer, no trendmaker, but rather a trend(e)scaper when I feel my best.  (That sounds like a wear a bungee cord around my waist, even when I’m just going out to grab coffee, right? The reality is that i never “grab” coffee. I sit there for hours on end with one and bark at all the environmentally unfriendly to-go cuppers!)

This is also why sleepwalking into Zara is also ridden with guilt. Not just the human-rights guilt, but also the trend-victim kinda guilt. I feel like my own rights to my own decisions are being guided by the invisible hand of the market telling me that I need another (impossible to iron) ruffle shirt! Where is my willpower?

Herewith a plea to myself that if I just stick to the aforementioned cooldude look, I’m going to get better—eventually—at escaping the (mental and literal) clutches of Zara.


lesson no 1:

Pull up your dad socks up high and roll up those trousers. To state the obvious, stripes, checks and plaid work best when worn altogether.



lesson no 2:
Burlap sacks can be made into cool crossbody accessoires that make everything look paleo cool, especially when carrying a big stick you found in the local park.






lesson no 3:
Jazz up a button-down (office!) shirt by putting a net shirt underneath and call yourself the catch of the day!





lesson no 4:
Jazz down any and all bling with an unlikely captain’s hat.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bikini History, from the New York Times, too good not to re-post here


On this day in 1946, a French designer made bathing suit history — and helped popularize a trend of linking women to the devastating power of nuclear fission
Louis Réard named his tiny two-piece after Bikini Atoll, the Pacific outpost the U.S. was using to test the atom bomb’s effect on naval vessels. 
Women’s images had been painted onto World War II aircraft, and the plane that carried the bomb that devastated Hiroshima the previous year was named after the pilot’s mother, Enola Gay. 
The atomic tests kept up the tradition. You can listen to Orson Welles announce on his radio show that one bomb would be decorated with the likeness of his wife, the Hollywood star Rita Hayworth. It was stenciled onto the casing with the name of one of her roles, Gilda. 
There are many other examples. A few years later, Las Vegas introduced the “Miss Atomic Bomb” competition, combining two things Nevada was known for: its early nuclear tests and pinup girls. 
And American radio carried songs like “Atomic Baby” (1950) and “Radioactive Mama” (1960), whose lyrics suggest that a couple will “reach critical mass tonight.” 
Evan Gershkovich contributed reporting.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What to Wear to Art Basel

Dress Like You Are Already Famous 

Every day, you wake up and search for meaning. From the B12-Omega300-Collagen muesli you shovel down your gullet to the charcoal detox toothpaste. (Detox? Yes, because though we won’t admit it, we still eat marshmallows.) Even the clothes you will put on your back – all of it has meaning. All of it is a reflection of the choices you make. (It’s Descartes! It’s not who you are, but who you think you are.)
On the day that you wake up knowing you will enter the vast stage of meaning in the art fair known as Art Basel, you will be a little overwhelmed. You will be accosted by meaning all day long.  +/- 4000 artists bombarding you with their own personal meaning in life. The greatest meaning you’ll find, however, won’t be on the walls (painting) or on the floor to trip over (sculpture). It’s the walking displays, the walking-talking VIPs and not-so VIPS of Art Basel that are actually what makes Basel Basel. You will spend the greater part of your day with your jaw open, catching flies, aghast at the parade of personal style.

What to wear when in competition with 95,000 other art stalkers? Asymmetric, high-low, mismatching loafers, how much ruffle is too much ruffle?  Ask the hedgehog: he knows many things:


This is not advice column (i.e., just wear Balenciaga, basta, boom: a no-brainer), but rather a reflection on the thoughts you will tango with. My only advice is this: Dress like you are already famous.




mismatching Balenciaga/Vetements combo, the two unruly children of Demna Gvasalia

You could go easy and go monochrome, but you’re hardly be able to compete with the intelligence of a Robert Ryman even if your t-shirt has been ripped by a Japanese-Parisian designer in all the right places, this is going to be a difficult game. 

Try borrowing one big enough to wear off the shoulder and tell people your canvas goes beyond the canvas. Or as a skimpy dress? Necklaces, in the fashun world, have been long relegated to the realm of statements. Wear a white one. Plastic. Trust me. Proclaim your non-objectivity. Your refusal to participate in the game of Suprematism or Color Field painting. And then screw it all: just wear a pair of sporty white tube socks with something really really fancy.

Suddenly with the advent of a pussy-grabbing president, feminism has become hot again. How to dress like a feminist without wearing an unseasonably warm pink wool hat? Barbara Bloom gives us a clue. Mirrors and doubling: always keep them guessing.



the work of Barbara Bloom
How does this translate? The partner look, double trouble, of course. Preferably not your lover, just a friend. Get them to wear exactly what you are wearing and instantly you’ll be an instastar. The more nonsensical the outfit the better: Tahiti 08 t-shirt, Off-White jeans that are not off-white, and cheeky Anya Hindmarch “wink” sneakers. Go forth and be identical!



Another thought altogether: take whatever it is that you want to wear and graffiti it with whatever it is you want to say. Say, you want to say something, like, “Peanut Butter,” or “I am Jungle.” Say it loud, in ALL CAPS, in washaway marker. If anyone asks what it is, tell them you ran into Bethan Huws and her clever sandwich boards in the bathroom.
the work of Bethan Huws
Where’s the game changer? This year, it’s Chinese. Both Wang Shang and Guan Xiao have made sculptures that are so weird. In Wang’s case, it’s about rocks. Not just any rocks. And no, not rock studs, you Valentino addicts. Scholars rocks. That sounds like an oxymoron but it’s an actual thing in China, these rocks that are so special they’re declared special. (Sounds very Duchampian and it is!). 
Wang Shang


Whereas Guan Xiao makes objects that speak of the unspeakable language they speak. It’s all very heady and this is where you’re outfit is simply not going to compete at all. A wallpaper-esque floral dress over some deconstructed jeans and a baseball cap (freier wahl!) and lots and lots of faux pearls. No matter how hard you try, the Battlestar Galaxia is lost here. You will never look as good as Mick Jagger. Ever. End game.
  http://www.matchesfashion.com/intl/products/Balenciaga-Floral-print-gathered-neck-jersey-dress--1094731

Alert: the mega-collectors are easy to spot in the VIP crowd. They are always in celebrity disguise. Like an American mom and pop visiting their daughter for the first time in Europe: matching track suits and plastic visors.



Now, just imagine this outfit with Kelly's visor, thanks to The Corner, Berlin:



 Jacquemus skirt, Saint Laurent jacket, Vetements boots


Hot. Like I said, Dress like you are already famous. And not just Andy’s 15 minutes of fame. But now that track suits are all the rage, and they range from 1000s of dollars upwards, beware: there are mega-collector imposters out there who are quite simply fashion snobs.





Monday, May 15, 2017

Learning from New York Fashion Week: Make Wrong Right Again


Make Wrong Right Again


For an entire year of my life, every morning I had to convince my daughter of the merits of wearing the right shoe on the right foot. “Why that when it also works like this?”
Suddenly, her battleground tactical response is not only right but also totally fashionable. Wearing things the wrong way is so right:

Gloves are worn under your coat sleeves, right? Wrong.
The gloves that were once worn with your evening gown are now worn either over your see-through blouse for the warm-cold look or over your trench which is actually not a trench but more like a dress under which you are, of course, wearing nothing! Gloves are also really hot when worn over your coat worn backwards. Or how about gloves over your sweater sleeves? It’s a dirty world out there anyway. Why take your gloves off… ever?




Tights are worn under your pants or skirt, right? Wrong.
Tights are still worn under your pants, ok, but now they are also worn over your shirt. This makes any, and I really stress any, shirt look interesting. 


(Maybe model Celine Delaugere makes anything look interesting?)



Button-up shirts are buttoned in front, right? Wrong.

Button-up shirts are worn backwards, of course. Get with the program. (I’ve been touting this look for years: catch-up, people!)

http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2017-ready-to-wear/vivienne-tam/slideshow/collection#10

Sweaters are worn like shirts, right? Wrong.
Sweaters are worn wrapped around your neck: weren’t the arms of a sweater made for this anyway? No more endless, fussy wrapping of your scarf. (It’s twist-tie vs a ziplock bag kinda thing. You’re either one or the other.) 

(The activist-model Leomie Anderson at Vivienne Tam)


Norwegian sweaters are worn with … (it’s not a trick question) snow boots, right? Wrong.
Norwegian sweaters are worn with satin high-heel sandals, of course, because you just never know when the sun is going to come out and you gotta start somewhere on that tan — ankles and toes are the last places you’d notice your winter-doughnut consumption.

(Jenna Lyons last collection at JCREW: boo hoo. No one knew it then.)

http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2017-ready-to-wear/j-crew/slideshow/collection#9


Blazers are worn over shirts or (better yet) nothing at all, right? Wrong.
A blazer is, of course, worn over another blazer. Preferably a different fabric altogether and unbuttoned just enough to show off your beer belly, muffin top, whatever you want to call that thing, because hey, it’s not really cold enough for two blazers anyway.

(again, here Jenna Lyons calls it: a real, excuse the pun, Trailblazer.)

It’s wonderfully freeing, isn’t it? Next time you go to your closet and you start trying to put things together, you just have to have one idea in mind: how do I wear this the wrong way, et voila, you’ve got it right.

Well, almost: Never under any circumstances should you try looking like Woodie Allen dressed up as a sperm: wrong, wrong, wrong. (Ok, ok, if you have a highly refined sense of humor, then by all means.)

                                                                  
http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2017-ready-to-wear/delpozo/slideshow/collection#34
(Delpozo never bores me, left. Woodie Allen neither, right.)


Plastic, by the way, is not only a wrong idea for your sofa. It’s also wrong-right over your fur. 

http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2017-ready-to-wear/calvin-klein/slideshow/collection#24
(My favorite Calvin Klein look from Raf Simons first collection for them: I hope this is faux-fur.)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Infatuation Inflation of Socks: What Could It Mean?

(detail from my sock drawer: this is not a Boltanski installation but rather the work of Marie Kondo, tidyingup.com)

 (below: the always excellently funny and on-point Leandra Medine of manrepeller.com)

I’ve long been a proponent of getting sockaphobics to toe the line of the higher powers that be: Miuccia Prada, Marc Jacobs, and Alessandro Michele have long shown us the way of how a good pair of socks can make a blasé outfit look positively quirky. Leandra Medine (manrepeller.com) is queen of this look: with loafers and socks pulled up high, like she’s channeling her Dad in a mini-skirt.

I can remember going into the Prada store in New York one day in 2008, after the Crash, and noticing that the only thing I could actually afford was a pair of 30 dollar socks. At the time, I balked.

Today, I’m hot for anything Gucci. Anything! But the Gucci socks for 190 euro is where I stop toeing the line and where I begin to draw the line. Socks for the 1%? Not in good conscious, no thanks. You’ll find me in Footlocker stocking up on crisp new tighty whities. Call it the Tennis Sock Rebellion, if you will. Unfortunately, garment workers were probably exploited in making a 3-pack for 7 euro? What to do? Are socks Made in Italy really the only choice we have?

http://www.matchesfashion.com/intl/products/Gucci-Ruffled-and-striped-cuff-ribbed-cotton-blend-socks-1074264

The froufrou numbers at Alexander McQueen are hand-knitted by the Queen of England herself. At 245 euro, a bargain considering new post-Brexit export duties:

https://www.net-a-porter.com/de/en/product/808302?resType=single&keywords=alexander%20mcqueen%20socks&termUsed=alexander%20mcqueen%20socks&enableAjaxRequest=false

Seriously, though. I do understand that this is all an indicator of the worth of things. I once met a group of grandmas on a train, and I watched them knit. How long does it take you to do a sock? Online forums confirmed what they told me. They weren’t exaggerating the heroic act. It takes give or take 6 to 20 hours per hand-knitted sock vs the 67 dollar factory version here:

https://www.net-a-porter.com/us/en/product/757207/vetements/cotton-blend-socks

Note the cleverness of these socks. they’ve stitched “Sexual Fantasies” on the bottom where no one but you and your loved ones can see them. They’re listed as “imported” so we don’t know where they came from. Vetements socks, however, by comparison to Prada, some ten years later, seem to be a bargain, it turns out. Here’s a pair of Prada socks that sell for 355 dollars. (Should have grabbed those ones for 30 bucks when I could. Missed my chance.)

https://www.net-a-porter.com/us/en/product/743637/Prada/lace-trimmed-ribbed-cotton-knee-socks

The Little William Gucci socks, for 350 euro, by the way, don’t qualify as socks. These are veritable accessoires. Easy to copy and readily available at a Zara near you, I predict, within the month.

https://www.net-a-porter.com/de/en/product/802723/Gucci/little-william-embellished-ribbed-cotton-blend-socks

Made in Spain, or at least we hope.


Friday, March 3, 2017

When Your Kick-Ass Mood Means Laying Down Some Serious Cash

I know a girl who bought a pair of Vetements Doc Martins boots recently. She said, it was Sunday and I was in a really bad mood. That bad, I said? What distinguishes the Vetements Doc Martins from the real Doc Martins (besides the $630 price tag, of course)? I don’t know, she said. They’ve got something written on the side and I cannot remember what. I’m taking them back. I just wanted to kick some ass that day.
(The original Doc Martins pictured above with the Union Jack on the back of the boot: I am desperate to find these! Please help.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

On the Right Foot

Every once in a while, I'll look down lovingly at my newfound white hussy boots and gasp, thinking that I've put them on backwards, like a kid. At this point, it's become a déjà vu moment because it's happened so often.

Big change is in the air. I'll be wearing my boots intentionally on the right foot, so to say, on 17 February, the day before President's Day, here in Berlin as I hit the office* as a reminder of a saying I once heard:

Bumpy roads lead to unexpected destinations.



*Unless, of course, my colleagues here in Berlin go on strike too!