Monthly Archives: March 2011

High Voltage

While I’ve been playing nurse to Napoleon – not in that way, you mucky-minded lot! – my favourite russet-haired editor has been busily gadding around for show season.

Chameleonic as always, Taylor Tomasi Hill brought hipster labels Proenza Schouler, Emmanuelle Khanh, Balenciaga, Christopher Kane and Isabel Marant out to play this fashion week.  Hard-edged and offbeat, her aesthetic has evolved to the wittily idiosyncratic.

Witty?

Is there better way to describe the interplay between rebellious adolescence – sartorially manifested in spiked Louboutin high tops, a punk rock Junya Watanabe net skirt, and Burberry biker jacket – and her signature ‘I’m a Lady’ Celine clutch?

You know, pictures of Taylor have the most peculiar effect on me.

Afflicted with nondescript hair and milky Anglo-Saxon colouring – think  pale-as-an-email after ten layers of Rodial Brazilian tan – she makes me restless to change my appearance.

I should know better.

Twelve years ago, I sat weeping in a hair salon, sorrily clutching handfuls of red hair, pleading to have them cut away. 

The consequence of schoolgirl experimentation – akin to the inspired mania of a depressive before they hit the crashingly shit stuff – it was a period in which my barnet transitioned from Marilyn blonde to every nuance of green inbetween.  One industrial-sized bottle of bleach – and eighteen months of regrowth – later, I considered myself chastised and vowed never again to dabble in the black (red, blonde or brown) arts.

For as long as I remember those mistakes, I will resist Ms. Tomasi’s Titian temptations – has anyone ever done so much for red hair? – but, damn, she makes it hard.

|Street FSN, Jak & Jil, The Photodiarist|

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The King is Dead, Long Live the King

Tortured. Genius.

These two words – conjoined in their description of a subject, a state of being, at once both beautiful and ugly – have become favoured currency amongst the media in their coverage of the anti-Semitic imbroglio, and subsequent career implosion, of John Galliano.

By now, we will have all seen the videoin which an intoxicated Galliano, snarling words of bigotry, invokes Hitler and the gas chamber from beneath his piratical moustache – and it will, understandably, have surprised many.  The evidence of his racism is incontrovertible.  Most surprising of all, therefore, has been the rush of commentators – citing reasons as diverse as alcoholism, the madness of genius, and pressures of a frenetic work docket – who have sought to wrest Galliano from the hook of public censure.

What value do such fatuous statements add?

Galliano’s downfall may have been swift and shocking but it came at his own hands.  Having watched a member of my family struggle with addiction, I understand that – in knocking down the walls of social propriety and inhibition – alcohol lessens our ability to moderate behaviour and subverts morality.  Can it go further to create, or supplant, racist thoughts and ideologies where none had existed before?  My answer would have to be in the negative.

Mental illness and alcoholism are corrosive – absolutely so – but, whatever the explanations for Galliano’s tirade, there can be no excuses.  Only he – and not alcohol – stood as actor and protagonist in this debacle.

Subsumed within the apolitical borders of the fashion industry – with its appetite for the taboo – it is plausible that Galliano has long been protected by a phalanx of cohorts either unable, or simply unwilling, to hold a mirror to his behaviour.  As Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, recently commented: “We help these designers build an ivory tower and then we watch them throw themselves off it”.

Indeed, it might be argued that these same people continue to shelter Galliano by proferring excuses – and diverting our attention to the nature of his genius – as though this, in some way, negates the poison of bigotry.

Will Galliano work again? 

Who could ever predict, or know, what the denouement of this plot may prove to be?  There are, literally, six million reasons why Galliano’s statements were abhorrent and utterly unacceptable.  Dior’s dismissal of the designer was correct.  It is therefore regrettable that such swift and decisive action should be made equivocal by the patronage last week of Sydney Tolenado – President and Chief Executive of Dior – at the, admittedly scaled back, presentation for Galliano’s private label.  The horse has bolted – allegedly, to rehab – but it would seem the stable door has not closed. 

It is, of course, tragic to witness a human self-destruct.  It is tragic to observe John Galliano – a designer of extraordinary thematic imagination – snuff his once glittered career.  Nevertheless, we might be well-advised to remember the greater tragedy affecting, still today, the lives of all those needlessly brutalised by racism and prejudice.

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First, Last

A blogger of workshy persuasion, I will ordinarily commence a new post with a confetti of apologies for my radio silence.

This one will begin differently.

It begins with a thank you to each and all of those who have taken the time to write such beautifully kind and thoughtful messages since Napoleon’s accident. I’ve been quite the emotional wreck these past weeks and – much like receiving a little hug – your words have proven in turns cheering, fortifying and hugely touching.  

Napoleon is beginning to do much better. 

In the tradition of all bloody annoying male stalwarts – think of Shakespeare’s ‘Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch’ Mercutio – he’s taken to complaining about my “fussing” him.  Where such defiant ingratitude might otherwise cause my displeasure, I interpret it as a sign that things really must be on the mend… and then fuss the poor bugger some more.

Wicked, me?

This first post coincides with a last. 

Madame Roitfeld’s final issue of Paris Vogue went on sale last week.  As though projected through a television screen, the cover editorial Coeur a Corps Perdu features a swanlike – albeit for a broken neck and overplucked eyebrows – Saskia de Brauw.  It gives witty ode to Roitfeld’s successor, “Emmanuelle”, with its erotic 1970s aesthetic. 

I’ve yet to fully consult Google translate read my copy but, already, my favourite part is Carine’s Edito

Handwritten and without marshmallow mawkishness, the closing observation – ‘It’s because everything must end that everything is so beautiful’ – brings a poetic poignancy to this, her farewell edition.

À bientôt, Carine.

|The Fashion Spot – Vogue Paris|

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