Beyoncé is not a fashion icon. Vanessa Friedman’s astute column arguing that Beyoncé is not a fashion icon is the big thinky item of the week: Beyoncé doesn’t influence fashion like Rihanna, Patti Smith, or Courtney Love; she doesn’t start trends like Madonna; and she doesn’t push sales like Prince George. You want to be Beyoncé, Friedman says, but that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with dressing like her. That this phenomenon went unremarked upon for so long is sort of astounding, but more to the point, what is a “fashion icon”? For Friedman, it seems to mean you’re a muse for designers and the culture at large, and you push people into stores. But Michael Jackson didn’t do either of those things and he is still a fashion icon; we will always associate him with the glove, the highwater pant, the jacket, the sequin socks, the red Thriller jacket. We don’t call Beyoncé The Bodysuited One. The difference is that Michael took risks. Beyoncé doesn’t have a “look.” She always appears to be in costume for the musical based on her life. She is “dressed up.” Her “casual” Instagrams have the meek “staging” typical of a personal style blogger. And her onstage looks feel like a Versace fantasia of Miss Teen USA pageant-wear. Even when she wears something like her pizza suit, it comes off not as a fashion statement but a living Tumblr post. She always looks fabulous, but never singular. Friedman writes that Beyoncé doesn’t court any particular designer on purpose; I would argue the same for the calculated safety of her dress. She doesn’t, as Rihanna so emblematically does, use fashion as a way to compete with other women. I think she does just the opposite. (NYT)
Prabal Gurung wants to get summa that Brooklyn energy. At a panel in Manhattan Tuesday, Prabal Gurung talked about the ~crazy energy~ of Brooklyn. “I think when we talk about New York, it’s all about Manhattan,” he said. “But when I go to Brooklyn…the energy is crazy, it’s insane.” Exactly. (NYP)
Oh, hey, what about a new designer for The Row? Don’t they need one now?
Attire: Festive, ca. 1973-1976. That’s the dress code for the Paris Review’s book party for Rick Perlstein’s The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan. Nancy Reagan in full Le Smoking? (NY Post)
Yesterday Snooki and JWoww put on Victorian costumes and went to tea at a New Jersey bed and breakfast. (NY Post)
Everyone’s going nuts for sci-fi yoga pants made of car seats and rotten milk that are also edible. Workout clothing made of car seats and Silverescent and Kevlar (the stuff used for flak jackets, which I just learned is a German contraction for the word “Flugzeugabwehrkanone”—and that’s no joke). From May 2013-May 2014, apparel sales rose just 1% over the year prior, while workout clothing went up 8%. That’s because people are jonesing to wear sports bras made of sour milk: “You dry it to a protein powder that looks sort of like flour,” explains Anke Domaske, the founder of Qmilk, which makes its thread from, yes, sour milk. “…Add the flour, add some water again, then you have the dough…” The resulting material is resistant to bacteria and fire, and because it’s just milk and water, is compostable and edible. “I’ve been eating it with strawberries,” says Domaske. In sum: we’re looking at a world in which we roll into yoga class in a jacket meant to protect us from grenades and pants made of cheese curds. Namaste. So: is science better at seducing consumers than fancy fashion marketing? Are we going to have to stop rolling our eyes at smart fabrics? Shall we tout the thermodynamics of Fendi 2Jours? Did Chanel’s new silk-mercury bomber give this socialite cancer? (NYT)
Andre Leon Talley thinks you should get reading. A power trio of ALT plus the inimitable Toledos did a Q&A at Sardi’s last Wednesday for YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund recipients, and of course the whole discourse was studded with pearls of wisdom. A highlight, from ALT: “Mrs. Vreeland and I remained friends for all her life and I have to say a lot of it was based on literature and reading. Of all the things you can do in life, the best thing you can do is read. Whatever you’re interested in, whatever your field is, be it marketing, fashion design, whatever, you have to do your homework…. I take mental notes. Anna Wintour and I have sat at fashion shows for thirty years and we’ve never taken a note because somehow I have some elephantine memory, I know the best dresses. I don’t know every single dress in every single show, but I can remember the best dress collar in 1982—it was on Bonnie Berman, a white dress in double crepe, a spring dinner dress but done like a man’s shirt, men’s tailoring around the pockets and it was all embroidered in gold by hand. To borrow from Judge Judy, Vogue didn’t keep me around for 30 years because of my looks, they kept me there because I knew what I was talking about.” Carmel Snow, ALT notes later, could simply smell the best dress. (Vogue.com)
WWD is now really sure Dior’s numbers are up. After a math snafu, WWD is back! with more on how well the house is doing. Raf Simons’s women’s RTW is doing brisk sales, of course, but men are apparently taking to Kris Van Assche’s menswear and Victoire de Castellane’s jewelry, too: both are up double digits. Dior attributes their growth to an effort to position their brand even higher in the marketplace. (WWD)