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THE FASHION NEWZ: CRITICS, BREASTS AND MODEL MEET N GREETS!

I’ve returned from shooting the first season of America’s Next Top Tweet, and am like, how do u sum ^ a whole week of fashion newz in 1 fashion newz post? I will give it my best!!!!!!

Critic Cathy’s gentle return. First with a rumination in Harper’s Bazaar on whether you can have friends in the fashion world (which includes the following on André Leon Talley: “He counts among his tried-and-true friends Lagerfeld, Ralph Rucci, Manolo Blahnik, Marc Jacobs, and the Valentinos”). And then with her feature on commercialization in fashion in the latest T, which was so great that it knocked my socks off—and I wasn’t even wearing socks.

Here’s the puzzle in Horyn’s piece: “It’s as though [Hedi Slimane] refuses to strive for the standard goals of a luxury designer—to make modern, conceptual or intellectually resonating clothes. Instead, he makes straightforward commercial fashion that a woman can instantly relate to.” Later, she states (more pointedly, I think), that beginning in the 80s, “you truly needed to be an expert to appreciate why a jacket was worn inside out or why a dress that made you look like a bag lady was cool…. Today, as high fashion moves closer to mass media—with brand-hosted YouTube channels, films, huge spectacles—there is pressure to simplify.”

If we’re in a moment at which fashion’s purpose is simplicity, to give a woman clothes that she immediately understands without assistance or interpretation, then Horyn acknowledges that designers are cutting out or rendering irrelevant a particular middle-man: the critic.

What Horyn has written is, on its face, the best survey of the fashion landscape you’ll read this year, but what kind of sly nod is she making at her former post and its present role? 

As you may recall, upon Horyn’s resignation, both she and The Times added that she would be working on a book on the history of fashion coverage in the Grey Lady (personally, I’m atwitter for her take on the hobble skirt). Here’s hoping she’ll continue to enlighten us now and again between penning chapters.

Kate Moss’ loving cups. A London restaurant has designed a champagne coupe moulded from Kate Moss’s left breast. Why her left breast? According to legend, the first champagne glass was modeled after Marie Antoinette’s left breast. But why her left breast? Because it was her more liberal breast? Because the other breast wouldn’t sign the non-disclosure agreement? (Vogue UK)

Meet my model, Gov McDonnell! The latest in the McDonnell trial is the fantastical scene—straight modern noir—when the Virginia’s former first couple met their Daddy Warbucks vitamin salesman: “In December 2009, a month before Mr. McDonnell’s inauguration, he met Mr. Williams for the first time, a 10-minute chat at a New York event. But later Mr. Williams invited the McDonnells to his dinner table, introduced them to a male model, identified as Brad, and offered Mr. McDonnell a sip from his bottle of $5,000 cognac.” [The model, FYI.] (NYT)

People just want to look like they’re working out. (WSJ)

THE FASHION NEWS: BARNEYS WTF, ODLR IS A TWO-PARTY SYSTEM!

Take yourself on a NEWZ CRUISE! 

  • Barneys settles racial profiling allegations for $525,000. A nine-month review, included in the settlement signed Friday and headed by state attorney general Eric Schneiderman, found not only that black and Hispanic shoppers were detained “at rates far greater than their percentage of the store’s customer base” between Oct 2012-Oct 2013, but also that door guards “exclusively identified minority customers as warranting surveillance” under the aegis of a security executive hired in March 2013. Minorities were followed by in-store detectives (?!), even when sales associates identified them as regulars. So how do they explain this goofy study? The store will also be required to hire an “anti-profiling consultant” for two years. Two years is sort of a scarily long time—that implies a need for a pretty fundamental change to their in-store and corporate culture. (NYDN)
  • Bipartisan de la Renta! On the heels of that Oscar de la Renta exhibition at the William J. Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, comes an Oscar de la Renta exhibition at the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. “Mrs. [Laura] Bush came up with the idea of doing a show at the Bush Library and, of course, we embraced the idea,” de la Renta told WWD. True to Texan and GW Bush form, this exhibition is twice as big as its Democratic predecessor, which brought in a quarter-million visitors (!), more than Little Rock’s whole population, de la Renta notes. Though if de la Renta’s dining habits are any indication, we know where his allegiance lies. Isn’t it funny that two groups who go to crippling pains to differentiate themselves from one another have the same uniform? Like, imagine a football rivalry playing out in the same team colors. (WWD)
  • And I adore Isabel Slone’s profile of the fabulous Beckerman twins. (Globe & Mail)

THE FASHION NEWS: THE WEST RING! HOUSE OF CREDIT CARDS! SCANDAL!

The most interesting fashion story of the past few weeks isn’t centered in a fashion capital, and it isn’t playing out in the usual style sections: Bob and Maureen McDonnell, former governor and first lady of Virginia, are in the midst of a corruption trial in which they have been accused of accepting gifts and cash from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., a vitamin salesman (people still do that?! But you gotta know the territory!) in exchange for their support of his dietary supplement.

Emails and evidence suggest that Maureen was the driving force—that it was her greed and hunger for luxury fashion that led to the governor’s downfall. Williams allegedly offered to buy her an Oscar de la Renta gown for her husband’s 2010 inauguration, and when an aide nixed the gift, she wrote in an email: “We are broke, have an unconscionable amount in credit card debt already, and this Inaugural is killing us!!” (Is this standard political rhetoric now?)

While that gift was vetoed, Williams eventually took Maureen on a shopping trip in New York in 2011 (where she arrived on his private jet), treating her to sprees totaling $20,000 at Bergdorf’s, Louis Vuitton, and, at long last, Oscar de la Renta.

We’re long past believing our politicians are extraordinary in some way, but the dim hope that they are reaching for something greater or larger or more noble by taking public office is utterly dismantled by the banality of what the McDonnells will have to turn over should they be found guilty. They are tokens of status and greed, of the delusion that wearing the unofficial uniform of women in high office (who are often so beautifully clothed in Oscar de la Renta) means that you belong there. As if there could be more at stake than the simplistic joy of base consumerism that drives people to put a $3k handbag in the crook of their arm. As if a wardrobe is the electorate. 

Simon Doonan’s late-summer advice: wear a sombrero, hose down like a celebrity, and refrigerate your knickers. Here’s Ms. Hepburn in a wide-brimmed beauty to get you started. (Slate)

Thom Browne, Mary Katrantzou and others to design costumes for the City Ballet’s fall gala. Highwater tights, perhaps? While we’re on the subject—take a look at Léon Bakst, whose designs for the Ballet Russe in the early 20th century were a major influence in contemporaneous couture. (NYT)