Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Weighty ‘Issues’ of Fall

The big fall September fashion magazines are (yawn!) bigger (if not better) than ever. Actually, they are collectively so predictable (well, predictable in the sense that you know you will have to weed through practically the entire book before you even find the editorials, as they seem to be buried, dwarfed, outnumbered and outweighed by the hefty ads; and predictable in that the ads and the editorials pronouncing the ‘next big thing’) all look the same.

I cannot review Harper’s Bazaar or Vogue since I must admit I have not had time to sift through either. And in the case of the latter, I feel I should be hitting the gym for more bicep curls and upper arm exercises before I even try to lift it and get it home. Just kidding of course, though I’m actually not exaggerating that much. For the record, in her online blog (www.nytimes.com/style), Cathy Horyn ‘weighed’ in on Vogue, alluding to its hefty poundage and giving its content rather ‘high’ marks, though most of the responses were not so generous to say the least. What I can be sure of is that both Bazaar and Vogue will be filled with more than their fair share of expensive eye candy.

Regardless of the fact that a wearable, intellectual and practical minimalism has resurfaced this season (which was the subject of Cathy Horyn’s front page column, "Who’s Afraid of Minimalism" in last Thursday’s Style section of The New York Times), the very nature of fashion (particularly as it pertains to fall…THE season of the year) is that it implies a serious amount of ‘eye candy’. Which is why it’s hardly surprising that ‘T’, The New York Times Style Magazine Women’s Fashion Fall 2007 supplement, which debuted this past weekend, was entitled, ‘Eye Candy’ and featured a cover shot of "Candy" star, Australian actress Abbie Cornish, taken by Raymond Meier.

I found the 316 page supplement to be not only well paced, highly visual and filled with serious eye candy (in the form of bold graphics, eye catching color, and of course, great shoes, bags, accessories, fashion), but it was entertaining and filled with assorted odds and ends of information. The editors managed to take a fresh approach to the same subjects being tackled by elsewhere and included an element of surprise….though it was not the inclusion of an article about Ralph Lauren.

At a time when fashion is celebrating a look that can best be described as very ‘Ralph Lauren’, it’s not ‘surprising’ that RL (in all his glory) has been the well deserved subject of several articles, including one in September Elle where he confessed that he’s "anti fashion" because as he put it, "fashion mean’s it’s new. Throw out your old stuff, get the new stuff. Everything you did before is dead." Bravo, Ralph…I couldn’t have said it any better. For ‘T’, Guy Trebay focused on the wildly successful icon within an article, "Captain America" which included some interesting quotes and admissions, and one pretty fabulous and unusual portrait taken by Kurt Markus (he is ‘devilishly’ smiling).

And there was mention of anti Semitism, (which is not necessarily ‘new’ since it’s been pointed out numerous times that the patrician world Ralph has so brilliantly created is a far cry from the humble Bronx neighborhood where he was born Ralph Lifschitz).

But at one point, Guy quoted writer Holly Brubach who noted in The Atlantic that Ralph has been "seen by some as a play actor, a Jew pretending to the life of the landed gentry" and he revealed that the late socialite C.Z. Guest once quipped to him that Ralph Lauren "probably owed her social-cohort royalties" (yikes!)
For his part, Ralph has never shied away from this subject and has always said he was inspired throughout his life by classic things, prep school people, and their clothes ("maybe because I didn’t have it, I always reached for it"). The bottom line is that nobody "owns" classic, well bred, and patrician and nobody but nobody does it better than Ralph, who has managed to create a major business AND a universe based on upper class life and customs.

In the meanwhile, at a time when so many companies are having business problems or shutting down, the designer has plenty to smile about. He was just bestowed the first ever title of Fashion Legend by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and he will be celebrating his 40th anniversary in high style (what else would you expect?) According to WWD, Ralph will stage his spring 2008 fashion show at the Central Park Conservancy (5th Avenue at 105th street) where he will be giving a "gift", after which he will host a black tie dinner for about 500 guests to mark the occasion. Thought I’d mention that Ralph and Ricky live just blocks away…..

By the way, as I stated recently, I am completely besotted with the Ralph Lauren Rugby Shop, 99 University Place, 212 677 1895. At a time when ‘un-basic’ basics could not look better or seem more relevant, this is THE perfect place to find them. From impeccably tailored hacking jackets, schoolboy crested or non crested blazers (you can also buy crests and emblems to sew on and instantly create a ‘look’), oxford shirts (some trimmed with men’s tie fabric), wonderful sporty polos, jodhpurs, distinctive knitwear, scarves, and more, it’s all very well priced (from approximately $5 for an emblem to $750 for a man’s suit). And I can’t leave out the attentive, knowledgeable, AND fabulous looking salespeople, (right out of central casting).

And speaking of prices and fashion…I got a kick out of the article in ‘T’, "New Balance" which came with the observation, "Saving isn’t as much fun as spending, true. But once you get into the habit, what you might blow on your closet could end up netting a much prettier penny down the line".

They elicited investment advisor Andrew Fleming to pick a portfolio of fashionable alternatives "so you don’t wind up the best dressed person in the shelter". Could I possibly be the only one who noticed that on the facing page, was Tiger Wood’s ad for Tag Heuer ("What are you made of"?) Is there any person on the planet who need not be concerned with the price of luxurious items and doesn’t have to be overly concerned with saving versus spending? Quite frankly, I think the editors should have ended the magazine with this sobering column. It certainly has made me think a bit before taking that credit card out!

-Marilyn Kirschner

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