Renowned photographer Roxanne Lowit has been chronicling the fashion scene for the past 30 years; early on she staked out the backstage areas at fashion shows, where the really interesting action takes place, as her prime hunting ground for capturing the most beautiful people in their natural habitat. Now Lowit, whose work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum and others, has an incredible new book just published by teNeues, focusing on brilliant, flamboyant Dior deigner John Galliano's couture concoctions which she chronicled for over a decade. Backstage Dior, with a foreword by Galliano, mixes black-and-white and color images, candids and close-ups, delving into the fascinating details behind the scenes. The book is a must for any devotée of fashion, spectacle, photography, or all three.
Filed under: The Fashion Statement
I was at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, last week soaking it all in. This was the site where the sultans displayed decapitated heads on stakes to discourage bad behavior among their subjects. Probably the most famous of these heads was Dracula's (Vlad, the Impaler) which had been preserved in honey. Not a bad piece of ghoulish history to come across to get in the spirit of Halloween.
Probably the closest thing you can get to horror in the fashion world is goth. At its worst, goth is all about death, rot and decay. At its best, goth is erotic even a romantic period style of dress. Typically, goth is all about dark colors-blacked out eyes, whitened skin, black hair and a plethora of body piercings.
Most people think goth fashion came out the post punk scene that rose up out of the United Kingdom in the '80s. In fact, goth origins are ancient and appears to be the result of a combination of influences from random events that occurred over the centuries.
One of the best books I've ever come across on the subject is Gothic: Dark Glamour by Valerie Steele. The stunning coffee table book, first published a year ago, traces goth from its Eastern Germanic tribal roots to modern-day black-clad teenagers and sexually-charged vampire fiction.
Steele, chief curator at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, takes the magnifying glass to haute goth as seen through the eyes of designers John Galliano, Rick Owens and Alexander McQueen. It's a fascinating, visual journey through the aesthetics of the macabre.
Some of you might recall, the original Goths were warmongers who tried to take down the Roman Empire in Istanbul, thousands of years before Dracula lost his head to the sultans. I find it particularly interesting that today's goths have nominated Dracula as their token villain. At least at Topkapi Palace, there's a connection. A column commemorates the Roman victory over the Goths.
In fashion, goth is still one of the most effective ways to communicate rebellion and subculture. It's shocking. Unsettling. The fashion equivalent of a good scare on Halloween. Just the kind of buttons, designers like to push. Take London designer Gareth Pugh's spring 2010 collection, pictured above.
Heels often turn heads but not like this. French actress Marion Cotillard caused a stir with her unique Dior shoes at the Bike in Style challenge in New York City this week. The strappy shoes were designed by John Galliano and the heel is in the shape of a fertility goddess. Cotillard paired the shoes with an understated suit. The shoes first hit the runway last fall as part of John Galliano's Dior spring/summer 2009 'Tribal Chic' collection.
Filed under: Apparel
I thought Armani Prive's Paris show was extravagant but that was before I beheld the flounces, ruffles and crinolines of John Galliano's latest collection for Dior. The eccentric designer took his fashion cue from the paintings of Vermeer and other Dutch masters offering up a collection that included bib-like lace collars, puffy sleeves you could hide a small dog in and cinched-in waistlines set against belled out skirts.The spring-summer collection was meant to be "More Dior than Dior" taking Christian Dior's original neat suits from the 1940s and riffing on them as only Galliano can.
The collection flies so completely in the face of what the IHT's Suzy Menkes calls "austerity chic" that it's hard not to be charmed. As she puts it " in straitened circumstances, was it mad? Yes, but it was magic." While elaborate couture shows are becoming more of a rarity, this collection and the one from Armani show the type of flamboyant showmanship that may not be in step with the times but is still a wonder to behold.
Gallery: More Dior Than Dior
Filed under: Cosmetics and Fragrance
Galliano was involved with every step of the scent's development. Its outer box is designed to look like a collage or a book, reminiscent of travel tomes he makes following fact-finding voyages undertaken before creating fashion collections. The bottle's neck was inspired by collars appearing in Galliano's first fashion collection, Les Incroyables, and the flacon is topped with a Gothic G. Model Guinevere Van Seenus is the face on the box.
Galliano, who also is the couturier at Christian Dior, had thoughts of flowers, particularly of rose, peony, iris with its powdery side, and violet. The scent will be launched at the end of September in the U.K., through an exclusive with Harrods, and in Germany. On October 11, it is to be introduced in France, exclusively at Sephora, and then a few days later in Switzerland. The launch in the rest of the world will take place in 2009.
Prices vary: 90-ml. eau de parfum spray, 100 euros, or $158; 60-ml. edp spray, 80 euros, or $126; 40-ml. edp spray, 60 euros, or $95; 200-ml. body milk for 38 euros, or $60; and a 200-ml. shower gel, 33 euros, or $52, will be available at launch. A 150-ml. body scrub, 39 euros, or $62, will come out after the initial fragrance introduction.
In 1962, Esquire magazine sent photographer Jerry Schatzberg to Paris to cover the behind-the-scenes action at the Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent shows, at what promised to be an historic fashion moment. Indeed it was, and Schatzberg's shoot turned out brilliantly; the full results have finally been collected in book form, under the title Paris 1962: Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior, The Early Collections. Schatzberg was no mere paparazzo; a renowned fashion photographer and filmmaker, he's perhaps best known for the cover of Bob Dylan's 1966 album Blonde on Blonde. His journalistic, documentary style ran counter to the usual carefully-posed fashion shoots of the time, which gave the 1962 session added urgency. But first, a little background.
Famed designer Christian Dior had died five years earlier, in 1957. Yves Saint Laurent, only 22 years old at the time, had been named as his replacement, creating a stunning new collection in a matter of weeks. Laurent held the appointment for only a short time, however, as he was soon conscripted to serve in the French army during the Algerian War of Independence. The fragile fashionista lasted less than a month before a nervous breakdown saw him committed to a mental institution. Meanwhile, Marc Bohan had taken over at Dior, leading Saint Laurent to file for breach of contract.
Gallery: Dior & YSL, Then and Now