It's OK for intellectual feminists to like fashion

Blog title from Hadley Freeman's book The Meaning of Sunglasses : "Prada styles itself as the label it's OK for intellectual feminists to like".

The author is a bilingual fashion editor, writer and translator with a serious blog, cinema and magazine habit.

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Remember, back in 2007, when Gisele Bündchen demanded to be paid in Euros? At the time, Bloomberg reported that she “insisted that she be paid in almost any currency but the U.S. dollar”, likening her decision to that of many hedge funds. Her sister justified the move, explaining “contracts starting now are more attractive in euros because we don’t know what will happen to the dollar”. Her Pantene/Procter & Gamble Co. and Dolce & Gabbana contracts, two of her biggest at the time, were reportedly paid in Euros. I bet she’s changed her tune to pose on the cover of the July/August 2012 issue of Paris Vogue.

Posted at 8:54pm and tagged with: model life, European Union, Vogue Paris,.

From Hillary Clinton to Michelle Obama, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing American First Ladies pose for US Vogue. No French President spouse however has ever graced the cover of the Paris edition of the magazine, while her husband held the job. Could Valérie Trierweiler, President-elect François Hollande’s partner, be the first to do so?

The First Lady/Partner/Girlfriend status in France is a grey area. The term doesn’t even exist in French, beyond the Première Dame translation coined from the American. Even though presidential spouses under the Fifth Republic have traditionally overseen charities and Elysée entertaining in a similar manner to their American counterparts, they don’t have any official standing à la East Wing. Nothing stops them from working, even though Trierweiler’s plan to keep her job as a journalist has already been questioned. Bernadette Chirac had an easier time with it, since she was a local elected official. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy released a single album while at the Elysée.

Until Nicolas Sarkozy’s election, French presidential spouses were women who, by their philosophy, age and fashion sense, didn’t often fit with the Vogue cover standards. Cécilia Attias could have been a strong contender, but she left too early, awarding her first interview and cover, post-divorce, to ELLE. Bruni-Sarkozy also bagged a few ELLE covers, mostly through stock pictures, and a Vanity Fair one. But no ParisVogue. ELLE France is perceived as a more intellectual, committed magazine than Vogue. Whether or not the offer was ever on the table, Bruni-Sarkozy was too aware of the luxury lifestyle raised against her husband to consider it.

The non-existant political stance of French Vogue could also explain its lack of First Lady coverdom. You couldn’t imagine Emmanuelle Alt, or Carine Roitfeld before her, fundraise for any candidate the way Anna Wintour did for Barack Obama. Whereas the American fashion industry has widely embraced the Democrat candidate, the French fashion industry is keeping mum on the subject, leaving fashion to fashion and politics to politics.

In The Obamas, a Mission, a Marriage, Jodi Kantor recounts White House staff worrying at how a Vogue cover, with its frivolity and luxury subtext, would be perceived by American Joe and Jane. Hollande campaigned on being a normal President, in contrast with Sarkozy’s perceived luxury lifestyle, and Trierweiler grounded him throughout her interviews with anecdotes of his shopping at the local supermarket. This doesn’t make her an ideal candidate for a Vogue cover. Yet her husband also campaigned on the importance of France factories and jobs and fashion represents a significant part of the country’s economy and heritage

So yes, Trierweiler should do a Vogue cover, but she should do it on her own terms. Just like Obama partly agreed to Vogue “because so few black women appeared on the covers of the major fashion magazines” (1) she should do it because we have been deprived of an ambitious career woman at the Elysee for a while, of a woman who succeeded because of her skills and craft and refused to live in the shadow of her husband. She should do it in her usual “trench-coat or blazer, simple shirt, ample trousers and small heels […] accessorized by a Gérard Darel handbag and a colorful silk scarf”, in high-street if she feels like it. Female role models are everywhere, if you can be bothered to look, but being on the cover of Vogue would make it that bit easier for girls everywhere to see, and to remember smarts can get you far.

(1) Kantor, Jodi The Obamas, a Mission, a Marriage (London, 2012) p.91

Posted at 5:50am and tagged with: france, politics, Vogue, Vogue Paris, Anna Wintour,.

1 - McQ and Stella McCartney coming back to London Fashion Week

Since Burberry made the move back and under Harold Tilman stewardship, London Fashion Week (LFW) has been gathering momentum. All major fashion editors now attend LFW, rather than hoping from New York to Milan, even though recent scheduling problems might have something to say to that. Showing in London will be a comeback to their roots for both the Alexander McQueen diffusion brand McQ and Olympic team tailor Stella McCartney. Both brands have a strong British identity and Britishness has become a marketing USP. With even Kanye West rumoured to join the capital, cool Britannia is regaining its pedigree. Will Alexander McQueen be next to join?

2 - A new designer at Dior and John Galliano’s future

The 2011 fashion year started with a bang with Galliano’s dismissal and ensuing conspiracy theories. Rumours after rumours have given everyone from Marc Jacobs to Raf Simons at Dior, to the extent not being named as a potential designer was a bad sign of your credential in the business. Is the job cursed? Is the house enjoying seeing its name pop up on social platforms too much to make a decision? Can Dior release another collection without proper artistic direction? Could Franca Sozzani get her wish of seeing Galliano reinstated? Is Sidney Toledano making a conscious decision to mark the end of the designer superstar?

As for Galliano, the moment backers decide he is once again a sound investment, I have little doubt he’ll find a new designer position. The industry is already being nice to him, his Internet ranking is on the rise and memory fades at the prospect of money.

3 - The Arab spring going into its second year

I spent some of the best days of my life in Cairo three summers ago. The city was nothing I’d experienced before. I’d been warned about the smell and the noise and that I would hate it but I ended up loving it because of its smell and noise and because it had an identity of its own, so different from all the European cities I was used to. Back at the LSE, I took a course on Nasser and Arab Nationalism which turned out to be the best of my third year. Watching a country fight for its future is very different if you’ve been there and if you know its history than if TV is your only link with it.

On a fashion-related note - the textile industry represents a significant part of the Egyptian GDP, not just as Egyptian cotton but also as clothing factories. The ongoing unrest, the lack of democratic resolution despite the elections and the role of the military and Muslim Brotherhood could mean rising prices on the long term, especially in the UK, the main European Union market for Egyptian apparel and home textiles.

4 - Presidential elections in France and the USA

April and November will be key electoral months in France and the United-States with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama running for reelection. Will France go against the European trend and elect François Hollande, the left candidate everyone dismissed as a joke two years ago? Will Obama’s West Wing-reminiscent administration loose the White House to the Tea Party? Even though the Carla/Michelle effect doesn’t translate in sales as well as the Kate effect, I hope any first lady taking over would have as much fashion taste. As for the fashion repercussions of new elections, they are more likely to be found on price tags following tax choices than in terms of policies. Despite fashion’s importance in the economy, the current economic situation puts us years away from making the craft a priority.

5 - The Artist released in UK cinemas

If you grew up in France in the 1990s, you might take the buzz surrounding The Artist and Jean Dujardin’s mute performance with a pinch of disbelief. Jean Dujardin will forever be Loulou, of 1 gars 1 fille, a long-lived, short-format sitcom about the triviality of a couple’s daily life. Seeing a full page dedicated to Dujardin in US Vogue is somewhat surprising, the possibility of his Oscar nomination difficult to fathom. Not that his acting doesn’t deserve it but because no one would have predicted him this kind of career. Jean Dujardin is the French George Clooney, from ER to The Ides of March.

6 - Another royal year

An exhibition dedicated to the Queen’s portraits at the Victoria & Albert Museum! New Diana, Princess of Wales dresses on display at Kensington Palace! The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations! Many new Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge outfits! The Royals on display for a month of Olympic joy! Another four day bank holiday weekend!

Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton, A Diamond Jubilee Celebration; at the Victoria & Albert Museum 8 February - 22 April

7 - Aaron Sorkin back on TV with The Newsroom

I loved him in The West Wing, loved him in The Social Network, loved him in A Few Good Men. A year after his Oscar win, Aaron Sorkin is back on TV with The Newsroom, scheduled for broadcast on HBO. Although the topic might be closer to Studio 60 than The West Wing for comfort, I expect dialogues between Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer delivered “while walking rapidly through a work place”* and Dev Patel as the “lone, down-to-Earth black man who brings calming wisdom to neurotic white people”*. Alison Pill could make a great “cute conservative blond woman who exists in a mostly liberal world but everyone ends up loving anyway”* while Daniels will likely keep the role of the “emotionally stunted male lead who is bad with relationships”* for himself.

*All quotes from “4 Things Aaron Sorkin Puts In Every Show”. And yes, I do know Dev Patel isn’t black.

8 - Sherlock and Mad Men back on TV

Contract negotiations meant we were deprived of Mad Men in 2011, while Sherlock's broadcast was pushed back to 1 January 2012. Will AMC and the BBC see a drop or a surge in ratings as a result? Can Don and Betty marriages last? Will Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat go the pop culture way and turn Irene Adler into Sherlock’s only love? Should we expect Holmesian influences and 1960s revival in the autumn/winter menswear and womenswear shows this winter?

9 - Marc Jacobs - Louis Vuitton and Van Cleef & Arpels at Les Arts Décoratifs

Marc Jacobs will open the fashion season at Les Arts Déco in March, followed in September by jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels. Described as “an analysis rather than a retrospective”, the Jacobs/Vuitton exhibition will show how both men influenced fashion and accessories at the end of the 19th and in the early 21st century. Drawing a parallel between the two designers is a new curation angle which should add to the fashion house’s myth and to the ongoing heritage trend. The Van Cleef exhibition should be more traditional with over 400 of the jeweller’s best work on display.

Marcs Jacobs - Louis Vuitton, 9 March - 16 September; Van Cleef & Arpels, 20 September - 10 February 2013, Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris

10 - Carine Roitfeld

Having christened her 2011 liberty by styling the Chanel campaign, posing on the cover of i-D magazine, featuring with her children in the Barneys window displays and releasing instant best-seller Irreverent, Roitfeld should know an exciting second year post Vogue Paris editorship. We know little of her projects for the year, except she will become a grandmother and launch a magazine, and it’s just as well since part of her 2011 appeal was her capacity to rebound and surprise us.

11 - Google’s iPad killer

Fashion brands and magazines have just started embracing Apple’s iPad tablet with platform-specific sites, dedicated apps and targeted subscriptions. Will they be able to carry their strategy and technology over to the Google iPad killer, announced by the company’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt? Google + was slow to release brand-specific pages but fashion brands were amongst the first to publish pages. Will the company follow a similar process, brand-wise, for the new tablet? Will the public be quick at buying the new gadget or shy away from yet another Google item in their life?

12 - Another year of Ryan Gosling

With Crazy, Stupid Love, Drive and The Ides of March, Ryan Gosling managed to be in three of the best films of 2011, in three very different categories. Will 2012 be the year of his first Oscar win? If his two Golden Globes nominations for best actor, drama and best actor, comedy are anything to go by, a nomination should at least be locked. This should be enough to keep everyone waiting for 2013 and his three new film Lawless, The Gangster Squad and The Place Beyond the Pines. Yes, I’m a fan and yes, I struggled to find a 12th reason to look forward to 2012. Not sure I’ll do Thirteen reasons to look forward to 2013 next year.

Pictures: London Fashion Week Begins At Somerset House, Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe; Dior petites mains,; The pyramids in Giza, © Fashion Abecedaire; French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Senator Barack Obama, Jae C. Hong/Associated Press on the New York Times website; The Artist, publicity shot; The Newsroom, HBO Watch trailer screenshot; Princess Elizabeth, Cecil Beaton, Gelatin silver print, Buckingham Palace, March 1945, Museum no. E.1361-2010; Sherlock Series 2, BBC publicity shot; Spring/Summer 2008 womenswear show bags from the Toile Monogram Jokes line created by Richard Prince, © Louis Vuitton / Chris Moore; The 9 Lives of Carine Roitfeld, New York Times website; Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on the set of Gangster Squad

Posted at 5:56pm and tagged with: Classy film, TV series, The West Wing, Vogue Paris, carine roitfeld, politics, technology, Sherlock, Mad Men, dior, john galliano, Alexander McQueen, London Fashion Week, Royal Family, cambridge, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, 2012 Olympics, Egypt, france,.

The Grimaldi/Casiraghi/Vogue story is a long-standing one. Grace Kelly who, long after she left Hollywood for the Mediterranean shores of her royaume d’opérette, still fascinated the Americans, graced the cover of Vogue both sides of the Atlantic a few times. Eldest daughter Caroline then took over, with a predilection for Paris Vogue and an Andy Warhol painting for Christmas 1983 which can only be described as iconic. It took longer to Stephanie to join the fold, but Carine Roitfeld did the honours with the Christmas 2008 magazine edited by the princess in the 1980s vibe raving on the catwalks at the time. Fast forward two years and it’s only fitting that, for her first Monaco cover, Emmanuelle Alt chose the new generation of Monaco royals with Charlotte and an editorial heavily accented by her partnership with Gucci.

So what does this family album tell us about the evolution of Vogue? Fourty years separate them, but Charlotte’s pictures are as sage as Grace’s. With the exception of Caroline’s Warhol cover and Stephanie’s leather-clad photos, there is no real reinvention of what being a princess means. Apparently, in the 1970s like nowadays, it’s all about beautiful dresses and expensive jewellery. Vogue, for all its sexual bravado, isn’t about to break the Cinderella myth.

Grace by Richard Avedon, US Vogue, Christmas 1971

Grace, UK Vogue, March 1972

Caroline by Norman Parkinson, feature by Roger Peyrefitte, Paris Vogue, October 1977

Caroline par Sir Cecil Beaton (?), Paris Vogue, March 1979

Caroline by Andy Warhol, Paris Vogue, Christmas 1983

Caroline, Paris Vogue, Summer 1988

Stéphanie by Mert & Marcus, Paris Vogue, Christmas 2008

Stéphanie by Mario Testino, Paris Vogue, Christmas 2008

Charlotte by Mario Testino, Paris Vogue, September 2011

Charlene by Patrick Demarchelier, US Vogue, July 2011

Posted at 10:00am and tagged with: Vogue, Vogue Paris, magazine history, photography, Monaco,.

Paris Vogue isn’t exactly known as a hub of hard-hitting, objective journalism free from advertiser pressures. One section which never fails me to impress for its frankness, however, is the double-page spread on film reviews.

Written, month in, month out, by Yann Gonzalez and Jean-Sébastien Chauvin, those pages stand out thanks to their emphasis on words and their writers’ wit. Whereas cinema critics often self-restrict to summarising a movie and throwing in a few pseudo-cultured references, Gonzalez and Chauvin advise their readers. If they dislike a film, you’ll know from the first line. Despite their target public, they never write at length about wardrobe, focusing instead on the writing, the acting and the directing.

As an example, Gonzalez’s verdict on Water for Elephants:

Faced with this thin love story between a young vet and a circus girl, even the wild beasts are bellowing with boredom while the two stars shine by their haircut - a Jean Harlow-worthy blondness for Reese Witherspoon and sexy hair cream for Robert Pattinson.

Gonzalez and Chauvin’s reviews are often harsh, but I have come to trust them. Theirs are the first words I read in the magazine each month, long before the editor’s foreword.

Vogue Paris, May 2011 - Translation my own.

Posted at 7:16pm and tagged with: magazine writing, Vogue Paris, cinema,.

Paris Hilton, famous for being famous, is on the Terry Richardson-shot cover of this month’s issue of Turkish Vogue. Back in November 2006, Hilton was Vogue Paris cover girl for their beauty issue. According to an interview Carine Roitfeld did at the time with French TV show La Blonde et Moi, the issue sold very well.

Vogue Turkey picture: Tarsha at The Fashion Spot.

Posted at 8:55am and tagged with: Vogue, Vogue Paris,.

1 - Mr Porter

Natalie Massenet & Richemont’s latest online venture launches early this year. Seeing how tuned Massenet is to her customers, I’m sure the store will stock enough small sizes to allow women to shop and wear menswear too.

Mr Porter

2 - Chanel launches its online store

Chanel should launch its first transactional website this year. How is the French luxury brand going to translate its black and white minimalism and giant lion catwalk eccentricities on a digital platform?

3 - More luxury brands and magazine apps on the iPad/iPhone
The next logical step in the fashion industry taming the online world: brands and magazine will launch transactional, interactive apps on the Apple store, following again, Massenet’s lead. Expect pop up apps for one-off collections as well as stronger links between printed magazines and their online alter egos. I also see luxury brands including QR codes in their clothes labels so that customers can see how garments are made - playing the heritage and skills card on smart phones.

In 2011, fashion brands will keep embracing social media - or reject them altogether. The time for middle ground is gone.

4 - Black Swan

Rodarte costumes, Vincent Cassel as the ballet director and Natalie Portman as Odette. Not to mention actual ballet scenes on the big screen.

UK release announced for 21 January 2011

5 - YSL, l’Amour Fou

A feature-long documentary on Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, the making of their fashion house and their private and professional partnership. If you’re as fascinated by Saint Laurent as I am, it is a must-see.

L’amour Fou is rumoured to be released in the UK this year.

6 - Sherlock, season II and the Untitled Sherlock Holmes Sequel by Guy Ritchie

Neither is technically fashion-related but both the first series and first film had a strong wardrobe department, be it Millford coat and Spencer Hart suits or modern spin on Victorian menswear. Add to that beautiful cinematography and strong acting.

Sherlock season II is announced on the BBC for the summer

Untitled Sherlock Holmes Sequel released 16 December 2011

7 - Indutrie magazine, Monocle

Print isn’t dead - it is just changing. The launch of Monocle, Industrie and other The Gentlewoman over the past few years showed there is a market for high end, specialised magazines with more brain than gloss.

8 - A new direction for Paris Vogue

Although it is hard at the moment to imagine who is going to take over from Carine Roitfeld, and which direction s/he will take the magazine in, I hope to see amazing editorials alongside well-researched and well-written articles. On my list of favourites for the job, mostly men: Loic Prigent, Olivier Lalanne…

The new rédacteur en chef should be announced at the beginning of the year

9 - Yohji Yamamoto at the V&A

After Margiela at Somerset House, the V&A fashion department tackles another fashion pioneer. Yamamoto’s menswear will be displayed alongside womenswear for the first time. Let’s hope the exhibition isn’t as big a let down as the Grace Kelly one.

12 March 2011 - 10 July 2011

10 - L’art de l’automobile: An exhibition of Ralph Lauren’s cars at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris

Beautiful cars +  Ralph Lauren, what more can I say? Of course, I would be even happier if there were Ralph Lauren garments on display, but I’ll settle for some Ferraris, Jaguars and Bugattis.

28 April 2011 - 28 August 2011

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

11 - The Burma Conspiracy

Largo Winch was my favourite graphic novel growing up, the one which taught me all about hostile takeovers and share prices. Jérôme Salle’s first Winch film was worthy of the original character. In this one, he cast Sharon Stone as an international lawyer accusing Largo of crime against humanity, most likely to get the W group share price down.

Largo Winch 2 is out in France 16 February 2011 

Pictures: Screencap of Mr Porter; Chanel store from Popsop; Black Swan from Blogspot; Yves Saint Laurent from Screen Daily; Sherlock Holmes from Screen Crave; Yamamoto from the V&A; Ralph Lauren from Vanity Fair

Posted at 6:37am and tagged with: Classy film, Sherlock, Vogue Paris, chanel, exhibition, magazines, online shopping, ysl, yves saint laurent, cinema,.

Best Wishes for 2011, Meilleurs Voeux pour 2011

Nuits Fauves, Paris Vogue August 2008 - Photograph Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Stylist Emmanuelle Alt, Model Kate Moss

Noctambule, Paris Vogue May 2007 - Photograph Terry Richardson, Stylist Emmanuelle Alt, Model Daria Werbowy

Put on a Happy Face, Paris Vogue September 2009 - Photograph Bruce Weber, Stylist Carine Roitfeld

Happily Ever After, US Vogue November 2010 - Photograph Mario Testino, Stylist Tonne Goodman, Model Anne Hathaway

Posted at 7:57pm and tagged with: Kate Moss, Vogue, Vogue Paris, editorial,.