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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"La Déca Danse", a Mario Testino-Carine Roitfeld collaboration in the May 2010 issue of Paris Vogue to celebrate the anniversary of the Serge Gainsbourg-Jane Birkin La Décadanse song, is one of my favourite fashion shoots.

Likely inspired by a 1978 Helmut Newton photo of the couple, the editorial features Daria Werbowy and Francesco Vezzoli. It earned me a massive dressing down in the Tube one afternoon by a woman who told me I should really be ashamed to read such literature in public transports. With Carine Roitfeld, you read Vogue and people thought it was Playboy.

Posted at 8:04am and tagged with: Vogue, carine roitfeld, photography, editorial,.

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,.

Tous les matins, en me regardant dans la glace, je me demande si je suis une femme Yves Saint Laurent.

Every morning, facing the mirror, I wonder: am I an Yves Saint Laurent woman?

Carine Roitfeld, Le Figaro, October 2011 (translation my own)

I believe in the Yves Saint Laurent woman who either has her hands in the pockets of her pantsuit or is holding her lover’s hand. She doesn’t need a bag.

Carine Roitfeld, Der Spiegel, July 2011

Posted at 10:00am and tagged with: Quote on a Monday, Style Icons, carine roitfeld, yves saint laurent, handbag,.

It took me a long time to graduate to Paris Vogue. I was raised on weekly doses of French ELLE but Vogue, particularly during the Baron-Roitfeld collaboration, wasn’t the style de la maison, house style.

The first Paris Vogue I read was nearly by accident. It was the Summer 2001 issue, I was 15, in a small Air France plane flying from Toulouse to Clermont Ferrand. When I boarded the plane, the flight attendant offered us some free magazine. She initially suggested Phosphore, a teen-only mag, I asked for Vogue, which looked enticing, glamourous and so much more grown-up than ELLE. I remember neither the cover, nor the content.

The second Paris Vogue I read and the first one I consciously bought was some time between October 2004 and April 2005. Again, the occasion was a long journey, this time the 4hours+ train drive between Lyon and Nevers I regularly did while in higher education in France. Again, I don’t remember the cover but I remember articles on Stefano Pilati, Agent Provocateur and a photoshoot centred on a tennis court which my mother found “vulgar and unnecessarily sexual”.

Some time went by, I moved to London and didn’t buy a single other Paris Vogue until the 2007/2008 festive issue with Charlotte Gainsbourg at the realm and on the cover. This was the first time I bought the magazine and somewhat got the feeling, page after page, that I understood what it was about, what the fashion meant and what the editorials said. I’ve bought every single issue since (and a few back issues on Ebay). I remember reading it in the Eurostar, in a Paris café with my sister (while waiting for the Eurostar), as a pre-exam procrastination, on a Sunday morning over porridge and chai tea… If ELLE was my fashion high school, a madeleine de Proust which I remember fondly and always come back to, Carine’s Vogue has been my fashion education, a teacher which equally shaped and challenged my knowledge and vision of fashion. I can’t wait for the next chapter, both for her and Vogue.

Pictures: Jak & Jil, Briana Rene, Oh no they didn’t

Posted at 8:32pm and tagged with: Vogue, carine roitfeld, gainsbourg,.

Two years apart, Carine Roitfeld and Anne-Marie Curtis styled so-called wardrobe staples (LBD, trench coat, smoking suit etc) for Vogue Paris and ELLE UK. Each editorial marked a special fashion occasion: Roitfeld’s was for the 20th anniversary of Maison Martin Margiela, Curtis’ for ELLE's 25th birthday.

The Trench: Burberry London vs Burberry Prorsum

The white shirt: Yves Saint Laurent Homme vs Giorgio Armani

The handbag: Chanel vs Hermès

The court: Giuseppe Zanotti and Brian Atwood vs Manolo Blahnik

Vogue Paris Scans from Les scans de Diorette; ELLE scans from FashionGoneRogue

Le Culte de l’Impersonnalité

Vogue Paris October 2008

Photographs Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin

Styling Carine Roitfeld

The Word Girl

ELLE UK October 2010

Photograph David Vasiljevic

Styling Anne-Marie Curtis

Posted at 8:30am and tagged with: Vogue, elle uk, carine roitfeld, editorial,.

Last week, Carine Roitfeld, editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue, announced to Women’s Wear Daily she had been blacklisted from the autumn 10 Balenciaga catwalk.

“We’re blacklisted,” Roitfeld said with a shrug at Nina Ricci later in the day. “It’s too bad, it’s a beautiful house and it’s French. I hope that it’s not forever.”

Blacklisting in fashion is nothing new. It is the easiest way for fashion houses to make their power felt. Cathy Horyn has been banned from Giorgio Armani, Anna Wintour from Yves Saint Laurent.

Unless there is a really good reason behind it (and I don’t consider a bad review or too few pieces shown in an editorial a good reason), it makes the fashion house sound like a spoilt kid throwing a tantrum because he didn’t get his lollipop. With a few more millions at stake, of course.

In the case of Balenciaga, Roitfeld handled the situation rather well. For a start, she could be pretty sure the entire reporting side of the industry, including blogs, would support her. Everyone supposed the blacklisting had to do with something Vogue did and Balenciaga didn’t like, and journalists are rather touchy when it comes to freedom of speech.

Secondly, rather than deciding to give Ghesquière an eye for an eye, covered the show, proving that in the era of agency pictures, fronts rows matter less and less and brands are more helpless than ever in controlling who reviews them. Fabrice Paineau signed a rather positive review, slightly tempered by his constant misspelling of the designer’s name:

Les fondamentaux Gesquière. Voilà à peu près la direction souterraine de ce défilé. C’est quoi une femme Balenciaga ? Un lego humain, une créature mécanique fait de rouages qui s’emboîtent les uns avec les autres où chaque couture s’apparente à des charnières, chaque couleur à une signalétique propre. Mais il y est toujours question de futurisme chez Balenciaga même  si la collection questionne cette fois-ci le mouvement Futuriste  en lui-même. Les impressions journaux qui se découvrent sur le corps évoquent presque les manifestes de Giacomo Balla. Gesquière parle d’une mode éprise de vitesse, un vestiaire qui supplanterait les autres par la rapidité de sa pensée, de ses propositions. Tout va très vite. Les chaussures mocassins qui n’en sont plus, des pantalons qui s’ouvrent comme des corolles. Tout à l’apparence d’un vêtement mais derrière l’édifice tout est plus complexe. Nicolas Gesquière parle de vêtement comme de concept et mélange sans complexe recherche avec portabilité. L’allure sportive se voit transportée dans une galaxie plus glacée quoique réchauffée de coups de couleurs pastels. Les matières et leurs assemblages s’apparentent au travail d’une banquette de voiture. Gesquière,  c’est du Ballard tombé dans une fabrique chiffons à haute valeur technologique. Crash Experimental !

Balenciaga’s decision not to comment on the situation (“A Balenciaga spokesman declined comment.”) might have avoided unnecessary escalation. However, it prompted Internet speculations: was it a rift with Marie-Amélie Sauvé? a breaking down of a Balenciaga look in an editorial? or Vogue's strong focus on Balmain?

Who is losing, besides the Vogue advertising department? Undoubtedly the Vogue reader, who hasn’t seen a single piece of Balenciaga clothing in editorials for months. Will it have any repercussion on the Balenciaga sales, or on the sales of Paris Vogue? Highly unlikely.

The good point? The Vogue and Balenciaga names have never been more associated. Balenciaga is getting a lot of free articles and blog posts, with pictures from its latest catwalk as illustration. And when Balenciaga will lift the ban (because let’s face it they will have to or be at risk of sounding bitter) everyone will rejoice. Be a prince Nicolas, passez l’éponge!


Mlle. L.

Posted at 6:27am and tagged with: brand communication, Vogue, Carine Roitfeld, Balenciaga,.