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The 87th Academy Awards was a night of pearls, embellishments, simple high ponies, lots of red, strapless downward turned necklines, and statement necklaces.

THE HITS:

LUPITA NYONGO, custom Calvin Klein Collection

FAITH HILL, J. Mendel

DAKOTA JOHNSON, St. Laurent

MARGOT ROBBIE, St. Laurent

JENNIFER ANNISTON, Versace

ROSAMUND PIKE, Givenchy

ZOE SALDANA, Atelier Versace

SIENNA MILLER, Oscar de la Renta

REESE WITHERSPOON, Tom Ford

JENNIFER LOPEZ, Ellie Saab

THE MISSES:

FELICITY JONES, Alexander McQueen

NAOMI WATTS, Armani Privé

JULIANNE MOORE, custom Chanel

KERRY WASHINGTON, Miu Miu

VIOLA DAVIS, Zac Posen

GWYNETH PALTROW, Ralph & Russo

JESSICA CHASTAIN, Givenchy

NICOLE KIDMAN, Louis Vuitton

EMMA STONE, Ellie Saab

SCARLETT JOHANSEN, Versace

Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie

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Alexander McQueen Neoprene dress

When you think of the synthetic rubber-like substance Neoprene – developed by chemical giant DuPont – you likely conjure up things like laptop sleeves, knee braces or electrical insulation. But not any more – the form fitting fiber is now the fabric of choice for some high-end designers including Clover Canyon, Ted Baker and Alexander McQueen. And here’s the deal, it’s much more forgiving than you might think. I know – when you grab hold of it while the dress is on the rack, you are thinking, “No way – I’m not wearing a wetsuit to a cocktail party.” But the truth is the thickness of the fabric smooths and conceals a multitude of body sins – it’s almost like pulling on a full body “Spanx” but much more comfortable.

Ted Baker London ‘Jungle Orchid’ print

Clover Canyon – a Los Angeles based company – first burst onto the scene in 2011 with its bold Neoprene shift dresses that look like paintings. The line first started showing up in niche boutiques around New England more than a year ago but now it’s mainstream and can be found almost anywhere including Saks, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus. In fact the problem with Clover Canyon is that its designs are too recognizable and the dresses have become common to the point where you might find yourself at that destination wedding next to a gal from Dallas wearing the same piece.

Now though, other designers are taking a crack at the synthetic rubber scene with more subtle designs. I wasn’t crazy about the Ted Baker pieces, but Alexander McQueen knocked it out of the park. Look at it this way, if you don’t like it, cut it up into round circles and give it to aspiring musicians, I understand Neoprene makes a great drum practice pad.

Chynna PopeThe Marilyn Riseman Symphony Fashion Series at Brasserie Jo is a weekly fashion show that is near and dear to my heart. Marilyn was a close friend of mine and always-even in her 80’s- had her pulse on what was hot and what was not. The series of 20 shows per season started as a way to lunch and view budding local designer collections, which has brought attention to some very talented individuals. This week I am turning the spotlight on Chynna Pope.

Chynna Pope has come a long way from her fledgling beginnings at the School of Fashion Design and interning under the hand of master Roger Hinds. On Friday September 16, 2015, she featured a capsule collection, which showed 26 looks-some of the old mixed in with the new. Chynna was proud to say that because of her time spent with Roger, her very first prototypes seamlessly blended with her current work.

Backstage the atmosphere was calm and serene, not the usual frantic of some of the shows I’ve attended and hosted myself. Probably a reflection of the cool cat attitude of Chynna herself. She held her hand up to her right temple and showed me the shaved side of her head, where Pini took to her scalp with a razor just days ago. As she finished her touch up by makeup artist extraordinaire Cole McNair, she told me that she had actually consented to it, so had no regrets whatsoever.

Cole described the look as on trend-pastel tones.  He used the daytime as inspiration for his makeup choice- daytime demeure. In collaboration with Chynna they decided to use pastel tones- lips nude pink (quiver), in a matte soft wash tint, blush a peachy shimmer (lovelust), and complexion illumination on the cheekbones to create a healthy glow and hydration to the skin-despite the unfriendly polar temps outside.

The girls ran back and forth from makeup to hair. Chynna enlisted master stylist Sameena Khan from Floyd’s Barbershop on Mass Ave. Sameena wanted to keep it fresh and show off the clothes by keeping the hair off of the face. She stayed on trend and did a messy, sexy, off the face look using a flat iron, teasing, twisting and body building sprays. Sounds like a workout for hair! Nonetheless, the finished product was impeccable. The models, most of whom were ice skaters, looked nothing like the pulled tight, shellacked buns you see at the Olympics, but rather serene angels with that messy, sexy swept up hair.


Chynna seemed to float around effortlessly, checking deets as her assistant asked various questions. She walked me through the collection as the models (3 ice skaters and 1 SFD student) shimmied into their first looks. The collection went from menswear inspired tuxedo shirts and pants for women-think wearing your boyfriend’s tuxedo home the morning after-to billowy, motor cross inspired gowns and kimono tops. I love fabric manipulation,” said Chynna, showing me the topstitching seen throughout her pieces. Though it is reminiscent of Catherine Maladrino, Pope stated that some of her influences were Jean Paul Gautier and the late Alexander McQueen. But more important to Chynna was the inspiration she derived from life events. Her topstitching motif was actually inspired by a motor cross race she attended in Ireland–The Scariest 500 Road Race. The riders were all wearing this leather structured topstiching, and it instantly spoke to her and ended up being the lead motif for her entire collection.

A black stitched top from Chynna’s capsule collection.

PHOTOS BY SHANNON HAWKINS

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Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain

Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Jess, over here, nailed it. Dressed in an Armani Privé gown, Christian Louboutin shoes and jewelry by Harry Winston, this Jessica Rabbit look-a-like is everything Hollywood glamour is about– grace and poise with flair. Now, if this was just a dress contest, it would probably land her on the borrow list but– my oh my– is that style execution or what, my friends?!

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Most bridge labels are lackluster, downmarket attempts at capitalizing on a brand’s recognition in the marketplace. McQ, the lower-priced label from Alexander McQueen, is anything but. One visit to the label’s tumblr and it’s clear: this line is every bit as artful as its much-pricier counterpart.

With the winter months fast-approaching, I’m in full advocating-for-heels-in-snow mode [for those who would inquire, I’ve moved my many pair of Beatle Boots to the front of my closet, all with two-inch lifts…].

First up, this McQ two-tone bootie. Sturdy heel, textured outsole and an incredible combination of black and rich brown polished calfskin. In short, it’s the kind of shoe wardrobe staple that can take you through the entire season.

GET IT HERE.

When I walked into Leslie Thornton’s solo show at Winkleman Gallery earlier this year, I could tell in the blink of an eye that this would be my favorite exhibition this trip through the Chelsea galleries.  Thorton’s exhibition, titled “Binocular”, showed a series of videos that had two circles within each frame.  The first circle played a real time video of an animal in the wild, the second, a kaleidoscope image of that video, where the frame was refracted and multiplied numerous times using a remapping algorithm.

These images immediately evoked the current trend in textile manufacturing, specifically, Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2010 RTW show.  The minute swishing back and forth of the fabric worked similar to Thornton’s video works, in that even the tiniest move of the animal caused the whole image to alter substantially.   McQueen’s extreme attention to detail ensured that his dresses would change dramatically with movement, and their cinematic and spectacle quality make it near impossible to wrench yours eyes away.

Both McQueen’s gorgeous dresses and the video work of Thornton show an interest in the natural and organic – an interest that is subsequently warped via technology.   That being said, Thornton’s show was over a year after McQueen’s, and was viewed through a completely distinct lens.  Where McQueen’s show instigated discussions surrounding horror and sci-fi films, global climate change and the impending end of the world, Thornton’s leaned more to the metaphysical side, provoking comparisons to Buddhist Mandalas, Rose windows, and other central core forms with spiritual associations.

My questions to consider are these: in a world where art is typically considered higher than fashion, what happens when it is clear that a trend in fashion has clearly inspired and stimulated the work of an artist?  The fracturing of an animal’s body in order to reinterpret the idea of an ‘animal print’ is one thing, but what can one say once this idea is put into an art historical context?  Is it imperative that these ideas are addressed in these two realms separately?

I feel that although these two forms of expression can clash on many levels, it is important that they exist in conversation with one another, for they frequently resonate and inform one another in intangible ways.  I appeal to you all to treat both with equal respect, for creativity’s outlets are numerous and should not be situated within any hierarchy.

 

We’ve waited, and it is here. No, we still have weeks to go before New York Fashion Week Spring 2012 and we must hold on yet one more day to see our local favorite, David Chum, wow Heidi Klum and friends on the season 9 premier of “Project Runway.” Sadly, I’m referring to the will of the great, late fashion designer Alexander McQueen…

  • £250,000 [$410,000] to each of his three sisters and two brothers
  • £50,000 pounds [$82,000] to each of his housekeepers, his godson, his nieces, and his nephews
  • £50,000 [$82,000] for the continual care of his dogs, Minter, Juice and Callum
  • £100,000 [$164,000] each to the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and the Blue Cross Animal Welfare Charity, two charities that provide care for abandoned animals
  • £100,000 [$164,000] each to the London Buddhist Center and the Terrence Higgins Trust, both of which promote sex education and sexual health.

The designer left the remainder (and majority) of his £16 million [$26 million] estate to his charity, Sarabande, named after his Spring/Summer 2007 collection best remembered for look number 46: an English country garden-style dress made entirely of fresh flowers. He requested that some of the money be used for scholarships at London’s Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design, his alma mater.

McQueen’s will serves as further reminder that there is much to be missed in his passing: his impact on the world of fashion and his unbridled artistry, of course, but also, his compassion and his generous heart.

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Black and white. Two colors that, both together and separately, never go out of style. That fact, added to an exaggerated shawl collar and a classic silhouette, makes this the perfect throw-over-anything piece for Fall.

GET IT HERE.

If this W article, penned by Christa D’Souza, is any indication, the so-called “no pooing” is gaining mainstream. No doubt practiced by that surly, smelly roommate of yours who was really into Ani Difranco (I can’t be the only one whose had one of these right?), “scrofulous college students” (D’Souza must have known that girl too), these guys, and other unseemly characters it’s easy to see how “no poo” would get pooh poohed by any lady who doesn’t fancy wearing dreads or living in a cave (metaphorically or literally). But as another alleged no poo-er has said, “The times they are a-changin,” and if it is true that industry pros like Guido Palau, the hair guru behind this stunning editorial, are advocating it, one might have to consider renegotiating her position.

Shall I confess to you now that I’ve been “no pooing” for six months (six weeks is nothing)? OH SNAP. It’s true.

Though a diehard product junkie, I’m also not one to turn my nose up at something that could add much needed life to my naturally curly locks, and simplify my daily beauty regimen (giving me more time for more fun parts… even if it might smell). Besides, I’ll try pretty much anything once. It’s worked out pretty well so far and no one’s complaining. (Editor’s note: I complain about it all the time, actually.)

So,what are your thoughts? Have you tried it? Do you agree with D’Souza when she says, “It’s not just that I missed the smell of shampoo; it’s that between the 200 daily strokes, the dousing in hot water, the vinegar rinses, the head massages, and so on, not washing proved to be more high maintenance than the alternative.”

Have I fallen victim to some crazy trend or was my old roommate really onto something?

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[Daphne Guinness getting ready for the Gala in a Barney’s window… Why not?!?]

It was McQueen Mania at the Met last night, as the Costume Institute celebrated the designer and his body of work in their annual fundraising fête.

But the mania was well deserved, if regrettably posthumous. Few designers accomplished what McQueen accomplished with his work: an artistry that transcended his medium and lived purely in the world of fantasy, but that embodied so thoroughly what the rest of the world of designers and luxury giants are perpetually blathering on about: clothes that are, at their core, aspirational.

Master Milliner Philip Treacy said of the maelstrom at the Met:  “[McQueen] wouldn’t have come…”

My personal favorites, after the jump. [Clearly, Guinness is a goddess in McQueen, and as per usual completely overshadowed the myriad others who could only pay their lesser homage to Lee…]

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