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For the premiere of StyleBoston’s third season, I partnered with an all-star team to bring you what I consider to be one of the best Fashion Forward features to date: a behind-the-scenes look at our Fall 2011 editorial shoot.

I’ll admit, as a whole this F/W season was wildly underwhelming for me.  Throughout the shows in February, it seemed as though designers were reacting to continued buyer hesitation by pushing aside designs that could or would have felt new and fresh. Instead, in concert they gave us collections that not only pandered to the last-standing dollar, but also diluted, with their severe safeness, the very essence of the brands which designers were scrambling to save from financial woes. Gone were the idiosyncratic signatures of each designer–the differences that distinguish one brand from another–and in their stead was a mild sea of sameness. The waves advanced but never broke, and if they ever reached the shore, well, I must have missed them from where I was standing.

As a result of this conciliatory consensus among designers, the editorial pages of America’s major fashion tomes–Vogue, Elle, W, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and the rest of their ilk–were chock full of predictable features hailing the neoclassicist revival as the next best thing since the no-carb diet. “Finally, designers have come back to reality and created sensible collections that every woman, in every city, in every country, of every shape, of every age, can wear!” Never mind that no fewer than twenty designers brought you nearly the same pencil skirt silhouette. Never mind that you most likely already own that very silhouette and have for over a decade. These are clothes you can buy, said the editors. And though seeing that tired phrase over and over again definitely annoyed me,  I could hardly blame them. After all, designers lose money when their more outlandish pieces don’t sell and their retailers scale back their seasonal buys. Designers losing money = designers having smaller advertising budgets = designers spending fewer advertising dollars with America’s paragons of print.  Either way, it was clear: the buzzword of the season was buy buy buy buy buy, and it was repeated ad nauseum.

My word was somewhat different: bored.

Of course, I enjoy a somewhat rare position: we at styleboston maintain a pretty strict separation between our sponsors and our editorial coverage, so I’m not beholden to tell you to buy buy buy buy buy whatever’s sitting on the racks at your nearest boutique or department store. That, frankly, just isn’t my thing. If you already have it, you probably don’t need another, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, you don’t actually need any of this. But fashion, at its best, is an incredible form of escapism, a bit of fantasy that you can put on and take off as you see fit. By my estimation, when a design hits that mark, it’s always a worthy investment.

All that in mind, the team and I selected our favorites from the Fall 2011 season for this feature. That labels like Comme des Garçons and Proenza Schouler made it onto that list is to be expected,  but there were certainly a few surprises, too: a diaphanous cocktail dress from Christian Siriano, for example. The designer himself dubbed the tulle confection the “ChaCha” dress because of the way the skirt floats and sways away from the body as you move, and frankly, who could resist a dress that makes you want to dance until you drop? I mean, damn, even I was tempted to purchase the thing, and I don’t wear dresses (they don’t fit) and I hate dancing (because I can’t dance).

All kidding aside, I hope you’ll take a few moments to peruse the feature, Cosas Oscuras, and maybe, just maybe, remember that while fashion is a serious industry, it is not serious business. Consider some of fashion’s most historic moments… In 1947, Christian Dior rebelled against post-World-War-II fabric restrictions by using over 20 yards in a single silhouette. It was a perfectly pedantic whim, but in the process he débuted the revolutionary New Look. Yves Saint Laurent fantasized about a modern power woman, slick and in control. That fantasy manifested itself as the Le Smoking tuxedo. It was the first clear foray into menswear as womenswear, territory designers are still mining for inspiration to this very day. Or Savage Beauty, the Met’s Alexander McQueen retrospective, which not only drew record crowds, but was then extended, then sold over 20,000 new memberships as people vied to skip the four-hour lines. When it finally closed, the museum could hardly meet demand.  In short, a little fantasy goes a long way.

And for those who wonder at my admittedly pretentious title, Cosas Oscuras, I’ll come clean: the phrase was plucked from one of my favorite lines of Pablo Neruda’s verse, “Te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras…” I won’t bother translating it because, hey, this is the digital age. You, like me, have google.

So take it in, love it, hate it, burn it (difficult through a computer screen, but I admire persistence!). And, as always, please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section.

Much love,
JGC

Those of you who read my Letter from the Editor last week know that I spent the Sunday prior in Gloucester, slaving away on a photo shoot. I didn’t tell you why or whatfor because, these days, I like to keep my secrets.

That said, the results are now ready! I have to admit the day ended up being far more fun than it was work (due largely to the crew I worked with, and largely to the phenomenal weather that day…).

So take it in, kids: one of the last vestiges of summer. As a California transplant, I’d say I did all right, non?

All clothes courtesy of Neiman Marcus & Stel’s; all shoes courtesy of Sperry. For purchasing info, leave a comment and we’ll give you the details…

The inimitable Nastasia and her lackey of a partner, moi, leaving Gloucester late last night. We spent the day along the shoreline, snapping some rather iconic New England scenes with photographer Conor Doherty, suffering sunshine in the name of fashion. [Photograph courtesy of Conor Doherty.]

I’ll admit it: I’m starting to really like living in New England.

August 18th will mark the 3rd anniversary of my move to Massachusetts. But I’m not big on anniversaries. Hell, hardly any of my friends even know my birthday because I find such celebrations contrived. Why ‘celebrate me’ on the day I was born? I didn’t have much to do with that event, really, and all things considered, would probably have done it a bit differently. But that’s neither here nor there. Back to that anniversary…

When I first moved to Boston I was a foreigner. The city felt new, fresh, alive and utterly alien–a city to be explored and discovered, on my own terms. To say I was excited would be a gross understatement of the situation. I was ecstatic. Then came the inevitable realization that I had uprooted myself in almost every possible way, and, not long after, a near-violent loathing for Boston and for its people.  What seemed like the best capricious decision I had ever made took a rather nasty turn to the contrary. How I had not considered that what was attractive to me about Boston also meant I would have to start over completely?

My greatest hurdle was not professional, it was personal: I couldn’t make a friend to save my life. Experience has taught me that my personality is a polarizing one: you either love me or you hate me. But Bostonians didn’t react that way at all. Generally speaking, they were perfectly indifferent.  Cold, even. I spoke to nearly ever stranger on the street, complimented more women for their hair or their handbag than bears repeating (this works wonders in California, LET ME TELL YOU), and made more futile attempts at friendship than I can suffer to share.  A lot of side eye, a lot of  “I’m sorry, who are you and what is that you are wearing?” And goddamn was it discouraging.

But I’m one stubborn SOB. I wasn’t about to pack up and head back to sunny Santa Barbara, no matter how many people told me to do just that. One man’s narcissism being another man’s determination, I decided I was staying. Whether you (or I) liked it or not.

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When Conor Doherty calls to tell me he wants to shoot, invariably I’m in. Add to that one of my favorite Boston models, Matt Atwater, and you have love affair on film. [Don’t worry, Conor, it’s purely platonic… you’re a good-looking guy and all but I’ve seen you wear chinos. You’re safe for life after that one.]

I was also alerted to an incredibly cool apparel, accessories, and shoe company out of Korea, VirginBlak, by our model, Matt Atwater, and have been perusing their site almost non-stop for the past three days…

An aside: If I recall correctly, our ersatz shoot took less than an hour in total. If only I could be as efficient in my writing…

Much love,
JGC

Model Matt Atwater, Photographer Conor Doherty, and I decided on a whim to tool around our beautiful town for an ersatz photoshoot that turned out to be anything but.  To illustrate the point: the image above is nearly straight from the camera, uncropped and unretouched. More to come Monday…

Until then, get out of the house and enjoy the weekend! AND the Bruins celebration and its concomitant day of sanctioned debauchery! Having never heard of the Bruins until Wednesday evening when the name was being screamed at an ear-exploding decibel throughout my South Boston neighborhood, I feel a little too late to the party to show up now. I also don’t care about sports and am lazy.

To borrow from Lyyke Li (one of my favorite things to do, clearly):
“Yeah, I’m workin’ a sweat but it’s all good. I’m breakin’ my back but it’s all good, ’cause I know I’ll get it back. Yeah, I know your hands will clap.”

Much love –
JGC