Get Daily SuttonsLaw!

Follow me on twitter for daily updates! @SuttonsLaw

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Versailles '73 American Runway Revolution

When you think of the runway today, most likely you imagine tall, thin models stomping down the catwalk, glaring at you as they stop and turn in a pouty way.  Amazon-like, these creatures can be a little intimidating.

But it wasn't always like that. And after seeing the film documentary, Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution, now I know why.  Shown as a special screening at Soho House in Los Angeles in their intimate and cozy theater, director and visionary, Deborah Riley Draper, has created a film that captures a historical moment in fashion. The American world of ready-to-wear American Sportswear faces the Parisian haute couture creme de la creme in the epicenter of fashion.  Namely at the Palais de Versailles.  The same palace where Marie Antoinette donned her exquisite robes, chapeaux, and parasols - not to mention bijoux.

The film is beautifully narrated by Cameron Silver in his smoothest velvet voice, describing the rhymes and reasons of the meeting.  Apparently, there were some renovations that needed to be done in 1973 to Versailles, so the ultimate fundraiser was created.  Putting together a guest list of the who's who of the world, Eleanor Lambert (American publicist) and Gerald Van der Kemp (Versailles curator) created a fundraising pool of the most wanted in the world - and perhaps accidentally created the biggest change to the fashion runway. The idea was to have French and American designers showcase their designs on the stage at Chateau Versailles, to be followed by a dinner of the rich and powerful.  

Jane Birkin performing with models
The French designers: Yves St. Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin and Emanuel Ungaro.  Fearing that the Americans would put together a splashy show of movie stars, musicians etc, the French team assembled their own stars.  Josephine Baker sang J'ai Deux Amours, Rudolph Nureyev danced, huge set designs embellished the stage, and Paris Couture was modeled in its most traditional manner.  Their portion of the event was over two hours.  

The American designers: Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston and Stephen Burrows.  Strapped with a small budget, the American team had to use models they could afford.  And this included some of the most beautiful African American models who were rarely seen in the Paris fashion world.  They were a group of young girls who had to navigate through a foreign language, a culture of fashion that would scare off anyone, and the drama of artistic egos fighting to make themselves known in Paris.  

Liza Minnelli opened singing Bonjour, Paris (from the film Funny Face) alongside the models.  The show ran swiftly from designer to designer, ending with the looks from Stephen Burrows, who created chiffon dresses with trains, growing in length as each model came out.  Unlike the Couture models who moved slowly and methodically to show the precision of the clothes, these girls came out with a  vengeance, walking like thoroughbreds down the stage demanding attention.  

This stare, this walk had never been done before.  Simultaneously, the American sportswear designs were also fresh and new.  The Americans had come to Versailles like nervous cats and came out like victorious lions.  The audience rose to their feet, throwing their programs in adoration.  And of course the party began.

Ms. Draper commented that she had been inspired to make the film after reading an article on a luncheon held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in January 2011, honoring the models of Versailles.  The story is intriguing and she captured the excitement and 'revolution' that happened that night.  She mentioned to me that her personal lesson from the project was to stay true to who you are and follow your dream or vision, even if no one else can see it.  Something so simple that truly takes all of your inner strength and courage.  

Co-hosts Cameron Silver and Mikki Taylor
Producer/Director Deborah Riley Draper
Marisa Tomei
Jennifer Tilly 
Jessica Robin Trent and Meredith Tomkins 
After the screening, all of the guests joined from a round of cocktails in celebration.  Perhaps not in the style of Versailles, but Soho house does offer dramatic views of the LA cityscape.  Guests included were Traci Ross, Jennifer Tilly, Marisa Tomei and more.  I had the disticnt pleasure of sitting with Raf Simons (my new favored designer from Dior) and his friends/staff.  And our co-hosts Cameron Silver and Mikki Taylor.  Sort of a mini-Versailles '73...

The film will premiere in Atlanta, GA on Tuesday, September 4.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

For the love of Gaultier

The last day of Paris Couture week was my most anticipated day.  Jean Paul Gaultier.  You can expect Parisian chic, interesting, beautiful clothes shown with drama and flair.
With Cameron Silver  who is in cute Gaultier seer sucker, and I'm wearing Lisa Perry with
Gaultier necklace and leather jacket (photo courtesy of Ellen Olivier: Society News LA)
After about an hour, even the Divine Miss M had to stand up for a stretch and cool-off
Ulyana making her way in
First things first.  I thought the wait for the Rolland show was long the day before, but nothing had me prepared for the wait at Gaultier.  Held in his own space in the Marais, it can be hot along the catwalk in January, so just imagine in July.  In total time, we all waited 80 minutes.  I sat on the front row and straight across from me sat Bette Midler with her daughter.  And the Russian designer from the day before, Ulyana Sergeenko, came in wearing one of her couture designs.  Evian was passed around, and we all sat wondering if we were waiting for Madonna - or worse - Kim K.

George Sand

The show finally kicked off with sounds from Pete Doherty (apparently the show was inspired by the film he stars in, seen at the Cannes Film Festival, Confession of a Child of the Century).  Luckily, based on the film reviews, the show was much better than the film.  With a dark beginning, and looking like vampire visions of the turn of the Century, the black tails and top hats were alluring and sexy.  Breaking down the look into each piece, I saw the beauty and simplicity.  Everything was androgynous, as the show was also inspired by the life of George Sand, cross-dresser and writer of the nineteenth century.

But the men almost stole the show.  Even if they were dressed in dresses…

I must try this one on - sans fur.  And just look at the boots - these were also done in black.  Yummy!

Flappers emerged after the sea of black, bringing color, life and fun as the flappers did.  Les Garconnes, they also brought a little cross-dressing of their own with short hair, trousers for evening, and voting rights for women.  And thank the Lord, these models wore hair nets on their hair and not over their faces, remembering Valli and Armani.

Yes.  Worth the wait.  Gaultier fails to disappoint.  He is a genius of clothes, a genius of fashion.  A turban-wearing genius. And I have already downloaded the movie Impromptu...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Paris Haute Couture 2012: Ulyana Sergeenko, Stephane Rolland

It didn't seem possible to see any more beautiful clothes on the morning of Day 2, but I was off to do just that.  I started the day by seeing the first couture collection of Ulyana Sergeenko.  A Russian photographer, couture collector and street-style star, Sergeenko has turned designer with a passion for her homeland's traditional dress and culture.  

Ulyana on the street
Apparently, she is on the radar with Vogue magazine and the fashion world.  Her collection was very interesting - I've never seen anything like it.  Extremely editorial.  It was as if we were traveling through the Russian past, outfitting all the characters in Anna Karenina. There were the peasant blouses with ankle-length skirts, the Russian military came through in striking coats adorned with brooches looking like that of military medals, and then there was the Russian bride.  The show ended with a long dramatic black coat that could have been the same coat that Anna wore in her final moments.  

The models were like Matryoshka dolls (of the same size) marching out in various colors and babushkas, furs and mittens.  With sounds of Peter and the Wolf playing with the music, the designer transformed the Théâtre Marigny into a Russian menagerie.  Thinking about reading some more Tolstoy now…

Anna's Suicide Dress  

Quickly, I headed over to the Trocadéro for the Stephane Rolland Show.  French-born designer Stephane Rolland is no newbie to fashion.  As Creative Director for Balenciaga's menswear, he left to create his own ready-to-wear line, then ultimately in 2007 his couture line.  My first time to see his work, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  Held at the Cité de l'architecture of the Palais de Chaillot (known as the Palais du Trocadéro), the setting was of yet another world.  There were long wooden benches as seats, and the guest list must have been pages long.

Waiting for Godot: with Christine Chiu, new friend Stephanie and Cameron Silver
Photo courtesy of Ellen Olivier:
Shows are always late.  And this one was no exception.  My teenaged babysitter, McCall, had announced the previous day that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were to be at the Rolland show.  That fact alone almost made me not go.  But there we were, waiting waiting waiting for Kim and Kanye.  

The show finally started, without the couple du jour, with a floor length ivory dress.  The palette of the runway was organic and neutral.  The clothes were simple and wearable.  There was a definite consistency to the collection that you could feel and see.  Mostly in the noodles that hung from the shoulders of dresses or coats.  Everything was extremely dramatic, but the body-conscious cuts could look good on a lot of women.  I loved all of the wooden details, from belts to shoes - it was really cool and original.

The oddest moment came when the bride-look walked down the runway.  Obviously close to tripping on fabric and/or heels, the model walked the catwalk slowly, methodically.  She was spreading her arms out to reveal more of the noodle-capped cape atop the gown.  She walked in slow motion, almost fearful of the altar.  Fashion is in the eye of the beholder, and I was not beholden.  I found it more like a circus….  Cut to Kim Kardashian: she had finally entered to view the final "look".  Shopping for a wedding dress?  The whole thing was just bizarre, the clothes were relegated backseat to celebrity, and the benches for paying customers were as hard as the temperature was hot.  

Not afraid of crow (or noodle) pie, I did like the shoes.  My immediate reaction to the show was, get me those shoes!  I loved the wooden sole and the sexy hug of the instep. Very chic.

And, as for Kim and her couture shopping… I can only say that she made a mess of traffic around the Trocadéro...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Paris Haute Couture 2012-13: Giambattista Valli

Dior was such an experience, I almost could have packed my bags and gone home.  But, there were more clothes to see.  And after a quick break and change, it was off to see Gimabattista Valli.

An Italian designer from Rome, Valli brings to Paris always an over the top flair to couture.  As a true girlie-girl, I love all that is ruffle, chiffon, and floral.  But, wow.  Valli really takes it to a new level.  And for me, ruffles don't necessarily make couture.

Perhaps it was being spoiled by the simplicity of Dior's women as flowers and the floral decor surrounding them that the literal version of Valli's flowers was just too.. literal.

And I did not understand the hairnets over the faces.  And the butterflies didn't add too much appeal either.  I was thinking Silence of the Lambs, not nymph in the woods.

But the colors were radiant, and there were some dresses that brought a breath of fresh air with them.  The greens were especially beautiful, and I loved their subtle floral prints. No ruffles, only grace.

The highlights of the show were the accessories.  The juxtaposition of the heavy golden metal pieces atop the airy ruffles and frills was unexpected and balancing.  Beetles and dragonflies crawling up arms and heavy leaves laying across the chest, this is couture.

Christine in Valli couture, Cameron in Jean Paul Gaultier, and me in made-to-measure Haans Nicholas Matt
After the show I was ready for a caviar dinner with friends at Caviar Kaspia - pomme de terre au caviar!