Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Riff on Lists

Vanity Fair's Best Dressed First Ladies.
Best Dressed
by Blair Sabol

Considering myself an inadequate judge of couture and the sartorial, I asked a friend who for a long time made it her business to assess and write about fashion, Blair Sabol, if she’d give me her take on this year’s List in a Guest Diary.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Blair, she came on the scene in the late 1960s writing for the Village Voice, and she was always a must-read for this non-fashion maven because of her very intelligent irreverence. The name of her column (which she wrote for 16 years) was “Outside Fashion,” as opposed to the then current establishment column in the New York Herald Tribune and later the New York Times called “Inside Fashion” by Eugenia Sheppard.

Face it, lists of any kind are made to be laughed at. Who's hot, who's not, who's in/out, who's up/down. But nothing is more ludicrous than the Best Dressed List. Although Mr. Blackwell was the best at the campy version, now he is dead and so is the whole concept.

After all who IS well dressed nowadays? Thirty years ago it had relevance. WWD made it all so important and so did we as a culture. Back then people got dressed up and actually HAD style.

2009 Best-Dressed List from the International Best-Dressed Poll by Vanity Fair magazine:

HRH Princess Letizia of Asturias
Chiara Clemente
Penelope Cruz
Kathy Freston
Agnes Gund
Anne Hathaway
Alicia Keys
HH Sheikha Mozah of Qatar
Kelly Ripa
Lizzie Tisch

Paloma Cuevas and Enrique Ponce
Diana Taylor and Michael Bloomberg
Natalia Vodianova and Justin Portman
Shelley Wanger and David Mortimer

Jane and Aerin Lauder
Stavros and Eugenie Niarchos
Tiki Barber
Arpad Busson
Daniel Craig
Matteo Marzotto
Barack Obama
Ogden Phipps II
Brad Pitt
Roo Rogers
Alejandro Santo Domingo
Cy Twombly

Stacey Bendet
Tory Burch
Georgina Chapman
Ali Hewson
David Lauren
Mathilde Meyer-Agostinelli
Candy Pratts Price
Rachel Roy
Franca Sozzani
Hall of Fame
Liliane Bettencourt
Catherine Deneuve
Lapo Elkann
Count Manfredi Della Gherardesca
Renee Zellweger

First Ladies
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy
Michelle Obama

The Duchess of Alba
Peter Beard
Nicky Haslam
Ike Ude
Bruce Weber

Now style of any kind is delegated to highly paid "stylists" and the PR machines who keep it all reported. Celebrities don’t actually pick and chose their wardrobes.  Their entourages do all the heavy lifting. It's why red carpet fashions are so boring and pointless. The same three stylists are in charge. Where's the "honest to bod" creativity anymore?

So along comes Vanity Fair's Best Dressed List ... and why? They equate power with dressing. Well, why not. Most well dressed people I know don’t even have the money (i.e. power) to shop anymore. Sure Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni are up there, but isn’t it their job to be Best Dressed? And aren’t David Lauren and Tory Burch and even Rachel Ray and Kelly Ripa in the clothing biz?  Some may even have lines at Walmart.
So where is the hardcore originality? Bruce Weber, Cy Twombly, and The Duchess of Alba is the best they can come up with? Sad. Some of the names start with titles: "count" and “baroness," but they don’t count. As for Brad Pitt ... isn’t Tom Ford merchandising him completely? And Rene Zellweger? Outside of her personal vintage clothier and her yoga mat and Crocs ... I can’t imagine she has all that interest in rack slapping for herself.

The truth is nobody really cares about clothes on that level anymore. Why should they ... foreclosure is the new fashion. That's the good and bad news. From what I see on the streets nobody needs or wants clothing direction or even articles on the Clothing Gods and Goddesses.
We have been reduced to going to quality restaurants dressed in Cargo pants, T-shirts, baseball caps worn backwards and flip flops!!! A year ago WWD ran a full page picture of "The Look" and "The Girl" of the moment, and for me ... this said it all: There "SHE" was, sashaying down Fifth Avenue and 57th street in hot pants (ass cheeks flying), 8-inch high black laced up stiletto heels, boobs busting from a halter top, Jimmy Choo garbage bag-sized hobo, barricade black sunglasses and cellphone glued to her ear.  

"SHE" was Ashley Dupree. Elliot Spitzer's $1,500 an hour hooker. And why not. (Remember in 1971 it was Jackie O or Babe Paley coming out in their Coureges with their Dior pumps and Gucci bag). I say bring it on ... fashion's biggest and current influence is Porn!!!

Where's Mr. Blackwell when you need him.