Thursday, July 27, 2017

No Holds Barred: It’s not your father’s ...

by Blair Sabol

Of course times have changed! If I hear “It’s not your father’s (fill in the blank ... war, pants, car, porn etc.) anymore I will scream. But change is good — even if the current political landscape resembles an insane reality show. The good news is everyone now seems engaged (for better or worse) in our country’s welfare and tuning into the news 24/7. What else is there to watch?

But news moves so fast — you can’t keep up! Look at all the retail companies and fashion houses who keep tanking or firing their head executives and designers. Who knew I would wake up to the headline that Tiffany is now wobbling or Sears has flat lined!
Even certain “Fashion Weeks” appear to be on life support. And maybe that is a good thing ... at last! In New York — Thom Browne, Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, and Altuzarra all announced their exits for Paris. That leaves Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and Tom Ford and Rihanna in NYC with not much to ballyhoo about. But who honestly cares about any fashion weeks — other than the industry. It does make NYC look seriously B-listed as a fashion center, but I think it has more to do with the change in Fashion Media. Doing huge PR performances like using Madison Avenue as a runway or a Zoo as a location is meaningless. Fashion weeks are bloated events. The business has to catch up to the fact that people don’t care about spectacles and excitement — they get that every day on their devices. After all, if NFL games are now being streamed, why not fashion? Face it ... New York, Paris, London and Milan Fashion Weeks were never the Super Bowl of design.
And this backs up to the recent firing of British Vogue fashion director Lucinda Chambers, who worked at British Vogue for 36 years. Her personal thoughts went viral on vestoj.com and it shook the industry. Suddenly she was the Camille Paglia of Fashion Media. Her talking points were honest and brutal and true. “Truth be told, I haven’t read Vogue in years — maybe I was too close to it after working there for so long — but I never felt I led a Vogue-y kind of life. The clothes are just irrelevant for most people, and so ridiculously expensive.”

No Kidding, and who doesn’t agree with all of that? But she goes on ... “It’s a shame that magazines have lost the authority they once had. They’ve stopped being useful in Fashion — we are trying to make people buy something that they don’t need. They don’t need any more bags, shirts or shoes. So we cajole, bully or encourage people into buying ...”
Lucinda Chambers. Photo: Linda Brownlee
And she goes further ...

“Fashion Shows are all about expectation and anxiety. We are on display. It is theatre. I’m 57 and I know that when shows come around in September I will feel vulnerable. Will I still get a ticket? Where will I sit? Most people who leave Vogue end up feeling that they’re lesser than ... In Fashion the businessmen are trying to get their creatives to behave in a business like way; everyone wants more and more ... faster and faster ... So much demand on designers and we now see the casualties ... fashion can chew you up and spit you out ... You are not allowed to fail in Fashion — especially in this age of social media — when everything is about leading a successful, amazing life. Nobody today is allowed to fail — it causes anxiety and terror. But why can’t we celebrate failure? After all, it helps us grow and develop. I’m not ashamed of what happened to me ... I didn’t leave. I was FIRED.”
Bravo for Chambers! So who needs Fashion mags — if shows are now live streamed and consumers can order clothes as they appear directly. Vogue’s importance has diminished because looking at “high-end” style is no longer an “escape” for most people. Instagrammers and bloggers rule the current aesthetic. Even Vogue’s attempt to go digital with style.com has bombed. They were too late. Remember, speed is of the essence nowadays. It is the consumer, not the editors who have the impact on Fashion — sharing their positive or negative reviews online. It’s a new day and even Anna Wintour has been given a new job title — “Artistic Director for Conde Nast” — Good Luck!
In the meantime, the two biggest challengers to Fashion magazines are Vestoj (a journal that looks at “fashion as a cultural phenomenon”) “encouraging critical and independent voices” and my personal favorite, The Business of Fashion — a “blog started to challenge Women’s Wear Daily” but now runs on subscriptions and has great writers and “spin-off” reprint editions. BOF has become the Financial Times of Fashion. Recently they ran a story, “Does the Fashion Industry need Vogue in the Age of Social Media.” No, and they nailed it.

So it looks like the populist “on-liners” rule over the elitist magazine editors. And why not, since Fashion always reflects the culture.

Last week Bloomberg published a poll that stated 53% of the public now distrusts most billionaires, bankers, and CEOs. This news comes on the heels of Herb Allen’s annual Sun Valley retreat/conference — known as the “Summer Camp for Billionaires.”

Cavalcades of pictures ran on this “retreat” — the countries biggest moguls appearing awkwardly dressed in athleisurewear! Michael Bloomberg’s bare legs in big shorts and “peds” for socks.

Rupert Murdoch displaying his skinny arms in a golf shirt and baggy jeans (his fashionista wife Jerry Hall was absent on a cruise instead ... he needed her help).

Too many badly quilted vests and ill-fitting jeans! Jeff Bezos sporting his exploding “Popeye” biceps! Ivanka Trump looking “basic” in a blouse and shoes from her own line. Topping Ivanka was Stacey Bendet (Founder of Alice + Olivia) appearing overdressed in her own flared jeans and message t-shirt saying “eye candy.” Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg was photographed in a Moto sweater with her latest “accessory” BFF Activism Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick on her arm.

Honestly, most of the middle aged moguls looked like older “white men dressing badly.” Say what you will about Donald Trump — he has never appeared in baggy cargo pants and a giant Untuckit shirt. And everyone at the Allen conference was photographed holding a coffee cup and a cell phone looking dazed and confused.

What exactly is the purpose of the Herb Allen Sun Valley Retreat? Isn’t this gathering obsolete? Are they really “deal making,” toasting marshmallows, fist bumping their own popularity?

Aren’t most mega-moguls the biggest starfuckers and this is the best opportunity to do it? The private jet lineup was a sight to behold — and yet haven’t we seen enough of that? Even the latest gazillionaire to appear, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, seemed uncomfortable and they were wearing what they really always wear, tight jeans, Nikes and a hoodie!

It was covered like a red carpet event and it came off looking like “calculated schlubbiness.” The dress code has been described as “relaxed” or “humble.” Really? It really said a lot that these “Power Players” looked as awful as the rest of us.

Frankly, all this “change” is making me nervous. Where is it all going, and where are the new “leaders” in any area of our culture? Well, time takes time and many say you have to “hit rock bottom” to restart. But aren’t we there yet?

In the meantime, we have “Game of Thrones” to give us some kind of direction with the title of their final series ominously called “Winter is Coming.” They also have great costumes — black “boiled” leather jackets with huge shoulders. Better than what I’ve seen on the runways!

But if “Winter is Coming” doesn’t work, we have “the coming of OJ.” Imagine seeing OJ Simpson as the hot bachelor in the center of the “selfie scene” like never before. Ah yes ... everything old is new again!