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Oh! You Pretty Things

By Allison MacKenzie

Kategate is more unusual, but when it does explode they milk it to the max. Then, there are the absurd moral crusades (black models, plus size models, pre-pubescent models... how wonderful is the African chic just in time for the world cup), where fashion magazines and brands jump on the bandwagon with a transparent cynicism which everybody buys. Only from time to time do we question some high fashion insider, as with the media execution not so long ago of Terry Richardson, where incidentally there ended up being no actual consequences. We’ve seen that the danger of constantly being in the public eye is the difficulty of not being able to control what is said about you.

One of the most hyperactive and over-exposed characters is Karl Lagerfeld, who has surpassed the freakish ego-mania of colleagues as Galliano. Not so long ago, VICE magazine published an interview with Bruce LaBruce regarding gay civil partnerships (to the kaiser, by the way, the homosexual “weddings” are just a bourgeois pastime), the astonishingly expensive services of the male companions he hires to fulfil his needs, and how much he enjoys porn. Very well. The documentary “Lagerfeld Confidential” confirmed that the septuagenarian barely visits the ateliers of the French maison. In not in a single frame do we see him with a pin or a pair of scissors in his hand, which is strangely something that doesn’t seem to concern anybody. Not to worry. Not so long ago he filled up the Grand Palais with a gigantic iceberg and dressed up models in a surreal style à la Chewbacca. Furthermore, the photographs which German magazine “Stern” have published of Claudia Schiffer sporting an afro back-comb wearing dark skin make-up have created quite a retrograde controversy – far from being racist, the photographs are just dull and clichéd. And in case you haven’t heard, the rumours about the probable substitution of Lagerfeld at the helm of Channel are growing stronger by the day.

The question is, has the time come for Karl to consider retirement? Has his power to shock been exhausted? How long has it been since he gave his name to a decent collection? Will he keep on entertaining us as a pop phenomenon until he reaches the end of his life (with the undoubtedly decadence it would involve)? Or, does he deserve as spectacular s grand finale as Valentino or Saint Laurent, to be remember as he should be? Will the figure of the über designer end with Lagerfeld? Will we ever know his real age? Is he loosing the plot?

Speaking of forced retirement (and loosing the plot), there is very little to say about the moronic “Sex in the City 2”. Not even the most die hard fans of the TV series, the ones who’ve memorised the script lines of the first film (yes, there are some out there), seemed to have enjoyed the second part of the big screen adventures of Carrie and co. in Abu Dhabi (actually filmed in Morocco), and it’s not surprising. We wouldn’t bat an eyelid if the whole cast had become persona non grata in the Arab Emirates. With each detail we learn about the budget and production, our feelings of contempt for the movie increase. Is not because the plot is predictable and bland, nor because the script writers have outdone themselves with racist, homophobe and sexist gags. It is because, in a nutshell, the film is an insult to anyone with half a brain. Though in hindsight, “SATC2” could also be looked at as a triumph in showing women what NOT to become in their golden years. Perhaps in the future it will be classroom material in feminist crash courses - as an example NOT to follow.

Beyond the content of the film, there is the form and the look. Fashion and style have always had an equal or even greater prominence in the saga led by Sarah Jessica Parker, particularly in the later seasons of the TV series and both movies. It’s a fact that, in recession times, escapism is the king (just take a look to the rest of the new cinema releases and best sellers list of the past three years). But be careful, there are many types of escapism. Perhaps there is no need to book €22,000 per night suites or to sport $50,000 outfits in the middle of the Arabic desert to escape crude reality. Don’t you think?

One of the biggest mistakes of “Sex and the City 2” is to show such excessive wealth that at times seems like a mirage of bad taste - times when ostentation becomes offensive. And now is really not the time. For example, a couple of days ago the former Spanish President, José María Aznar, cancelled a “friendly meeting” with Israel (at a London conference) two days after the attack on the pro-Palestine flotilla citing “image reasons.” Considerations like this are ones that the “SATC2” creators simply haven’t thought about in their disengagement from reality. This is the reason there has been such a visceral aversion in reviews of the film, in print and on the net. Because every term has a certain style. And truth to be told, we are not having a stellar time. Without a clear style to define the present-day, we are right now praying 2010 that won’t be remember as the year “Sex and the city 2” was made. It would be humiliating. Our grandchildren would laugh in our faces, and rightfully so.

That’s all, folks.And to finish it off, some safety pins to pass the time:

The blog: Nerd Boyfriend, the perfect diary to pay homage to the style of such elegantly and impeccably dressed males as Tom Wolfe, Bob Dylan, Kerouac & Cassady and the Box Tops. Peruse a guide to finding corduroy trousers like the ones Woody Allen wore in the 70s, find inspiration with the new wave look of David Byrne, or purchase a bow-tie a la James Joyce or a stripey jumper worn by Jim Carrey in “ Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. We like the simple design, its economy of words and the clever and entertaining image selection (Claude Chabrol in his pyjamas, immense). Retro but without being cheesy or excessively nostalgic.

The I-want-it-all collection: This summer is Sophomore. Charming and uncomplicated T-shirts, the ones you can wear to do the weekly shopping or to go out to dinner on a Thursday night, cheerleader-ish dresses and denim shorts that are a tad worn through. Very casual, but still hugely desirable. It confirms the revenge of the 90s and how easy and relaxed it was to dress back then, when there weren’t any exhausting street-style blogs and fashion wasn’t as important as it is now. Truth be told, the collection is nothing new and the items probably are overpriced ($79 for a distressed cotton top? Are you kidding me?), as happens with all trendy labels which sell through theoverestimated Opening Ceremony, though the video by the artist Cass Bird that introduces the collection is rather captivating. It was filmed in Coney Island with non-professional models that seem to come from the set of film “Kids”, and even the conversation is sometimes a bit sordid (channelling the spirit of Larry Clark). It is photographed beautifully and you can watch it through this link. Also, this is Cassie Bird’s website - a great discovery.

The hype: The group that wants Dolly Parton on the cover of French Vogue. Is rather improbable that Carine Roitfeld will approve, though it would be incredible.

The hype we never get tired of: Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy from Rodarte, for many and varied reasons. Aside from the incredibly romantic and gothic dresses, they are die-hard film lovers. The kind that take any given opportunity will recall the greatness of Terrence Malick. Therefore, it’s not strange that coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the release of “ À bout de souffle”, Rialto productions have chosen them to re-design the poster and the legendary T-shirt that Jean Seberg wears at the beginning of the film as they are strolling down the Champ Élysées with a bunch of Herald Tribunes under the arm. The worst thing is, as it always happens with this exceptional collaborations, we are going to have to travel to Barneys or Colette to get hold of one.

Every-bleeding-where: Akiko Matsuura. Since she was photographed naked by Richard Kern (his porno shots have set the VICE website alight), The Big Pink drummer, who is also in Comanechi and Pre, is everywhere. Even Vogue adore her. In her blog Exceedingly Good Keex she posts pictures of her mega-parties alongside Cassette Playa and The Gossip. Whatever.

The dismay: Marc Jacobs naked, bathed in oil and with in post-coital pose promoting his new men’s fragrance. Or, how to send running in the opposite direction most of your potential male heterosexual buyers (and half of the gay ones too). Not even Tom Ford, better known as Mister Explicit Sex, would even consider a close shot of a bottle of perfume in his crotch. What’s his plan, to steal from Tom’s clutches the title of Gayest Designer In The World? To sex up his image now that he’s going to get “married” and settle down? Or are these the secondary effects of all that methamphetamine he has snorted in the past? Marc, come back, please.

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