Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ah, Yes, I Remember it Well...

FIORUCCI. The name still thrills with anticipation. The store was on 59th Street and Lexington, half a block from Bloomingdale's. It might be more scenic to shop on Fifth Avenue. Goods on Madison may be more swoon-worthy, but that little pocket of Manhattan was Trend Central. In the late '70s Bloomingdale's was still the It Gal of department stores. She was surrounded by little chain boutiques, cheap shoe stores and Alexander's, a giant discount retailer. North of Bloomingdale's Lexington turned more residential. The famed Barbizon Hotel for Women was at the corner of 64th. But I digress...

Fiorucci landed in New York in 1976. Studio 54. Disco Fever. NYC. While outlandish garb could be found in the Village or lower east side, Fiorucci was different. It was Uptown Gal meets Euro Trash—affordable, bountiful, fun, and it felt like a trip to Europe.

A young Elio Fiorucci

The Fiorucci in Fiorucci was Elio Fiorucci, who founded the chain in 1967 to bring swinging London and American classics to Milan. By the time Fiorucci opened in Manhattan (1976) it was carrying coals to Newcastle— offering disco style to the likes of Andy Warhol and Cher.

Fiorucci can be credited with the globalization of affordable fashion. Elio gathered Afghan coats, Brazilian thongs and Chinese velvet slippers in one place. In addition he pioneered skin tights jeans by putting the stretch in denim. Camouflage prints and leopard anything were always part of the mix. I would not be surprised to learn if the young Madonna were a salesclerk there. Fiorucci surely influenced her style.

The stores were brightly lit and basically all white walls and fixtures. There was so much color, pattern, music and human traffic it was like being inside a kaleidoscope. The graphics— posters, ads, shopping bags— were outstanding and constantly changing.  

As is the case with most of my shopping excursions, I looked often but bought rarely, only after much contemplation. One of my favorite pieces was an ivory crinkle tunic blouse— slightly A-line with a pilgrim collar and wide, long trumpet sleeves. It was extremely impractical for anything like working or eating, but looked great standing there. I wore it to death and only gave it away years later because I figured it was "time". Never a good reason to get rid of anything you love. I miss it still.

Mine was even more impractical

Fiorucci imploded in 1989 due to mismanagement and over-expansion and has been fighting legal battles since while trying many times to re-launch. Janie and Stephen Schaffer, industry pros, bought the brand shortly before Elio's death in 2015.

Today's Fiorucci jeans

The first to be revived again are the infamous stretch jeans ($250), selling at Barney's. A full-range Fiorucci is due to open in London this year, followed by stores in Milan and Los Angeles. Will it fly? By the looks of the fantasy coming down the runways these current Fashion Weeks, I would say we're all ready for a little make believe.

Long may they watch over

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Calling Dr. Frankenstein


This is what you call a mash-up. My first thought was, "Wow! I like that!" My second: "Why didn't I think of it first?"

I have a camo jacket and a multi-hued (rabbit) fur scarf. Why didn't I put them together? They really don't "go", but together they could go a lot of places. At $1295, as priced by Harvey Faircloth for this, one a lot of your money would go too.

I like to have fun with fashion. I'll sometimes be asked where I get my ideas. Most of the time I'm able to say I just make them up. I may have been influenced by something but never outright copy.  There are women you might think I mimic. Iris Apfel is one. We both have short hair, are petite and like big necklaces (though she has a few more years and necklaces). I'm not unhappy if you think that, but it's just a happy coincidence. Wish Iris and I had met when I lived in New York.

Mr. Faircloth has some other neat ideas for your surplus workwear and spare fur:

Got any?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Madame Predicts the New Spring Trends

It's that time again. From my perch on high I spy the new Spring (make that Summer also) trends. I have no credentials to predict them other than many years of espionage and a few hints in the marketplace and fashion press.

In a mountain greenery...

I've yet to see much evidence of Pantone's prediction for Color of the Year, "Greenery". That was called "apple green" back in the day. We'll see; it's a hard color to wear.

There are a few other safe bets for trends, though. That means they've been bubbling through high fashion or street style long enough for mass market retailers to get a hold of them.


Last year's off-the-shoulder has evolved to just


If not exactly vertical, at least these STRIPES are not horizontal.

Deconstructed shirts

Take a classic SHIRT, tear it all apart and start again. Expect this trend to be greatly modified from the runway above.

Sleeve detail

So what if you don't like to go sleeveless? There are so many SLEEVE DETAILS, including the gathers and ruching seen above. Besides, it's air conditioned everywhere.


OVERSIZED and boxy... we'll see how this one flies.

The Grand Slam of trends

There will be RUFFLES and CHECKS and MENSWEAR.


What would Spring/Summer be without FLORALS? 

Trends don't mean you must ditch your present wardrobe, which I assume you have worked long and hard culling to your particular needs. Maybe this is still a work in progress. Trends are for you who like a dash of newness— a bit of hot sauce, a touch of umami— or whatever is newest to perk up your style.

A gal can dream...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

John Malkovich: Fashion Designer

I'm not the least bit surprised that John Malkovich is a fashion designer. Although his commercial on Super Bowl LI tonight may look like a spoof, Malkovich actually does have a menswear line sold on, and it's not his first one.

You can dress like John Malkovich too

John Malkovich is an actor who is much a character himself. I don't mean that in a negative way. He's made over 70 films, including one called "Being John Malkovich". His quirky personality comes through in his best roles. I really enjoyed a recent turn in the tv series about Blackbeard the pirate, "Crossbones". He barely had a beard; it certainly wasn't black, but he fully embodied the malevolent, tyrannical Blackbeard. Shiver me timbers still when I think of it.

Blackbeard even without the black beard

We had the great pleasure to have John Malkovich as our dinner "companion" one Saturday evening in New Orleans. We had snagged a reservation at one of the most popular new restaurants. Although he was seated next to us, the tables were so close we might have been in his party. Also, John Malkovich was not whispering, nor did he ever stop talking. It was quite a performance, and we loved every eavesdropping minute of it.

I noticed not only did he look exactly like John Malkovich, he was dressed with great style in a pale blue collar-less shirt and pleated ivory linen trousers that seemed vintage 1930s. They were the kind of pants with buttons at the waist for the suspenders (not worn). His was the picture of casual chic marching entirely to the beat of his own drum.

Fashion design would not seem a profession entered into blindly. From the website's "about " page:
Since childhood, John has had an interest in clothes and fashion photography. He even studied costuming at university and, to this day, does costume design for theater. He walked the Comme des Garçons runway when no actor would and was featured in campaigns for Prada, Antonio Miro, and Armani, among others.
    John wrote and directed fashion films for English designer Bella Freud and wrote the “Christian Louboutin” book foreword. He created fabric for Liberty of London, did a design collaboration with Bailey Hats, designed clothes for Pirelli, and partnered with French watchmaker Richard Mille.
   Now, with his own label, John takes inspiration from his travels and experiences, fine art, and storytelling elements, such as setting and characterization. He sketches designs and patterns, refining every detail, while traveling and during downtime on set. For over 30 years, John has been a passionate fabric collector. With a meditative approach, he often spends several days focusing purely on fabric selection.
   John believes that fashion should be sincere because it’s rooted in self-expression. Fashion is about putting something together, and defining and transporting yourself. It’s about being bold and discreet at the same time. Above all, it’s about focusing on what you want and not worrying about what others expect you to be.
From the Spring-Summer 2017 lookbook
At present his clothes are carried at The Webster in Miami Beach and a boutique in Amsterdam. The showroom is in Paris; the full line can be purchased on I'm no menswear expert, but they appear standard-issue for a particular fashion aesthetic. The novelty would be in owning something designed by this charismatic actor and most interesting man.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hats Off to Pussy Hats

What's square and pink and marched its way into the lexicon of style? Did you say... a pussy hat? Right you are. The pussy hat began as a grass roots movement to make a point (or two) at the Women's March in Washington on January 20.

The pussy hat was inspired by some thoroughly disgusting banter spoken by Mr. Trump and unknowingly recorded. A few days after that video aired for all to see, his wife Melania wore a fuchsia pink blouse with a big bow to a campaign event. That particular style has long been called a "pussy bow". It's unknown whether Mrs. Trump chose it to comment on her husband's behavior.


Not sure where my head was at the time— reeling from the election, Thanksgiving, Christmas, new grandbaby— but preparations for the Women's March were beyond my radar. I knew I wouldn't be going to Washington or New York, and I truly had no idea the number of marches being organized, even the one in my city. Nor did I hear the click and clack of knitting needles or the silent running of crochet hooks as women across the country depleted our supply of pink yarn.

As video and photos streamed in on January 21, so did the sea of pink pussy hats. They had become a symbol of the March, which itself symbolized more than just women's rights. In the weeks following it's fair to say wearing a pussy hat makes a statement for those women (and men) with some deep-seated opinions about the state of our nation.

The stripped down pussy hat is basically a long rectangle stitched into a square. The "ears" appear  when slipped on the wearer's head. Myriad how-to instructions have appeared online. The Pussyhat Project  ( encouraged knitters to make multiples and send them to be distributed at the Washington march. The simplest could be knitted by a rank beginner on giant needles in a few hours. Others were more finely ribbed but none would be a knitting or crocheting challenge. You could even, pressed for time, make one from a length of pink felt.

Knitting and crocheting are traditionally women's crafts, often associated with something frivolous like gossip circles. In truth these have long been safe places for women to gather, share their thoughts and concerns, receive support and encouragement from other women. The thought is that anything handmade exhibits a level of care, and women care about their rights and all the rights that would seem to be of concern at the present time.

"So it is appropriate to symbolize this march with a handmade item, one made with a skill that has been passed down from woman to woman for generations."— The Pussyhat Project

Michigan State University has begun collecting pussy hats worn at the march for its museum as part of interest in what they call “craftivism,”, merging women's traditional domestic arts with activism.

To top it all a Maine-based artist, Abigail Gray Swartz, sent her idea for a cover to the New Yorker magazine. To her complete surprise the art editor responded, and her submission, a 2017 riff on WWII's iconic Rosie the Riveter, graces the February 6 issue.

What am I doing now? Furiously knitting a few pussy hats for friends and one for myself, of course. It's rarely ever cold enough to wear one in this part of Texas, but this ain't just about the hat.