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On Queer Lives, Fashion, Mourning, and Pulse (Fashion Conscious: A Column)

August 18, 2016

by Dominique Michelle Davis

The mass murder in Orlando at Pulse Nightclub, which claimed the life of 49 people, had me feeling less than optimistic about the future of our country, although I believe that love has a true power to heal pain and hurt. I tread lightly with the following words as not to unintentional offend anyone. I am not trivializing or trying to marginalize the LGBTQ community to a world of fashion and the arts, we know that LGBTQ people are and bring so much more to the world than that, so know that I get it. Still, the recent murder of all of those people, and the target specifically of the LGBTQ merged with a due date for a article. Unable to mourn without writing, and grieve without mourning, I thought I would try to find a way to accept the clear synthesis of the two for me over this summer. So this column is dedicated to members of the community that identify with the LGBTQ community as allies or otherwise. People have dedicated their life’s work to our society whether embraced or not.

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As a member of the human race and being doubly oppressed as an African American woman, I was floored by the inhuman hatred that we still harbor toward our fellow humans. The human existence is thought to be one of the highest levels of transcendence as we have the ability to intellectualize thoughts and act beyond our worse instincts. The human struggle is difficult enough with the games and systems that exist within our society, and for us to choose to add on the persecution of our fellow human beings based on whom they choose to love or who loves them is deeply sad. This Fashion Conscious column then pays respect to the lives lost to senseless violence due to a hatred caused by lack of understanding, a lack of empathy and persistent intolerance.

Numerous people have written about the many wonderful contributions LGBTQ people have made to history, culture, politics, and religious life. Fashion is, of course, only one such area. In February 2015, for example, Queerty ran a story called “The 15 Greatest Gay Designers,” while legendary fashion scholar Valerie Steele of the Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) presented an exhibit and accompanying book called “A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk.”

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Writings like this article and book provide such important insights into some of the many contributions that queer people have made to fashion for more than a century.Confirmation of these contributions are all around me. Every time I look around at the day to day fashion in the city of Chicago alone, I stand to view at least 1 person wearing a Michael Kors watch, purse, or shoes, not to mention he was a major factor in project runway, Yeezus shouts out Ver-say-ce in “when it all falls down”, Nikki Minaj repped Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein has been an influential figure within the fashion industry and the list continues beyond the world of fashion of how many people have contributed to advance our culture and broaden the perspectives of curators and critics.

In the days following the murders at Pulse, many people took to news and social media to grieve. Several noted that what was sad was that so many of the people were so young and had so much they would do with there lives and contribute to the world. I understood that and share that sense of loss, and and yet, I hesitate to highlight or mourn these contributions in the same way I have talked about what queer people have given to fashion here because, what Pulse taught me about mourning queer lives taken with such disregard is that it shouldn’t take for a person to be a great designer, dancer, singer, actor, politician, religious leader, teacher or anything at all for us to mourn them. The death of any person, and in the context of what I say here any queer person, is a loss because it is a loss of a human being who other people loved and needed. So much of the focus on those who were killed at Pulse, and the queer people who are killed everyday because they are queer, makes the well intentioned point that their death means also the death of potential for what things they will have bought to the world. My point here is that their potential doesn’t matter. It is a loss regardless and tragic regardless. The simple taking of a life is sad enough, and focusing on what those people could have or would have been seems also a bit too insufficient. So this column ends, perhaps rather abruptly and still very sadly, in not really knowing what to say, but hoping that we can create a space to be.

Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW: Derek Lam is Totally My Valentine and…

February 14, 2016

… YES, I confess that I am totally just saying that because I want one of these gorgeous coats he showed in his Fall 2016 collection for New York Fashion Week, I already got a man. As for those extraordinary coats, here are the receipts:

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On the strength of these looks alone Lam’s show was, by far, among my favorite of today (being edged out just a teeny, weeny bit by Public School because their clothes make me think a lot and I’m a fashion nerd).  But to top off these already phenomenal looks, he also gave us this, and this, and that!:

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Slayed. Annnnnd, scene.

 

-edp

Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW Fall ’16: Public School Resists Fashion’s Gender Gazing Problem

February 14, 2016

Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School have a lot on there plate these days. In addition to designing for the label they have successfully built into a must-see, award winning fashion and style brand, the two also now occupy the helm of the legendary DKNY. In a time when many are lamenting the death of creativity in fashion as a result of designer’s being tasked with too much to do, these two clearly still have steam as we saw in their recent Fall 2016 Menswear collection that slayed the runway, and now their Fall 2016 ready-to-wear collection for NYFW.

What I love about Public School is that, even when fashion sticks to basic notions of gender identity and expression in terms of clothes, and the fashion house does play by those old rules in terms of having a separate menswear and womenswear show (which, to be fair, is actually somewhat recent for their company), the fashion house and the clothes they produce do emerge from an aesthetic that is agender. The payoff of this, besides the obvious gender radicalness of it all, is that they can play with color and texture in their garments, but above all with silhouette’s as the form and function of their designs don’t appear to constrain on the basis of rigid rules of gender identity and expression we find in most mainstream fashion houses and others operating at the top levels as Public School. For this show we see large ponchos, oversized trousers and jeans, and layers that work to conceal rather than convey particular attention to any of the markers much of fashion draws the eye to in an effort to distinguish those features that denote men’s clothes and women’s clothes and rigid notions of what femininity and masculinity are and could be in and through fashion and style. In sum, I appreciate the cerebral nature of what Public School does each season and this collection keeps that going.

Here are some of my favorites from the Fall 2016 ready-to-wear line:

 

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-edp

Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW: Christian Siriano Made us a Believer in Yellow.

February 14, 2016

I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it again. Christian Siriano is one of the best in the evening wear game. The risks he takes with fabrics for evening, his use of color, his imagination that what one could wear for evening could be something more than just a gown but something more edgy and fun are among his strengths and what make his collections one to watch for me.

For Fall 2016, I am most transformed by his use of yellow. Yellow has never been a color I love, but in both his Spring 2016 collection and this latest Fall show, Siriano used yellow in ways that have made be a believer in this “Big Bird” couture. And I mean that in a REALLY< REALLY good way. The yellow wasn’t all the same, some verged on a more pale side, others vibrant, and at least one leaned very chartreuse. All of them, in my eyes, were by far my favorites from the collection and are among my favorite for NYFW so far, and I don’t know what to make of that as yellow usually calls up my shade button. Here are my favorites from among them:

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I also enjoyed what Siriano did with so much knitwear for evening, and some that could also work for day. In addition to the yellow knit pieces above, there was other that really caught my eye:

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Staying true to his strength and signature, Christian Siriano’s gave us so many dresses that gave so much life. Among my favorites and most “RCR” (red carpet ready) were these:

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Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW Fall ’16: Alexander Wang Redefines “Beauty and Taste”

February 14, 2016

The only thing that says f*** the fashion establishment better than sex worker chic, is sex worker chic done through fabrics, separates, and styling that are the status symbols of said establishment. This was the Fall 2016 show of Alexander Wang, unarguably himself part of the fashion establishment, after a meteoric rise from his eponymous label to the head of legendary French house Balenciaga, and back. And so it was fitting that in his first show since leaving his Parisian perch, that Wang would give a collection that remixes those establishment symbols with his own signatures – especially that hardware – to make a clear statement that there was life before and after Balenciaga for him, and that fashion and style has a life that is bigger than the establishment and its symbols.

With this intention, Wang’s collection outfits a couture street fight in which the models looks prepare them for battle with the establishment: studded boots to kick its ass, stockings already ruined with labels emblazoned on them so one doesn’t have to worry about the running while they “fight the power.” Wang did struck me as the kind of thing Hedi Slimane has attempted to do at Yves Saint Laurent since he took over that house, much to the chagrin of many fashion critics, though the YSL customer seems to love it as Slimane’s work brings in lots of coins. Somehow, however, Wang’s approach went down a bit easier than Slimane’s grunge girls and Hollywood pilgrim looks at Saint Laurent. Maybe this supports the overall takeaway from Wang’s Fall 2016 collection: the taste and beauty standards of the industry that the establishment desires is no sustenance for the 21st century fashionista who insists on being and dressing free.

Here are three of my favorite looks from Alexander Wang Fall 2016:

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-edp

Glamourtunist

#NYFW Fall ’16: Cushnie et Ochs

February 13, 2016

by Dominique M. Davis

After seeing the Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs’s pre fall 2016 collection I was ready to be wowed by a ready-to-wear line inspired by culture of a reinvented sari, instead I was given couture cocktail, vibrant vixen, and sultry slayed from the fall 2016 collection. They went in a totally different direction, and it too wowed me just like their pre-Fall.

Lace, silk, fur and a fabric I could not quite discern gave the collection a cohesive after five, cocktail glam aesthetic. Traditional colors of elegance turned basic black, silver, ivory, red and gold into a collection of Avant-garde yet regal pieces into a cohesive line of grace and style.

Here are a few of my favorite looks for the Fall 2016 collection:

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Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW16: Tadashi Shoji

February 13, 2016

by Dominique M. Davis

Ready-to-wear inspired by glorious tribal aesthetics, need I say more? Tadashi Shoji’s collection for Fall used triangular and geometric shapes to give way to the silhouette. The use of triangles throughout the collection added an intricate detail to each piece whether it was a part of the design pattern, placed strategically at the waistline to cinch the waist and added the appearance of an hourglass figure and/or used to accentuate the neckline; the use of shapes in this collection was well hewn. A scalloped neck and hemline with floral lace patterns added a creative and whimsical dimension to the structured and controlled design of the geometric clad collection.

Basic colors of ivory, black, pale gold, copper and violet with the use of velvet, lace, chiffon and embroidered sheer fabric brought tribal beautification to 21st century couture. Tadashi definitely slayed this collection and had the models giving me Vogue. Madonna was playing in my mind every time another garment graced the platform.

Here are my favorite pieces:

 

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Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW16: Dion Lee’s “Boyfriend Jacket Dress” and Other Obsessions

February 13, 2016

The overall feel I got from the Dion Lee collection for Fall 2016 New York Fashion Week is edgy sophistication in all of its interdependence. The best example of it is this look I am calling the “boyfriend jacket dress.”

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The cut, the color, the length of it, and the styling with these boots all merges edge and sophistication into one and requires the perfect measures of each to do so effective.

The same is true of this jacket and trousers ensemble. I am loving all the flounce in suits I am seeing on the runway this season.

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And also the volume in outerwear, such as this for which I AM LIVING.

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Finally, I am on a mission to signal the best and most original looking’s takes on the “Little Black Dress” this season. I call it my Andre Leon Talley challenge following his wonderful exhibit and book about LBDS. Here is a Dion Lee dress I think aces the test!

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-edp

 

 

 

 

Fashion, News, Runway Review

#NYFW16: KLS by Kimora Lee Simmons

February 13, 2016

It’s New York Fashion Week, folks. One of our early faves has been the latest collection from entrepreneur, model, and fashion designer, Kimora Lee Simmons. I am OBSESSED with this LBD (Little Black Dress) from the collection. I like it for work AND play. You can leave the office and go right to happy hour in this one.

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And if and LBD is a little to simple for your taste, this frock gives the same effortless chic of an LBD but does so with a color that goes both conservative but still fun, and of course the shoulder cutouts!

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I also like the cut of suit jackets and pants by Kimora Lee Simmons. This one gave me a modern Yves Saint Laurent “Le Smoking” moment …

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And then there was her elegant outwear. It looks gorgeous!

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– edp

Fashion, News, Runway Review

Yiqing Yin: Couture, Spring 2016

January 29, 2016

Chinese designer Yiqing Yin, a favorite among the haute couture set, presented her first collection as a full member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, this season. And the collection certainly showed us why. I can see each of the following three looks being worn on the red carpet. They certain should inspire a truly stylish celeb to venture away from the usual red carpet fare, and go with a name we don’t here often enough during awards season:

 

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-edp