Tuesday, October 25, 2011

what is REAL couture?

Is Ready-to-Wear the New Couture? Maybe but not really. More aspirational for rich folk but not for the richest folk. How do you say nouveau riche?

My bff makes couture but few people know this. She even does not admit it at times. She is a costumier, she executes costumes for the top BROADWAY SHOWS AND HOLLYWOOD MOVIES. I left her tonight at10.30pm cutting patterns for Jersey Boys. Rosi, proprietor of Studio Rouge, has been making couture outfits on 25th street in NYC for over 20 years. Each outfit is made to order, made to measure. From Hollywood royalty to cutomers who find her on Googles "best NYC tailor", no need to go to Paris for the real thing.
Studio Rouge meets most of the strict rules set by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. The code dictates the minimum number of employees in an atelier (20) YES and the minimum number of looks in a show (25) YES IN MOST MOVIES AND BROADWAY SHOWS, and requires that garments be hand-sewn and made to clients' measurements. ABSOLUTELY!!

From the hallowed fashion houses to bright young talents, designers are incorporating haute techniques into their regular collections

This fall, the promising young London designer Mary Katrantzou sold 18 units of her Jewel Tree dress. That might seem unremarkable until one catches a glimpse of it. Between the floral-print velvet top, padded crinoline peplum skirt and lattice of crystals and appliqued enameled roses, producing the garment required four studios (putting in more than 150 hours) and even made one seamstress cry. Next, consider that each dress cost $14,200. "These are really difficult pieces to make," said the designer from her studio in Islington.
But Ms. Katrantzou's Jewel Tree, inspired by Faberge eggs, is just one of many elaborate ready-to-wear items experiencing a life beyond the runway and magazine spreads.
As the fashion industry continues to question the relevance of the haute couture collections in a 4G-speed world, ready-to-wear designers are finding that there's increasing demand for their most exquisite and expensive pieces. The diverse list includes up-and-comers Jason Wu, Rodarte and Prabal Gurung as well as more established houses like Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney and Chanel.
Perhaps this new high-end side of ready-to-wear, referred to by many as demi-couture, is what couture looks like in the 21st century. These clothes have hefty price tags, which run from the mid-four figures into the fives, but are sold off the rack, typically through the usual retail channels. By contrast, haute couture, shown twice a year in Paris, is governed by strict rules set by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. The code dictates the minimum number of employees in an atelier (20) and the minimum number of looks in a show (25), and requires that garments be hand-sewn and made to clients' measurements.

Elaborate ready-to-wear items are experiencing a life beyond the runway and magazine spreads.
From Valentino, a hand-painted lace gown with embroidery
Jason Wu
A long-sleeve re-embroidered lace blouse and silver ostrich feather skirt by Jason Wu
Alexander McQueen
Proenza Schouler's dress in velvet, which was hand-painted and pieced together with chiffon
Azzedine Alaïa
Mary Katrantzou's Jewel Tree velvet dress with lattice and acetate flower appliques
F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal, Styling by Veronique Zanettin
But the customers who have the time to fly to Paris to sit through shows, lunch at Maxim's and visit designer ateliers for multiple fittings are few and far between these days. In contrast, pieces like Ms. Katrantzou's Jewel Tree or Ms. McCartney's damask lace and organza Pamela dress ($13,395), don't require fittings—they can be bought with a few clicks at retail website Net-a-porter.com and delivered to your door the next day.
Further evidence of the rise of halfway haute is Azzedine Alaïa's showing of what he called "semi-couture" during the fall couture season in July. This upgraded version of his ready-to-wear, which can be purchased as-is, was one of the week's highlights, eliciting superlatives all around. "It rendered me speechless," said Ikram Goldman, owner of the influential Chicago boutique Ikram, who was eager—along with stores like Barneys—to buy the collection.
Some attribute the trend, perhaps counterintuitively, to the shaky economy and to consumers wanting more bang for their buck. Matthew Williamson president Joseph Velosa reports, "Pieces over $5,000 now account for 6% of our business. To put that into context, two years ago we sold nothing at that price." He said that it could also be a reaction to the minimalist fare that has dominated the past few seasons. "Ever since 'La Crise,' designers are making sure that pieces are special," said Nicholas Mellamphy, buying director of luxe Toronto store The Room. "The customer wants value for their product. That's what the last two years have taught us."
The creation of such speciality pieces is also a way for high fashion to draw a line in the sand, placing knock-offs squarely on the other side. "Between all the designer collaborations and everything that's going on, we need to give people a reason to buy," said Mr. Wu who started using Parisian ateliers like Lemarié and Lesage, and lace mill Sophie Hallette, a few seasons ago. "There are some things that just can't be done for cheaper."
You certainly won't see the giant retail chain Zara reproducing Mr. Wu's houndstooth tweed overcoat with gold bullion embroidery ($15,000), nor for that matter Valentino's hand-painted lace gown with beaded and sequined flowers ($18,000), nor Chanel's gold sequinned prefall jacket ($23,010) that looks purloined from a Indian rajah's treasury. In fact, nearly all of the pieces in Chanel's pre-fall show qualify as demi-couture, since the collection—called Metier D'Arts—employs the traditional, highly specialized ateliers that the house bought in 2002 (Massaro for shoes, Michel for hats, Lesage for embroidery, Lemarie for feathers, Goossen for jewelry, Guillet for fabric flowers and Desrues for ornamentation).
While much of this phenomenon is about preserving tradition, technology has played a substantial role in selling these pieces. Today, clients can open their laptops and see for themselves what came down a runway. As a result, department stores such as Bergdorf Goodman get calls requesting certain pieces—often pieces they wouldn't buy otherwise. Bergdorf fashion director Linda Fargo says she sees an uptick in those calls particularly after popular shows like Alexander McQueen.
The name of the game is accessibility, with online retailers democratizing high fashion by offering five-figure dresses to women everywhere. "Our customer wants something really special that a lot of people won't have. That is very much the theme right now," said Áslaug Magnúsdóttir, CEO of the presale website Moda Operandi.
And with these kinds of prices, finding someone in the same gown at the same event is rare. "There's a customer who wants this stuff, but it's like one in each city," said Mr. Gurung, who's selling a hand-painted organza and braided chiffon gown ($15,000). "You hope to sell a lot, but five total is great."
Big brim hats are hot for fall 2011.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Goorin Bros

With all the retail negatively going around, it is delightful t see a new hat store opening.Goorin Bros continues to roll out stores nationwide. Recent additions are Boston and their second store in NYC, on the UBER trendy Bleecker street. The store is mall but quite yet perfect for a focused hat collection.
It has a retro ENGLISH feel from the outside but what really caught my attention as the Dickens like character I saw at the cash register.
The store manager's name is Evan and he puts the capital D in DANDY. He is quite the Elizabethan gentleman and knowledgeable regarding hats.
If I wore that low coachman's hat I would look like I was getting ready for Halloween but Evan just pulls it off like an old favorite baseball cap.
Evan is the koolest kat on Bleecker Street.
So check out the great selection of great hats on Bleecker street and maybe you can be as kool as Evan also.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A twist on turbans

Who know that the twist of a turban could give off so many connotations and personal statements about the wearer but then again why wouldn't they; just as European hats can say so much about their hat wearers. The difference is that European hat wearers, for the most part are indifferent to the subtle messages we send with hats. Hey, look at me, I am successful, hey look at me I am creative etc. The first hat I ever made was a turban. It was eons ago when I worked at Martin Izquierdo studio. I though it looked horrible but when the client (I think she was a stylist called Patty something or other) showed up, she loved it. That's when Marin suggested  that I go and study hat making at FIT. As as they say,"the rest is history".

  Afghan Symbol of Identity Is Subject to Search

Mikhail Galustov for The New York Times
From left: Kefayatullah, 35, of Samangan Province; Hajji Rahim Dad, 50, of Ghor Province; Amir Hussein, 45, of Bamian Province; and Hamidullah, 45, of Paktia Province.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Straight-backed, his bearing almost regal, Malik Niaz, 82, entered the Afghan president’s compound this month, proudly wearing his best turban: a silk one from Turkestan in the north of the country, gray and black and white, its long tail draped gracefully over his shoulder
He watched in disbelief as the guard asked the elder ahead of him to remove his turban and lay it on the table. Mr. Niaz, who had journeyed more than eight hours on rugged roads, shuddered.
“That made us so embarrassed, and it made me so sad,” he said. “I felt dishonored when the guard said,” he hesitated, as if even recalling the words made him upset, “ ‘undo your turban.’ ”
“I had wanted to see the president,” he added, “but after that search, I thought it would have been better if I had not come.”
The turban-searching rule at President Hamid Karzai’s presidential palace has been rigorously enforced since the assassination of the head of Afghanistan’s peace process, Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was killed by a bomb hidden in the attacker’s turban. It was the third such killing in four months, leading youths in Kabul to coin the word “Turbanator” and American soldiers to invent the new acronym TBIED, for turban-borne improvised explosive device.
The other two instances were the killing in July of Kandahar’s senior cleric as he prayed in a mosque, and a few weeks later the killing of Kandahar’s mayor.
The searches are deeply disturbing for most Afghan men, as the turban here at once signifies one’s religious faith and is a national dress — not to mention being something of a fashion statement.
Turbans are worn across the Muslim world because the Prophet Muhammad was believed to have worn one, and they are especially favored by imams and mullahs. In Afghanistan, which is a deeply pious country, usage is broader, with dozens of styles and colors. There are ones made of synthetics from Pakistan that cost about $20, silk ones from Herat that cost twice as much and ones made of more luxuriant silks from the north of Afghanistan that cost still more.
The people of southeastern Afghanistan wind the cloth large and loose so it looks as if the whole structure might topple off; Kabul residents prefer a smaller, tighter look. Those in eastern Afghanistan tuck the last bit of cloth so it sticks up out of the turban like a cockscomb, known as a “shimla,” and its size has something to do, loosely, with a person’s view of his own standing. The Taliban were known for wearing turbans made of a very soft cotton that had especially long tails and were either black or white; the former signifies that the wearer’s family members are descendants of Muhammad.
However, most turbans in Afghanistan now — and in the pre-Taliban era — are subtle grays and charcoals, deep olive greens, lighter soft greens and browns.
“I have four or five turbans,” said Hajji Mohammad Zaman Ahmadi, a 57-year-old Kabul resident who was in a bazaar to buy a white skullcap for wearing at home but had his turban on for the workday. He had just gotten a miniature turban for his 2-year-old nephew, he said.
“It is made out of the softest of our country’s wool,” he said.
Mr. Ahmadi, like Mr. Niaz, believes that bombers who use their turbans to hide explosives are committing an offense not just against Islam, but against the nation. They are trying to “defame the Afghan turbans and chase the Afghans from their ancient traditions and try to scare them into not wearing their turbans,” he said.
On the back streets of Kabul’s central bazaar, where the turbans are sold neatly folded, thin as a pamphlet and wrapped in torn pages from old glossy magazines, many turban wearers are so angry about the situation that they blame the Americans. Before their arrival, intrusive searches were unknown.
“My father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, my prophet wore a turban, and that’s why I wear it,” said an older man, looking irritable at the question, adding: “Who brought these turban bombers and turban searchers? You did,” he said angrily, referring to Westerners, which many Afghans feel are agents of the decline of the society.
Many clerics take a more contemplative view. Faith transcends costume, and a man can pray in any outfit as long as the prayer comes from the heart, but it is an honor to God to dress properly, said Abdul Raouf Nafee, the mullah at the Herati mosque in central Kabul.       
As an example, he talked about butchers: “Even if their clothes are dirty with blood, they can pray and God will accept their prayers, but it’s kind of disrespectful. God likes beauty and organization, but he will accept your prayers,” Mr. Nafee said.
Sitting on a floor cushion as he read the Koran early one morning in a small room just off his mosque’s prayer hall, Mr. Nafee wore a simple white cap. His turban was neatly prepared and waiting on a couch for the midday prayer when he would don it. A man of both poetry and pragmatism, he views the turban as a link between the holy life and people’s physical needs.
The turban, like the traditional blanket or shawl worn by men and the chador worn by women, is practical as well as religious and cultural, he said. “You are covered to keep off the dust — and now the pollution,” he said. “If you are cold, you can wrap it around you for warmth, you can sit on it, you can use it to tie an animal, a sheep or a goat, and you can use the turban’s cap to carry water.”
There is also a darker view of turban attacks: that the bombers were so distraught that their turbans’ holiness no longer mattered, and that they were forced to use any means available to take revenge on the Americans.
“Is it wrong to respond to the killings of the civilians that you do with your drones, that shoot from the air and do not even have pilots?” asked Hajji Ahmad Farid, a mullah and a conservative member of Parliament from an insurgent-dominated area of Kapisa Province, near Kabul. “Think about why a man blows himself up: Some foreign soldiers go to his house and accuse him and tie his hands and dishonor him and search his wife and his daughters, and this poor man is just watching and can do nothing.
“When a man has lost his dignity, he does not care about his shawl or his turban.”