Look at it this way: Now people can finally stop accusing Kanye West of lobbying Anna Wintour to get his fiancé, Kim Kardashian on the cover of Vogue. Apparently he has succeeded. See above, the April 2014 issue cover which hits newsstands on March 24th.
There will, inevitably, be a great deal of hand wringing over whether or not Kim Kardashian is worthy of such an honor in the fashion world. Should she be included among such celebrated figures as Oprah, Hilary Clinton, Michele Obama and Meryl Streep? We tend to take a longer view, and remind ourselves that past cover qualification has included being married to or divorced from Donald Trump, which worked for Ivana (May 1990) and Melania (February 2005) —so you know, perspective. For her part, Kim does look very pretty, and of course, Kanye is there too, as well as the big diamond ring. Fittingly, this is actually the annual "Shape" issue. If Kim is known for anything, it's her shape, which is decidedly un-fashion model-like, and therefore refresing to see on the cover of Vogue. There's, a couple of other things she's famous for too, but let's not ruin her moment. The cover also includes a 27-character hashtag, #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple, which is perhaps not the most practical hashtag they could have dreamed up for what should have seemed to be obvious reasons. Presumably, The Internet will have a lot to say about this startling event, so let this be your warning to hunt down those websites that foster such heated discussions, or, better yet avoid them altogether.
Vanessa Friedman Will Replace Both Cathy Horyn and Suzy Menkes
At The New York Times
At The New York Times
In a surprising but sensible move, the New York Times has hired Vanessa Friedman, currently the fashion editor at the Financial Times to be fashion director and chief fashion critic combining the responsibilities of both Cathy Horyn and Suzy Menkes. Their recent departures left The Times' bench of fashion reporters a bit thin going into a solid month of international runway shows this season. Menkes, whose responsibilities covered the International New York Times (formerly the International Herald Tribune) left to join Condé Nast International, and Horyn, who was the Times' chief fashion critic, left to care for her ailing partner, the fashion executive Arthur Ortenberg. When Mr. Ortenberg sadly passed away within days of Horyn's announced departure, there may have been an idea that she might have been asked to return, but she, apparently, will be pursuing other projects including a book she has continued to work on in conjunction with the Times. In other news, one of our Critical Shoppers Alexandra Jacobs has been promoted to fashion critic and fashion features writer. How that will affect the Thursday Styles' Critical Shopper column, if at all, remains to be seen.
As for Friedman, she was the Financial Times' first fashion editor and has been there since 2003. She will begin at the Times next month. With her combine duties, the domestic and international editions of the Times will now, presumably, both carry Friedman's writing as opposed to having Menkes' reviews in one edition and Horyn's in the other. As far as we know there are no designers who violently detest Friedman —yet— so we can probably expect full, snub-free Fashion Week coverage, for now anyway.
In a move that has startled New York's fashion and media circles, The New York Times' chief fashion critic Cathy Horyn (pictured at right) has chosen to resign her position. A note to the newsroom from executive editor Jill Abramson and Stuart Emmrich, editor of the Styles sections, indicated that she is leaving to spend more time with her partner Art Ortenberg who is in poor health. Horyn has been at the Times since 1998, taking her most recent position in 1999. Her tenure has not been without controversy. Though her writing has been acclaimed, she has also ruffled some very prominent feathers including Giorgio Armani, who disinvited her from his shows for a couple of seasons, and Hedi Slimane who has made a point of banning her from his Saint Laurent shows. Most recently she experienced a contretemps with the usually good natured Oscar de la Renta over a review which required a subsequent rapprochement between the two prominent fashion figures. That is not to say she is universally disliked. She was awarded the Eugenia Sheppard Award from the CFDA in 2002 for her fashion coverage.
Her departure leaves the Times without its two most well-known fashion writers with only seven days to go before Fashion Week begins. Along with Horyn, Eric Wilson left the Times a few months ago for an editorial position at InStyle magazine, which means that the next month or so of Fall 2014 runway collections will be covered by a relatively new team of writers, including few who have the experience or influence of either Horyn or Wilson (though we expect to see a few more bylines than usual from Times veterans Ruth La Ferla and Guy Trebay).
A note to the Times: Robin Givhan appears to be available.
Get on that!
Now that she has raised about $125 million over the past 20 years or so, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has named the newly renovated space that holds The Costume Institute after Condé Nast Creative Director, Vogue Editor-in-Chief and famous bob-wearer Anna Wintour (pictured left). After a two-year renovation, the section of the museum that houses the department will be renamed the Anna Wintour Costume Center, and the new name will appear above the staircase leading to the department when it reopens this Spring with the exhibition, Charles james: Beyond Fashion. While the name of the curatorial department itself will remain The Costume Institute, Ms. Wintour's name will grace nearly all of its facilities including the newly expanded 4,2000 square foot main showcase, the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery, the Carl and Iris Barrel Apfel Gallery, The Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library, and newly upgraded conservation laboratory and storage facility that holds the recently combined costume collections of the Met and the Brooklyn Museum —so her name will be an umbrella of sorts under which some other important patron's names will fall as well.
Having co-chaired 15 of the museum's annual Costume Institute benefits since 1995, and turned an already highly prominent fundraiser into one of the most glamorous and widely covered (as well as lucrative) media events anywhere, Ms. Wintour has more than earned a permanent tribute from the museum where she has been a trustee since 1999. The famously controversial editor has helped connect the Costume Institute with sponsors for special exhibition and funding for many projects like the recent renovations, and now joins the ranks of other patrons whose names are indelibly etched on the walls of one of the world's greatest art institutions. Much will likely be made of this development in May by Ms. Wintour's admirers and detractors when the next gala takes place this May, but whatever your opinion of her as a fashion and media figure may be, it's tough to argue that she hasn't had a lasting and beneficial effect on the museum.
Barneys really stepped in it this week.
In case you haven't heard, he luxury department store is in the middle of a racial profiling scandal that seems at once appalling and also familiar to anyone who has ever worked in such an establishment.
The story broke on Tuesday that, after purchasing a $350 Ferragamo belt at Barneys' Madison Avenue store, a young, black gentleman named Trayon Christian was detained by undercover police who released him only after he proved that he had legitimately purchased item. A lawsuit against both Barneys and the NYPD followed, the filing of which appears to have sparked the firestorm of publicity.
Within 24 hours, another young black woman, Kayla Phillips of Brooklyn reported a similar story of purchasing a coveted $2,500 Céline handbag from the store and subsequently being accosted by undercover police in the nearby subway station who demanded identification and grilled her about details of the sale which they could only have known from communicating with Barneys staff. She will be suing too.
Obviously, New York's tabloids have been having a field day with the story this week. Interestingly, The New York Times' coverage has been minimal at best. Barneys has immediately shifted to damage control mode, using its Facebook page to issue two statements in two days, initially denying a specific role in the incidents and thus attempting to shift the blame to the Police, and then, yesterday evening, releasing a more apologetic statement from the store's CEO, Mark Lee, promising to work with Civil Rights experts and community leaders to review, and presumably improve security and customer service issues
The latest, inevitable twist has the store's highly touted Holiday promotion with Jay Z called into question with a Change.org petition calling for the star to end his partnership with the store that, as of this posting, has 1,664 supporters.
So far Jay Z has not responded.
Now that the scandal has reached the national news level, you can expect it to hang around for a while. Barneys executives are set to meet next week with local civil rights leaders, and social media is currently amplifying the issue and will continue to do so for the foreseeable news cycle. Here are a few things to know about this sort of situation from someone who has worked under the roof, not of Barneys, but other very similar types of establishments in New York.
There are undercover cops in every department store in the city.
The biggest ones like Macy's and Saks probably have more than one on the premises at any given moment that the store is open.
In addition, many of the security personnel in such stores are often retired Police officers.
Modern department store security cameras can follow customers through the premises from the moment they walk inside with little or no break. More often than not, any sort of confrontation involving security, police and a potential shoplifter or fraud are set in motion by security staff, not, as many assume, sale staff.
And finally, complicating the obvious race issues raised by Barneys' current scandal, store security or "Loss Prevention" teams, as they like to be called, in such establishments are typically quite diverse. You shouldn't necessarily assume that it is white security personnel who are profiling black customers.
Make of all this what you will.
There will surely be much more of this story to come.
Here's something to get outraged about now that we are all sick to death of hearing about Miley Cyrus.
The history of Fashion is full of struggles with taste issues as style evolves. Are skirts too short? Are transparent clothes too vulgar? Are leggings too revealing? Do some kids wear their trousers too low? is visible underwear socially acceptable? Today, the debate took a left turn away from issues regarding body exposure to more cerebral concerns of mental health and drug addiction. This morning, "Today" show viewers were apprised of the latest exclusive line of T-shirts by designer Brian Lichtenberg for the Los Angeles boutique chain Kitson featuring the names of some of the most addictive prescription drugs emblazoned on football-style jerseys in an advertisement featuring the tag line "Just What the Docto℞ Ordered" (pictured above).
While that was going on, WWD readers who were not invited to the Betsey Johnson show at fashion week discovered that, this season, the designer decided to send out invitations in the form of a prescription pill bottle —filled with breath mints, one must add. The designer called her upcoming collection “a prescription for dressing,” and told WWD, “I have to take credit for the idea. I think getting a bottle of pills is just funny.” Apparently, the designer was not pressed with the question of whether that idea might be offensive to some.
Do you have to be a militantly sober person to find this surprising new mini-trend offensive? Consider that the fashion industry has had an uneasy relationship with substance addiction behind the scenes, with designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein and, most recently, John Galliano serving as just a few highly public examples. For the moment, Johnson still seems to think she made a funny joke. Kitson and Lichtenberg's T-shirts, however, have been the subject of an online furor recently, which may have prompted the store to add the notice that a portion of proceeds from sales of the shirts would be donated to The Medicine Abuse Project, an organization dedicated to preventing prescription drug abuse among teens. Lichtenberg calls the tees "a parody of pop culture", and a commentary on society, but the fact that he sees prescription drugs as a part of pop culture and not health care may be part of the problem. Of course, that particular point will probably be lost when you see someone swanning down Robertson Boulevard in an Adderall jersey, not to mention the possibility that selling T-shirts that ostensibly promote prescription medicine may not be the most constructive way to support an addiction prevention organization. "Today" reported that some prescription drug companies are considering legal action, as these drug names are trademarked brands.
Make of all this what you will, but expect to hear more about it in the immediate future. At the risk of putting on our prissy Schoolmarm Hat, we don't know exactly where the line is for these matters of taste, but we are pretty sure that these things have gone way over it.
In this week's Thursday Styles, Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica finds his way to a store so low key and deliberately innocuous that it is located on a street that is literally an afterthought.
Were we supposed to be familiar with a half-block long street called Extra Place on East 1st street? Probably not, which is why Inventory magazine chose to put its store there.
It should be said that there is no bliss in nostalgia, no sense in craving a better-designed past. Inventory’s choices are about streamlining, not looking backward...
The store carries "designers who have made careful choices and stuck by them", so rather than flashy editor's darlings, our shopper finds meticulously designed Japanese labels and some American and European ones that share the same detail obsessed sensibility, leaving him with the question of what to do after you have found the ultimate?
The quest would be over; you’d have somewhere to shop for time eternal. Pick up your essential pieces. Hit send on the column. Drop the microphone.
Where’s the fun in that, though?
Critical Shopper: Inventory Makes All the Right Choices for You By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Inventory 12 Extra Place off East 1st Street between Bowery & Second Avenue, East Village
You may have already read the big Vanity Fair interview, but now disgraced couturier John Galliano has done his big TV interview about the highly public breakdown that got him booted from his job as creative director at both Christian Dior and the label that bears his own name. In the absence of Oprah's vast platform, Galliano taped an interview with Charlie Rose which aired last night on PBS stations. You could be forgiven for missing it, as the entire taping and airing happened within a couple of days, but along with clips on YouTube, the entire show is steaming on Rose's website HERE.
Galliano rehashes much of what he went over with Ingrid Sischy in Vanity Fair, but the most striking aspect may be that, for the first time in the decades since he has become a well-known designer, he made a public appearance unencumbered by the flamboyant personal style that helped to make him an unmistakable figure in the fashion world. He was sober, not only physically, but sartorially as well. Gone were the hair extensions, the sculpted facial hair and elaborately embellished garments he is known for wearing. Galliano sat clean shaved, with his hair tidily pulled back in a low ponytail and wearing the most mundane navy blue jacket and simple light blue dress shirt without so much as a pocket square to recall his usual flair. If you ever wondered what this guy really looked like under all that costume, then here you are. Is this the debut of a new, stripped down Galliano style? Maybe, but it is more likely that he is trying to make as favorable an impression as possible on the public at large not only in America, but worldwide, where this interview will inevitably be seen in one format or another. It's hard to imagine that he would give up his dramatic personal style permanently, but you can't blame him for wanting people to see him as a normal human being instead of the scarf-swathed weirdo who spewed drunken, hateful statements in the much circulated videos that led to his downfall —an excerpt of which Rose showed just in case anyone had missed them the first time around.
Will it all work? In transforming his appearance, Galliano seems to be signalling that he will go well out of his way to show that he is not some fashion feak, but a real person who is capable of personal growth. While many Jewish leaders have emphasized an obligation to accept sincere apologies and efforts to improve oneself, others have been less forgiving, and students at Parsons School of Design recently made it clear that he was not welcome there to teach a master class similar to one that had been well received at Central St. Martins College of Art & design in London. The designer seems ready to get back to work, but ultimately it will be up to the retailers who will carry the products he will eventually offer and their customers to decide if they are ready to have him back.
John Galliano Interview (The Charlie Rose Show)
After the jump, see John Galliano apologize again
You would love to have the same, smooth, youthful skin as a genetically enhanced superhero who has survived decades of being frozen in an arctic iceberg with barely the slightest wrinkle on his brow. Never mind that he is a fictional character who never ages, Kiehl's has engaged Captain America himself to help launch its latest product, Facial Fuel “Heavy Lifting” Firming, Lifting, Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizer for Men ($40).Yes, at some point in the future, our attention will be completely monopolized by Superheores. Kiehl's is just getting a jump on things.
While the Kiehl's brand has a remarkably high proportion of male customers already, many American men are still resistant to skincare that goes beyond soap and water —even one that has been created specifically to treat their thicker, rougher skin like this one. Starting today, every Kiehl's purchase will include a special limited edition comic book, "Captain America: Transformation & Triumph" (pictured above) created with Marvel Custom Solutions that features 12 pages of Cap battling his classic foe Cobra at Kiehl's original East Village store, while supplies last, of course (Read it online HERE). In addition, you will likely be seeing images of Captain America all over Kiehl's counters in department stores this summer. Whether or not this marketing partnership will get the Comic-Con crowd to venture into the cosmetics department remains to be seen. They have not, after all, been known for their fastidious grooming practices, but perhaps Captain America can change all that, which might be a superhero-sized accomplishment itself.
Your move, Superman.
Kiehl's (Official Site)
Now that we are pretty much finished with the epic "Gatsby" hype, it's on to the next summer blockbuster. Warner Bros.' Superman reboot "Man of Steel" opens in a couple of weeks or so, and we can all expect the promotional frenzy to start ramping up right about now. While most of the films marketing is aimed at traditional superhero-themed product like action figures, t-shirts and the like, the film has looked beyond the Comic-Con crowd by teaming up with burgeoning eyewear brand Warby Parker to offer two styles of eyeglass frames for men and women inspired not so much by Superman, but by his mild mannered alter ego, Clark Kent. The squared-off Chamberlain and more rounded Percey models are suitably classic (though interestingly not made of steel at all) and feature discreet slices of color at the temples that reference the colors of Superman's classic costume (both pictured above). Like most of the brand's other frames they are available through the brand's website as well as, presumably, at its new SoHo flagship for $95 each including prescription lenses. As per company policy, Warby Parker continues to donate a pair of glasses to someone in need for each frame of any kind it sells, but for these two limited edition styles, the company will also add to that an additional $15 donation to 826NCY, a not-for-profit organization that helps students from age 6 to age 18 to develop their writing skills —so perhaps they too can one day write for the Daily Planet even if they don't happen to have a secret, superpowered sideline in heroics.
Warby Parker x Man Of Steel (Official Site)