The Right Place At The Right Time:

A Model Moment At Barneys

All weather reports suggested that The Shophound should have stayed inside today, but instead we decided that it was as good a day as any to hit the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute exhibit "The Model As Muse" (more on that later). Afterward, we took advantage of a lull in the storm to saunter down Madison Avenue, and found ourselves ducking into Barneys to dodge an impending downpour. We could never have known that we would stumble onto a better Model Moment than anything the Met had to offer: Catherine McNeil in a black Lanvin cocktail dress and feathered headpiece, holding a small falcon and being photographed by none other than Terry Richardson.
It's not unusual to find location shoots all around the city, but we usually don't happen upon them on the main floor of Barneys on a Thursday afternoon.
Naturally, we watched the entire slightly surreal event as the willowy McNeil gamely posed with her bird, unfazed by the growing crowd of onlookers whilst occasionally being adjusted by various stylists and bird wranglers. The budding supermodel demonstrated the significance of her craft far better than a museum exhibition ever could. The whole thing ended with the kind of climactic "Yes! Yes! Gorgeous!" bellowing coming from Richardson that we thought only happened on TV show photo shoots.
Thanks to modern technology, the various onlookers took their own pictures, discreetly at first, and then blatantly like... well, like us.
Now that's worth venturing out in the rain for, no?

Window Report:

Bergdorf Goodman Salutes
The Met's Model Muses

If you couldn't make it to last night's Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you can at least stop by Fifth Avenue to catch a view of Bergdorf Goodman's latest set of windows. This week, they are inspired by the Met's new exhibit, The Model As Muse, and feature clever recreations of famous fashion photographs. There's a nod to Cecil Beaton's deco ballgowns, a mod moment with Twiggy by Bert Stern, Peter Lindbergh's troop of Chanel clad Supermodel biker chicks, and even a recreation of Richard Avedon's iconic "Dovima With Elephants" using a pair of giraffes as stand-ins. We particularly liked the mirror effect created by Steven Meisel's famous shot of a peroxided Linda Evangelista for a Dolce & Gabbana advertisement (though the actual dress in the window is by someone else!).
The windows were just being finished as we write this, so you probably have couple of weeks to see them, and the Costume Institute exhibit runs until August 9th.
As for the Party of the Year, we're still waiting on the pictures from, but Cathy Horyn's blog for the Times tells us of a last minute kerfuffle with a miffed Azzedine Alaïa, who created several dresses for models to wear to the party, but was not invited himself! As a result Alaïa muses and devotées Naomi Campbell and Stephanie Seymour say they're boycotting the party, which leaves the ranks of actual Supermodels a little thin.
Really, if RuPaul isn't there, then what's the point anyway?
Alaïa Pulls His Dresses From the Met Gala (On The Runway)

Click images for a larger view in a new window.

Multiple Mannequins:

Do 9 Models Equal 1 Celebrity?

So Vogue's cover for May 2009 has finally been released.
Those who concern themselves with such things have been speculating for weeks over which models would be chosen for the honor of participating in the magazine's rare foray into non-celebrity covers, styled to coordinate with the Costume Institute's big summer exhibition at the Metroploitan Museum of Art on the Supermodel Era. It must say something unfortunate about the state of fashion magazines that in order to have the latest models on the cover, they have to appear as a team. With the exception of the occasional Linda Evangelita or Christy Turlington cover, hardly any models have been allowed to grace the U.S. Vogue's front by themselves in the last decade. Next month's group of lucky winners feature a mix of veterans and newer girls including Liya Kebede, Anna Jagodzinska and Natalia Vodianova, who cuddle under the logo, and Isabeli Fontana, Lara Stone, Jourdan Dunn, Raquel Zimmerman, Caroline Trentini and Natasha Poly on the fold-out.
It's kind of surprising that even Fashion's most powerful editor, Anna Wintour, is still forced to submit to the tyranny of the celebrity cover, although with every magazine's revenues falling, now would hardly seem a likely time to buck convention.
Or is it? Shouldn't the increasingly freakish looking Nicole Kidman's covers be going to the gorgeous Anna Jagodzinska, all by hersef?
It's almost funny to think that a couple of decades ago, Vogue used to pride itself on launching unkown models by putting them on the cover before anyone else had ever heard of them. Wouldn't it be nice to see a return to that?

Milan Model Update:

New York Magazine
Counts The Models

Nymagmodels Over at New York Magazine's fashion blog The Cut, they have done a comprehensive survey of the racial diversity of Milan's model lineups —kind of like what we did last season, except we were to lazy to go through all that counting again so we can't complain.
Anyway, they came to basically the same conclusion that we did a few days ago which is that Italian designers as a group don't seem to think much of black models.
Out of 29 shows in their breakdowns, they found 8 with all white casts. It's worth mentioning that they classified models as White, Black, Asian and Latina, which complicated things a bit. Categorizing white Brazilian and Spanish born models as Latina did not sit well with most of their commenters. Knowing a models actual nationality and ethnic descent can make things murky. Is blond Brazilian Raquel Zimmerman a Latina in this context?
We don't think so, and, more importantly, we don't think the industry does either. If she reads as white on the runway and in photographs, and she surely does, then white she is for our purposes.
Models are essentially silent, and for all intents and purposes, how they look is what they represent ethnically regardless of where they were born. 90's Supermodel Yasmeen Ghauri was born in Canada, but to the world, she was considered at least part Indian. The Cut considers Bangalore-born Lakshmi Menon Asian, which is technically correct, but she certainly represents a different part of the planet than, say,  Liu Wen or Tao Okamoto —practically singlehandedly, we might add.
Before we sound too race obsessed (and anyone who is so inclined coould probably spend days parsing the various ethnic descents of models), let's reiterate the point here: Milan's record here basically stinks, and thanks to The Cut for giving us the cold (if slightly flawed) statistics.
Why Were Milan’s Runways So Whitewashed? (The Cut)

Model Diversity Update

Milan Welcomes Whitey Back

And we were doing so well.
A cursory observation would show that black models who have improved their visibility on the runway in New York hit a roadblock in Milan. Our statistics come from which routinely identifies models' names in its show coverage. Ironically, the home of Italian Vogue, which highlighted the topic with its "Black Issue" last year, has not been hospitable to models of color. Once again, Prada, arguably the city's most influential label, put on a show without a single black model, along with Jil Sander and Ferré. The two most popular black models, Jourdan Dunn and Chanel Iman have done a respective 7 and 5 shows in Milan so far compared to at least 20 and 11 shows in New York. Sessilee Lopez appears not to have done a single show in Milan, after around 20 in New York, making us wonder if she even made the trip there at all. Similarly other emerging faces like Georgie Badiel, Kinée Diouf and Aminata Niaria who were busy in New York were conspicuously absent, and Gracie Carvalho has made only a single trip down a runway at Albino. New star Arlenis Sosa has done only Bottega Veneta and Blumarine's shows. Inadian born Lakshmi Menon has done only Etro and Blumarine, and even Giorgio Armani put on an uncharacteristically all-white show.
Asian models have fared somewhat better, with the sleekly bobbed favorite Tao Okamoto doing 8 shows so far.
We hope that things will improve in Paris where Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood and Givenchy have been far more broad in their casting choices, but on the diversity front, Milan has been a disappointment where several journalists have been commenting that the relentless parade of nondescript eastern European teenagers is draining shows of much needed excitement.
On the very last day of Milan's shows, Aminata Niaria made it down the runway twice at Fendi. It was her only major Milanese show. We don't know if it was an arranged exclusive or if it was the only house that was interested in her, but a nod from Fendi creative director Karl Lagerfeld is an immeasurable boost for any model. Perhaps we will see more of her in Paris. The show also included an appearance by curvy former Calvin Klein muse Jessica Miller. Perhaps things are moving in s healthier direction in general when it comes to models.

New York Fashion Week Day 7:

One Foot In Front Of The Other
With Brian Reyes, PHI,
Rebecca Taylor & Ports 1961

Brianreyesfw09 We simply do not know the true cause of the epidemic of falling models this season, but it seems the girls have learned to deal by simply stopping to remove their shoes before something worse happens. We can imagine the look of horror that must have passed over BRIAN REYES' face backstage on Thursday morning as model after model unshod herself mid-walk. He made the most of it by sending every girl out barefoot for the finale, but it was hell on the pacing of his show. We don't know what the great challenge was with the pumps Manolo Blahnik made for Reyes. Though certainly high and pointy, they lacked the vertiginous platforms that would appear to have foiled most of this week's tumblers. Our best guess is that they were just too big for most of the girls, and they were literally stepping out of them.
It's too bad that the shoe issue was such a distraction. Reyes had a light hand for Fall –so light it sometimes looked like Spring– but he offered a subdued, tailored alternative to the current rash of bold '80s looks, without looking out of step.
There were no wobbly walkers at PHI. As usual, designer Andreas Melbostad gathered the cream of the available models in the burgeoning brand's showroom. If the bolder side of the '80s is the order of the day, then here is an excellent place to start. Melbostad tends to alternate each season from looser shapes to form fitting ones, and if it's fall, it must be tight and sexy. There were zips and hardware aplenty, but softened with rich mixes of fabrics, furs and embroidery, often cinched with a wide triple buckle belt. The collection trod comfortable ground for PHI, but it was executed and presented with energy. When the trends fall directly on your sweet spot, it would be foolish to ignore them, and we know for a fact that there are no fools at PHI.
Next, at REBECCA TAYLOR, most of the commotion was caused by Tori Spelling, and a camera crew which may have been her own. TorispellingloniloveSpelling joined Mena Suvari, Stacy London and a Kardashian in Celebrity Row. Taylor's stock in trade is flirty but not cloying, and for Fall she tempered it it with animal prints and added shine with studs instead of satin. Like most designers this season, Taylor is judiciously not looking for new directions, but instead refining and editing what she does best, as if to reassure loyal customers that she can be relied upon. It may be safe, but it is bringing out the best in many labels, and pushing them back to their roots.
PORTS 1961
has become an increasingly hot ticket. Designer Tia Cibani's productions have become can't miss events. Redbarattports This time, noting her Indian Mughal inspiration tis season, she had "dhol'n'brass" band Red Baraat Festival! provide live Bhangra rhythms. Anna Wintour was in her seat between waiting at 3:05, and the seats were fully filled by 3:15. There was only a smattering of open spots for lucky standing roomers, and the models were walking by 3:20, a shockingly timely start by Fashion Week standards, Marc Jacobs' newly maniacal punctuality notwithstanding. In a season of bold color, Cibani sent out some of the most vibrant and opulent, and only occasionally veered a bit too far into the sari shop.

More details after the jump

Continue reading "New York Fashion Week Day 7:

One Foot In Front Of The Other
With Brian Reyes, PHI,
Rebecca Taylor & Ports 1961
" »

New York Fashion Week Weekend Edition Part II:

Non-Lazy Sunday With Lela Rose,
Hervé Léger, Akiko Ogawa & Tuleh

What can we say? The main tent activity has been a little lacking so far this season. The Viactiv giveaway was as close as we have gotten to free snacking so far. There are no cloyingly sweet cookies from DHL, and last season's Lu Petit Écolier cookies are nowhere to be seen. We practically lived on those things last time around. Perhaps things will perk up later in the week, 'cause we get hungry. In our malnourished stupor, we are treated to a survey of Barbie through the years as we wait to get into the shows, so we have shared that with  you to compare and contrast. Which Barbie did you play with... or steal from you sister and render bald?
And yes, we are way behind in the age of liveblogging, but let's cover Sunday quickly.
LelaroseFW09 Our day began with LELA ROSE in her usual Sunday Morning opener slot. This show regularly pulls in lots of clients in their own Roses, and Lela has developed a devoted cult, including fellow Texans from Neiman Marcus who were there in force along with their Yankee Bergdorf cousins. Rose has developed a recognizable sense of proportion and detail, and her layered petal shaped tiers have become a signature. This time she focused more on sportier looks but her cocktail styles were the crowd favorites. Her front row lineup included former American Idol Kellie Pickler, her hair tamed from the previous day, in a blue satin one shouldered sheath from Rose. She looked adorable and would have been perfectly turned out for cocktails at 6. It was however a bit much for the brunch hour, but as we will see later on at HERVÉ LÉGER, time of day has no bearing when you are being styled for the front row.
HervelegerFW09 The Léger Show, unfortunately has gotten more press for the fact that not one but two models ate the runway than for the actual clothes (Jezebel has a detailed report here). We're not quite sure why this rash of tumbling models continues. The one time Naomi Campbell fell down on Vivienne Westwood's runway was a scandal that resonated for years afterward. Did anyone ever hear of Cindy Crawford or Linda Evangelista or Christy Turlington falling down? No. We don't think they or any of their fellow supermodels ever did. Maybe it's the fact that some of these girls are too young to be expected to walk with finesse in any shoes. Léger's tumblers are 15 and 17 years old. Maybe it's the fact that these models are being put into shoes so absurdly exaggerated that nobody should ever be asked to walk in them.
Aside from the runway incidents, our main question was whether or not Max Azria would be able to keep the classic Léger bandage dress looking fresh, and to our surprise, he succeeded in adding all sorts of treatments and embellishments to keep the tight, stretchy dresses appealing. Many have detected a Balmain influence, and we wouldn't argue otherwise. Azria's celebrity row included a gaggle of starlets poured into bandage sheaths led by Lucy Liu, a cut above the boilerplate fashion show B-listers we have come to expect, and January Jones, looking very un-Betty Draper.
The we skipped a few shows. Thuy, we're sorry, but we have a shred of sanity left to protect.
We reserved energy for our evening shows, starting with AKIKO OGAWA. This is usually a fun show with over-the-top styling.Akikoogawaamosphere This time, Ogawa filled the tent with blue mist to create an interesting atmospheric effect, but by 6:30, we had been sitting in it for over a half an hour. Our eyes were beginning to burn and the rest of the room was groaning.  On the plus side, the lovely people at Seventh House put us in the second row, a perfect vantage point. See, no heads covering the feet in our pictures. The collection had a Rick Owens meets Tinkerbell vibe, and once the smoke literally cleared, it was quite enjoyable. We noticed that a few of the girls sported black combat boots instead of the immense platform wedges, and then we realized that they were actually boys. That was the best way to differentiate the smatering of menswear looks in the show.
Next we speedwalked down to the Roubini Casa showroom in the New York Design Center on Lexington Avenue for TULEH. We got there just in time to catch Gossip Girl's Kelly Rutherford swan in dressed in full, soignée Lily Van Der Woodsen Bass mode.
We miss the convenience of seeing Tuleh in the tents, especially at 7 in the evening, but we have to admit that a spacious design showroom filled with carpets and ornate furniture couldn't have made for a better setting for the typically refined collection. Tulehatmosphere The models snaked their way through the room, and seating was arranged so that nearly everyone was in the front row, or the second at the very worst. We can't help liking a show that opens with Sessilee Lopez, and for Fall, designer Bryan Bradley stuck with what he does best, the luxurious fanciful classics that his loyal customers expect. Anyone expecting luxury designers to reign in the opulence this season have missed the point. Bradley understands that the best way to retain his customers is to make his products as irresistibly appealing as possible, so he stuck to his label's signatures like extravagant fabrics and classically feminine silhouettes. His client-heavy audience got the message and appreciated it.
Our next show was E.J. Wada in the tents at 9PM. On Sunday.
We call this the death slot, partly because people like us often ditch it. And we did. As much as we like to see a new designer, our apologies go out to E.J. Wada. We have our limits, after all.

More details and pictures after the jump

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Non-Lazy Sunday With Lela Rose,
Hervé Léger, Akiko Ogawa & Tuleh
" »

Milan Menswear Report:

Runways Still Looking Pale In Milan

600-models While we are just getting ready for Fall 2009 Fashion Week here in New York, Menswear shows have been well under way in Milan since last weekend. Last season, The Shophound paid extra attention to how minorities have been faring on the runways. While we plan to continue that sidebar, The New York Times' Guy Trebay weighed in this week on minority representation in the current round of shows in Milan, and found it disappointingly lacking, particularly in light of Italian Vogue's highly touted Black Issue last fall.
Where to lay blame appears to be in question, as designers claim that agents aren't sending them enough diverse models, and agents claim that they are sending out models of color who aren't getting hired. It sounds like a Catch-22 of apathy, with few designers willing to take a chance on even a few black male models, and standardbearers like Gucci and Prada continuing to present all-white, minority free shows. Trebay writes:

In an e-mail message, George Brown, an owner of the New York modeling agency Red, pointed out that, while he had flown some of his more promising black models — Shawn Sutton, Wendell Lissimore and Dominique Hollington—to Milan this season, the outcome has been dispiriting.“They had some amazing options, options I’d never seen before on black guys,” said Mr. Brown, referring to the industry practice of placing certain models on hold in advance of casting calls. Mr. Brown’s excitement at the prospect of black men appearing in the lineups at Jil Sander or Prada proved short-lived. “The options fell off and we found the same line-up of white guys doing all the major shows.”

Interestingly, as with the women's shows, it is the older generation of designers who are most likely to present a diverse model cast. It was at Versace and Giorgio Armani, who is probably the oldest designer to retain creative control at an Italian fashion house, where Trebay found anything close to a diversity of models. A quick glance at Men.Style.Com's runway reports bears this out.
We are betting that the Obama effect works to models' advantage in New York at the very least, and hopefully may have some influence on the European Women's shows that follow.
We're still watching.
Fashion Diary: In Milan, Models Still Come in Only One Color By Guy Trebay (NYTimes)

Fashion Exhibition News:

The Costume Institute Focuses
On Models For 2009

VeruschkaTime to pull out those Christy Turlington mannequins.
The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art has taken a crowd-pleasing turn in its choice of subjects lately (Superheroes anyone?), and next year's centerpiece promises to follow that pattern. Instead of focusing on clothes, next year's summer exhibition will be a tribute to those who show them off, the Models.
Some may forget that well before the Supermodel Era of the '80s and '90s there were still a few models at any given moment who transcended their medium and became celebrities in their own right like Twiggy, Veruschka (pictured right), Cheryl Tiegs and Iman.
"The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion," will run from May 6th through October 9th and will feature 70 looks as well as an abundance of photography and probably more video than any exhibit at the Met has ever used (If they leave out George Michael's video for Freedom '90, they lose all credibility).
Harold Koda, curator in charge of The Costume Institute tells WWD, "In every period, high fashion is presented and made desirable by a handful of models who capture in their beauty the ideals of the day. ...There are certain images in every era which tend to fix an aesthetic ideal in the popular imagination. In its own time, it has the possibility of motivating a trend, but after that, it becomes our idea of that period, like Dovima and the elephant, or the famous [Richard] Avedon photograph of Suzy Parker in Chanel."
Turlington was such an iconic presence during her heyday (which seems to have no end) that the Costume Institute exclusively commissioned a set of the aforementioned mannequins based on her face. Expect to see those featured prominently in the show.
Marc Jacobs will be underwriting the show and will be the honorary chair for the Gala on May 4th along with Anna Wintour and Vogue, Justin Timberlake, and that ultimate model muse, Kate Moss. It practically goes without saying that this party will be a Supermodel extravaganza the likes of which nobody has seen since the mid '90s.
Where do we sign up?
The Costume Institute Looks at the Model as Muse (WWD)
And as an extra bonus:
That George Michael video featuring Linda, Cindy, Christy, Naomi at the peak of their fame courtesy of the newly launched MTV Music website

Oh, and here's "Too Funky" with Nadja and Tyra in a Thierry Mugler runway show featuring at least two outfits from the recent "Superheroes" exhibit.

UPDATED Diversity Report Redux:

Paris Looks Pale

And we're still counting.
It's somewhere near the middle of Paris Fashion Week, and we're still looking to see if designers still have a tin ear to the issue of minority models, or rather the lack thereof on runways.
As we have said, this is a purely unscientific survey, where we try to focus on the higher profile designer's shows to see if things are progressing in a more diverse direction.
Again, we're not in Paris, but relying on mainly because they are thorough in identifying most of the models in each show, making it easier to tell who is whom when there are elaborate hair and makeup styles in effect.
As far as progress goes, things seem to be moving at a glacial pace in the City of Lights so far. For all the Vivienne Westwoods and Jean-Paul Gaultiers whose runway casts are abundantly diverse, there remain a surprising number of labels like Balenciaga, Balmain, Nina Ricci and Rick Owens who scored big fat zeros, employing not a single minority face on their catwalks. As usual, most of the minority cast slots have gone to Chanel Iman and Jourdan Dunn, with Arlenis Sosa and comeback kid Sessilee Lopez close behind.
It's not to say that the Balenciaga show didn't look fantastic and we wouldn't have loved to see it in person, but it's disappointing at this point that Nicholas Ghesquiere doesn't seem willing to see or show his work on a more varied group. We won't go so far as to accuse these designers of willful exclusion, but at the very least, there still appears to be a pattern of exclusion by apathy, or just plain insensitivity. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the all-white cast at Yohji Yamamoto, a Japanese designer.
There are still plenty of shows to come including Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano and Louis Vuitton.
We will try and keep the list updated as the week goes on.
UPDATED for 10/2:
No zeroes today, but many shows with a single token girl, including Givenchy. This was surprising as Designer Riccardo Tisci opened his last couture show with three minority models, but this time only included Lakshmi Menon, his current campaign star, in a single look.

Same as above. YSL, Celine, Giambattista Valli & Stella McCartney added. Wouldn't we like to see someone else crack the 10% ceiling? We won't today.
Today's booby prize goes to Chanel. Valentino goes with a token, but Alessandra Facchinetti has other things to worry about, and McQueen almost hits 10%.

The season's winner has to be Jean Paul Gaultier who again used an abundance of minority models at Hermès. that's two shows this week with a quotient of over 20%
Well, we're done counting, and we may be leaving this issue for awhile. Today we added Lanvin, Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu. There were no big surprises. It's been interesting, and now we know all the models' names. There were some designers who were heroes and others who were disappointing.
At the end, it's hard to believe that when hiring as many as 30 or in some cases 50 models, some designers can't seem to find more than one minority model (if that) who "fits their vision", while others can find five, six or seven.

A full rundown of the major Paris shows after the jump:

Continue reading "UPDATED Diversity Report Redux:

Paris Looks Pale" »