Saturday, November 16, 2013

Alexander Wang Initially Turned Down Balenciaga

In the latest issue of Vogue, Mark Holgate follows the young urban designer turned creative director of Balenciaga as he fills in the enormous shoes left behind by Nicolas Ghesquière in Paris, where Wang now lives. In the piece, Wang jokes about learning French via the Rosetta Stone ("Rosetta Stone isn't teaching me about hemlines ... it's teaching me about little girls swimming and little boys drinking tea") and his initial concerns about being an American designer entering an established French house.

But even more noteworthy is the story of how he was initially approached to replace Ghesquière by Francois-Henri Pinault — and how, as a man who'd grown up adoring Ghesquière's work, he initially turned it down. “My first reaction to [Pinault] was no," Wang told Vogue. "I told him that I was so preoccupied with what I am doing with my own brand in New York, and I’ll be the most hated man in fashion!” He was "in turmoil" over the offer and even visited a psychic to tame those nerves before finally accepting. As for his new life as a Parisian, his bed time is now 10 p.m.

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‘Bitchy Resting Face’ Is Real

Bitchy Resting Face, the condition that makes women unwittingly unapproachable (except to men on the street instructing them to smile, sweetheart) is no joke. This morning, Today hosted Taylor Orci, creator of the very funny original video, to discuss the condition's origins and implications, and found a Michigan plastic surgeon who promises to correct BRF. "One procedure I perform in the grin lift, used to turn a permanent frown upside down,” Dr. Anthony Youn, told NBC. “As we age, some of us – myself included – find that the corners of our mouths droop, giving us a grumpy look. This is usually present with a resting face.” On the other hand, Tavi Gevinson thinks bitchface is an accessory no woman should leave home without.

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Apple reportedly hires Hulu exec to negotiate future media deals

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Apple reportedly hires Hulu exec to negotiate future media deals

If you believe past rumors, Apple has sometimes had difficulty getting the media industry to agree with its vision of the future. Its solution may be to hire from the industry itself -- Bloomberg claims that Apple has recruited Hulu's Senior VP of Marketing and Distribution, Pete Distad, to negotiate future media deals. Neither company is commenting on the rumor, although the executive may not be immediately necessary: Bloomberg also believes that Apple is near an agreement that would bring Time Warner Cable subscribers and services to Apple TV boxes within "a few months." Whether or not that deal happens, we suspect that Distad could at least help realize Tim Cook's grand vision for TV.


Partiers of the Week: The Social Set Keeps It Light

The week, parties seemed tamer than usual. The freshly crowned editor-in-chief of Lucky, Eva Chen, gave a cherry smile at Rebecca Minkoff event; Hugh Jackman and Barbara Walters were among the guests who appeared in summer whites to celebrate Elle Decor's July/August issue; Amy Adams and Rashida Jones dolled up for CH Carolina Herrera's latest boutique opening; and New York's very own art critic, Jerry Saltz, pointed his index finger fiercely in front of a chandelier. Click ahead to spot more happy faces of designers and young actresses soaking in the summer before it's too hot to be seen in public.

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Was the Hair at Chanel Couture Inspired by Kid ’n Play?

At the Chanel couture show, there were piles of rubble, Rihanna in an ankle-length cardigan, and models with flattops. The boxy, gravity-defying do was born in the fifties (by way of the crew cut) and exaggerated in the eighties by Will Smith (from the Fresh Prince years), Bobby Brown, and Christopher Reid (one half of Kid ’n Play). Reid was a notable adopter of the style, so maybe hairstylist Sam McKnight was inspired by him? Or, since the dos had ponytails, perhaps they were modeled after Lagerfeld's signature locks? Either way, we've included a music video by the rap group to jog your hip-hop memory. Click on that, then through the runway slideshow for a heightened couture experience. Oh-la-oh-la-eeey.

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What Prada’s New Black Model Means for Fashion

Modeling newcomer Malaika Firth made news this week when she booked her first campaign as the face of Prada fall/winter 2013. As Jezebel pointed out, the Kenyan-born 19-year-old, who also walked in Prada’s menswear 2014 show, is the first black model featured in Prada ads since Naomi Campbell in 1994 (19 years ago). The casting is a huge get for the model, whose sophisticated and stunning beauty, with those enviable cheekbones, and, yes, resemblance to young Naomi Campbell make her a natural fit for the campaign. But the announcement also adds a new dimension to an ongoing conversation about race in high fashion. 

On the heels of last Friday's Firth news, Raf Simons also cast six black models to walk in his noticeably diverse couture show yesterday. It was the first time since joining Dior that he used any non-white models on the runway. You might take that as criticism, but he's also being lauded for finally including non-white women. Taken along with Prada, does this mean there is finally major progress when it comes to fashion race relations?

The new ad.

There are two things to note. First, given that the entire continent of Africa was part of Simons' inspiration for Dior's fall 2013 Couture, it would have been tough (and offensive) if he hadn't cast black models to model the clothes. Also, in a Buzzfeed article earlier this year, casting agent James Scully criticized Dior, saying, “I feel the Dior cast is just so pointedly white that it feels deliberate. I watch that show and it bothers me — I almost can’t even concentrate on the clothes because of the cast.” Was Simons's decision to think both multiculturally and then cast black models a direct response? Does it even matter? In my opinion, no. It's not the most subtle answer to a valid call out, but it's encouraging to think that Simons was listening. And the resulting action meant that Joan Smalls, Alek Wek, Maria Borges, Grace Mohary, Yasmin Warsaw, and Kelly Moreira were all present on a runway that hasn't seen a black — or any other minority —  model for the past seven collections.

According to Styleminutes, 90 percent of the models who walked at the 2013 fall/winter shows were white. And instead of using black models, certain designers have resorted to applying black arm. Jourdan Dunn bravely commented on the lack of other black models earlier this year: "I do a show and I look around and it's just me," she told the U.K.'s The Jonathan Ross Show. And even today, when she tweeted about being cut from Dior's runway show thanks to her bra size, she mentioned she normally gets cut for being non-white. To point out fashion's lack of diversity is really not a new argument, but it is getting to be a pretty tired one. 

In other words, Dunn's rejection for reasons other than race shouldn't be a happy surprise for the model. Casting non-white models shouldn't be so rare, it's immediately headline-making news. While Prada and Dior are being noticed for changing their game, there's very little evidence of this being anything other than another exception. It's not a movement toward permanent change, yet.

Let's hope that Firth's career does explode, Simons only casts six white models next season, and that we, someday, can focus on all models — black, white, or otherwise — for their beauty, their cheekbones, or their walk, and not because they're simply minorities. To do that, it'll obviously take more diverse models than these lucky seven.

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