FGI ‘Springs’ Into Action
Yesterday, I attended Fashion Group International’s Spring/Summer 2012 ready-to-wear audio visual presentation. Held at the Time Life Building, it is always an extensive overview which looks back at the runways of New York, London, Milan, and Paris, and highlights the most important trends of the season across the board (clothing, accessories, beauty), which are selected by a panel comprised of some of the best respected names in the business, and spearheaded by FGI’s creative director, Marylou Luther. Ms. Luther (of the International Fashion Syndicate), also narrates the audio visual presentation, and does so in her own inimitable way; and boy, does she ever have a way with words. (Case in point, during a segment on peplums, she decreed “the peplum makes the hips hip again”). The entire segment is capped off with what the group considers to be the “Best Bets” of the season (those ‘most likely to make it from the runway to reality’). This time, this list consists of the following:
Color (brights, whites, chalky pastels); Prints (geos, fusion, florals, photo prints); Pleats; Couture Touches; Sport; Ease; Lace; Full Skirts; The Wedge; The Loafer: The Smaller Day Bag; The Bag That Matches The Clothes; Vintage Looking Jewelry; Pearls; Crosses. This was followed by a “salute to the three most imaginative shows of the season” which just happened to be Thom Browne in New York, Chanel and Louis Vuitton in Paris.
The bonus of covering the noon show, is the panel discussion which follows, and since the committee/panel was comprised of Ikram Goldman, Owner, Ikram, Chicago (the famed retailer who has long been a style advisor to Michelle Obama, made a special trip from Chicago to attend the event); Elizabeth Kanfer, Accessories Fashion Director, Saks Fifth Avenue; Jane Larkworthy, Beauty Director, W; Scott Schuman, Journalist/Photographer, The Sartorialist (who many compare to Bill Cunningham with his candid on the street shots of unsuspecting subjects around the world), and the Special Guest Moderator was Isaac Mizrahi, it was sure to be lively and informative. And it was. Isaac wasted no time in engaging the panel in a few areas that were of particular interest to him. He quickly asked what they thought were the most important ‘statements’ on the runways.
Elizabeth Kanfer (EK): “From a Saks point of view, I’d have to say the ladylike trend, the chalky pastels, and the consistency of ready to wear and accessories (one statement).”
Jane Larkworthy (JL): “Ladylike suits; the high heeled pump; white.”
Scott Schuman (SS): “The idea that you have to give the customer a reason to buy. The customer wants something to buy!”
Ikram Goldman (IG): “The couture feeling (it all feels like couture this season) and the androgynous movement (long skinny skirts and skinny pants).”
Isaac Mizrahi (IM): “I hope there is a sense of irony with ladylike.” And then he quipped, “There is so much going on. How does it all speak to you? How do you cut through the trends and choose”?
IG: “It was an easy season because it was a good season. Everything was so beautiful. It has meaning.”
IM: “Scott, how do YOU cut through the noise? What makes it right for the moment?”
SS: “It has to surprise people. I want to be surprised. But not a crazy surprise. It has to be balanced.”
EK: “I don’t want a statement shoe. Each season, we start with a clean slate and we look to be inspired. Shoes have been so big for awhile. I see a return to the IT bag. Bags will be more important.”
JL: “I was inspired by the crazy (colorful) hair at Narciso and Thakoon. It’s always wonderful when you see a great look that you know immediately you will want to write about in your own way.”
IM: “Scott. What is your definition of what is stylish?”
SS: “Something that strikes me. The gracefulness of a person is what I notice. The aura of this person creates a beautiful package. I’m very picky. I’m looking for subtlety, not the craziness.”
IM: “Where is the fashion capital now?”
IG: “Each place has its own character. I love New York (she mentioned names like Prabal Gurung and Rodarte) but I’m most excited about Paris ”
EK: “Paris provides us with the most number of vendors but Milan really surprised us this season” (and she mentioned Prada, Jil Sander, Marni, and Fendi as the best accessory lines).
SS: “I’m really impressed with Stockholm and Moscow ” (in terms of its young designers, shops, and customers).
IM: “Jane. What stood out for you at the recent shows?”
JL: “ Erdem’s powerful matte red lips” and then she mentioned Celine’s “gorgeous hair”. “In New York , it was always so safe but that’s changed. It’s not so staid. Now you have designers like Joseph Altazurra and Rodarte who are getting bolder with their hair and makeup.”
IM: “Who are the new role models and muses influencing fashion?”
SS: “15 minutes is now 3 minutes. It’s too easy to find out too much too soon about many of these people and they lose their mystery”. He specifically referred to Japan Vogue’s Anna Della Russo whom is known to wear designers outfits head to toe (just as they were shown on the runways), and he said he was one of the first to photograph her early on. Not a traditional beauty by any standards, she is certainly hard not to notice and most importantly for him, “She truly loves fashion and sincerely loves clothes” he said. (Fyi, I’m rather obsessed with fashion as well, so I could easily go a big step further and say she is unusually so. It’s a known fact that Ms. Della Russo keeps a separate apartment in Milan just for her clothes, and she has admitted that she got rid of her boyfriend because there was no room for him!)
IM: “Is there anything bad about fashion, that you would change if you could?”
IG: “I miss the fantasy and mystery. It’s all too over exposed. It’s everywhere and it’s not exciting any more.”
SS: “The preoccupation with newness, newness, newness. It’s all about making the consumer feels he/she needs something new”. At this point, Isaac pointed out that this is what retail is all about and then Scott, who is very independent and who hardly minces words said bluntly, “well, maybe that’s what I don’t like about it”.
(Isaac admitted that for him, it is “over styling” both on the runways and off the runways, that irks him the most).
JL: “I’d like to see celebrities dress themselves. It’s NOT that hard. Be who you are. Select what you like, not what a stylist likes (and she talked about the red carpets with all the borrowed gowns and jewels). FYI- this sentiment was met with much approval from the audience)
IG: “Do you want to know who I love? Isabel Toledo” (this also met with approval from the audience). “Whenever I want to look and feel spectacular, I choose her clothes. She has never been over- exposed, and I hope she doesn’t change”.
EK: “I hate the pace of retail. I feel my age. You give up a lot to be in retail. It’s a daily grind.” (I felt like reminding her that considering the high unemployment rate these days, she is lucky to have a good paying, great job in a field she loves but alas, I resisted). “We want to focus on emerging designers. We need to nurture them and we need to educate the customer”(who apparently is still looking for well known labels).
IM: “We all bore so easily which is why we are all so good at our jobs”.
At one point, after the discussion was opened to members of the audience, someone asked who the panel thought might be a good replacement for John Galliano at Dior. Everyone seemed to agree that Marc Jacobs (whose name has been bantered around continually) would be excellent, but Ikram Goldman also mentioned Olivier Theyskens, and Scott Schuman thought Comme des Garcons would be an unusual, unexpected, and quite perfect fit. D’accord!