Not Just Another Pretty Face

What more can Amal Alamuddin-Clooney add to her already impressive resume? How about Columbia Law School visiting professor/senior fellow? It was just announced that the international human-rights lawyer (and wife of George Clooney), will be lecturing on human rights law as a senior fellow with the Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute this spring. (The newlyweds will be living in New York as George films the Jodie Foster directed movie “Money Monster”). Because she has become such a global sensation as of late (especially where fashion is concerned), this has already had several websites speculating as to what she might wear during her tenure (or rather, what she should wear, with a number of people weighing in on their selections). FYI, she topped my The New Best Dressed List for 2014; I referred to her as “Best Dressed International Lawyer” and this was prior to the news of her engagement to GC.

In any case, this immediately had me thinking of the many ways the brilliant and accomplished Amal could not be more opposite Kim Kardashian, a woman who defines airhead superficiality. While both are bona fide celebrities, are always being photographed, are always in the news, and their choice of fashion is always being highly scrutinized, that is where the similarities end. While Kimye is all about shameless, narcissistic self-promotion; finding endless ways to draw attention to herself (bleaching her hair is the latest); and enhancing her own little world, Mrs. Clooney is out there, striving the make the world a better place. (Just like her hubby who has served as a senior advisor to Kofi Annan when he was the UN’s envoy on Syria).

 George Clooney & Amal Alamuddin
at their Venetian  wedding

The brainy beauty (with her enviable cover girl good looks), has it all, and she does it all while looking flawless. She is always fabulously turned out, she obviously knows and appreciates fashion, and she understands its power to enhance. But while she indulges herself in these admitted superficialities, they are not her raison d’etre, and never threaten to take over her life (as they have with Kim). I know that Kanye considers his wife to be the ultimate fashion icon, but in my opinion, Amal is the epitome of a modern fashion icon because she is undeniably a role model. By the way, one reason this is on my mind is because “Fashion Icon” is one of the categories on the ballot of the 2015 CFDA Awards (final ballots are due this Thursday). The timing of this, on the heels of the fall winter collections, always adds another dimension to their coverage and it forces one to focus.

 Lanvin Fall/Winter 2015

This leads me to Alber Elbaz, the artistic director of Lanvin since 2001, who last week in Paris, showed one of his strongest collections to date. Perfectly accessorized and perfectly balanced, it had it all: from impeccable tailoring to fanciful flights of fancy. I have one word to describe it: “Sigh!” There’s always something wonderfully intuitive about Alber’s designs. A consummate storyteller, he seems to know exactly what his loyal customers want just at the right time. Most designers have their off days and off collections, but Alber never seems to miss a beat. His clothes are always womanly and divinely chic, regardless of whether he is showing large gold breastplates spelling out words like Happy, Love, You, Help (and putting them together with cocktail dresses and flat lace up oxfords); menswear inspired tailleur; metallic suits and evening wear (and metallic garbage bags!); drop dead gorgeous luxurious furs and coats; beautiful blouses; goddess worthy draped jersey dresses, etc.

Backstage at Lanvin Fall/Winter 2015

The Moroccan born designer (who moved to Israel with his family at a very early age), has lived in New York and now calls Paris home, and he is a walking embodiment of global and international (he won the CFDA International Award in 2005). He has not only exhibited a consistent lifetime devotion to making women look and feel beautiful (he firmly believes that beauty and comfort go hand in hand), but a lifetime devotion to fashion, and as such, would be a perfect recipient for this year’s Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. Coincidentally, he honed his formidable skills at Geoffrey Beene in the late 80’s, where he worked for 7 years (he was also Creative Director at Yves Saint Laurent for three seasons). Alber and Geoffrey forged a strong creative bond with their similar aesthetics; not the least was which their rejection of trends. I always remember Geoffrey’s quote (in discussing why he disliked so many editors): “Don’t ask me what’s new; ask me what’s good.” Touche!

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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