It’s upsetting news. Aside from Dries Van Noten, she was the only other member of the Antwerp Six that I really paid attention to. I can’t think of a single other designer whose aesthetic and attention to detail even compares to Ann’s. Her clothes always embodied a certain character—poets, witches, spiritual vagabonds—and that’s going to be difficult to evolve without making a mockery of everything she worked to create. I just don’t want to see what happened to Alexander McQueen happening again…to anyone (shudders). I don’t know who could replace her, but Ann’s fans are so particular that her successor is going to be thrown to the wolves either way. Good luck to that person. I guess the worst-case scenario is that it ends up looking like the costumes from American Horror Story: Coven, which isn’t too bad…
Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here.
This racial profiling scandal reminds me of something that happened a few years ago, also involving Jay Z. In a 2006 interview with The Economist, Frederic Rouzaud, managing director of Louis Roederer–makers of the super expensive Cristal wine that was featured prominently in hip hop songs and music videos–stated that being associated with the “bling lifestyle” could be detrimental: “But what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.” Jay Z, viewing the comments as racist and disrespectful, pulled Cristal wine from his clubs and vowed to changed his song lyrics.
He acted swiftly back then so I can understand why many people feel indignant about his decision to continue working with Barneys, given the similar racial implications, i.e. black people don’t deserve our products. However, 100 per cent of the proceeds (Barneys had previously pledged 25 per cent) is going to The Shawn Carter Foundation, which gives scholarships to underprivileged youths. Without the collab, that money wouldn’t exist—Jay Z chose the lesser of two evils. Also, by taking on a leadership role and being more involved in the case, he can inspire real change to Barneys store policy.
Note: I personally think Jay Z’s New York Holiday collection is hideous and overpriced, but at least the money is going to a good place. I wrote more about this on Antwerpsex, if you’d like to read it.
i-D: 40 things to remember when fashion gets too much; by James Anderson
1. Being ‘on-trend’ is a mediocre aspiration that will never make anyone remember you.
4. Words like ‘edgy’ and ‘directional’ should be used sparingly, otherwise you sound like a tacky fashion ‘expert’ off breakfast telly.
9. If you are going to blog about fashion, make sure you can string a sentence together.
16. It is better to buy one stomach-churningly expensive piece of clothing that you love - even if means you can’t pay the rent next month - rather than an array of cheap things which you just, sort-of, quite like.
35. Never, ever describe yourself as a ‘fashionista’ if you want anyone to take you seriously.
37. Don’t be worried by negative reactions to what you wear: all the best fashion statements are misunderstood or maligned at first.
38. Fashion is one of the most effective forms of instant communication and self-expression, but it doesn’t compensate for having something interesting to say.
40. Don’t believe everything you read about fashion just because it’s been published somewhere reputable: process the information and always make up your own mind.
In John Galliano’s interview with Charlie Rose (Youtube link here), the designer says that he knew McQueen personally and “understood” why he committed suicide. Of course, we’ll never know for sure (and suicide can’t be ascribed to one cause), but it probably had something to do with feeling utterly lonely despite always being surrounded by different people: your design team, the PPR/Kering executives, your famous friends, etc. There are so many people to answer. And as McQueen’s popularity grew, and his name received more column inches (thanks, Lady Gaga), this ‘machine’ got bigger and bigger until it sucked him in.
McQueen created beautiful collections, obviously. There was always this sensitivity, this soulful undercurrent, and it wasn’t the in-your-face-and-knock-you-over-the-head Fa$h!on that we see on the McQueen runway these days. I think Galliano would have treated the brand with the same level of respect—fantasy can be seductive, but it can also be brutal and grotesque. It can turn you into an ugly person, as Galliano now understands. I think he’d be a good match for the brand. Let’s remember that Alexander McQueen replaced Galliano at Givenchy (before it was a glorified t-shirt company). To see them reverse roles—Galliano taking over McQueen, at his own brand—would have been weirdly poetic, no?
(But really…after the Spring 2014 collection I’d prefer anyone over Sarah Burton)
What does Alexa Chung actually do?
I’m hoping that everyone is familiar with the television sitcom Friends, otherwise this introduction won’t make much sense. A running gag on that show was that nobody in the main cast knew what Chandler Bing did for a living. There’s an episode in which Chandler and Joey team up against Rachel and Monica (who have bet their apartment) in a game of trivia, and the winning pair get to move into said apartment. The joke eventually comes up: “What is Chandler Bing’s job?” Rachel and Monica are stumped, and they start rambling frantically that it “has something to do with numbers” (“and processing!”). Rachel finally yells that Chandler is a “transponster”, to which Monica responds, “That’s not even a word!” Ultimately, the women lose the game and must surrender their apartment.
I sympathise with Rachel and Monica, I really do. And that’s because I feel the exact same way about some of the people sitting at fashion shows. Who are they and what do they do for a living? Why are they there? Are they only there to look pretty for the press? Are they clients? Friends? Muses? And what exactly does being a “muse” entail? It’s confusing stuff. I’m not usually one to cast aspersions on people simply for existing, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is that some of these people are paid to do. I don’t think anybody really knows. I’m not even sure these people know themselves. But can we really blame them? It’s so easy to get comfortable in the fashion industry if you don’t have to worry about meeting deadlines, reaching sales goals, generating profits, etc. It must be sweet to get paid simply for showing up at a party (sadly, that’s what most fashion shows have turned into).
This is why I’m so fascinated by Alexa Chung. She seems to have stayed relevant without doing much at all. She’s a beautiful woman (I still can’t believe she’s 30), but lucky genetic composition isn’t exactly an achievement. I know that she used to model at one point in her life but–let’s be honest–she was never that successful to begin with. She’s a contributing editor at British Vogue, which I’m fairly certain means that she helps put together next season’s essentials, like a beanie with cat ears or a selection from Francoise Hardy’s discography. She’s also been on the cover a few times, which is suprising because I can’t imagine that Chung is that interesting to interview. Um, what else? She designed some clothes for Madewell, dated Alex Turner for a few years, and has won the publicly-voted British Style Award for three years in a row. She’s also a television presenter on the odd occasion. Most recently, she published a book called It (an allusion to her It-girl status?), which Jan Moir has described as “vacuous” and a “dopey-brained orgy of self-congratulation, a great big hug of love from gorgeous me to delicious me.”
For some reason it has become one of the cardinal rules of the fashion blogosphere that you must be obsessed with Alexa Chung. I will gladly join the fandom; I will buy her books, read her writing, and shower her with effusive praise for all her kooky Peter Pan collars and adorable cat prints. I just need to have a good reason to love her, something to aspire to. Alas, I can’t find a single thing about her worth emulating. I fail to understand what it is that actually justifies her reported $2.3 million annual salary, which is more than most editors and journalists make in a decade. Unsurprisingly, Alexa Chung is also keen to move into clothing design, and the concept sounds absolutely terrifying. “I just designed a really good bra in my head,” she told Grazia UK. “Black see-through triangles, with a nose over your nipples and two cat faces.” Oh god.