This is the scene from Clueless-Cher, wearing Alaïa; photo courtesy of Paramount
The first time I heard the name of famed fashion designer, Azzedine Alaïa, was in a movie. I remember it well – the year was 1995, and I was sitting in a theater in Greenwich Village – watching a funny and charming movie called, Clueless. In one scene, Cher, was being held up at gunpoint in the seedier part of LA and asked to lay on the asphalt. Protested Cher, “But, this is an Alaïa,” and she began to cry. “He’s like a totally famous designer.”
Azzedine Alaïa was a famous, uncompromising designer – known for his sculpture and silhouettes, molding his dresses to women’s forms – but he was equally famous for his rejection of the fashion system and his insistence on going his own way. Last Saturday, Azzedine Alaïa passed away at 82.
Alaïa held intimate shows in his Paris headquarters off-schedule that had nothing to do with designated fashion weeks or with following what the press and retailers demanded. He rejected the official calendar, preferring to reveal his clothing as he deemed it ready. Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times, says Alaïa “dedicated his life to the belief that fashion was more than just garments; to him, they were as much an element in the empowerment of women and of a broader cultural conversation … He used leather and knits to shape and support the body, transforming it into the best version of itself. He eschewed external decoration for internal integrity, weaving pattern and adornment into the weft of the garment itself in ways that were almost undetectable to the outside eye.” Continue reading
An atrium in the Burlington Center Mall. Credit Peter Garritano for The New York Times
I live dangerously close to a high-end mall; The Short Hills Mall in New Jersey is always hopping – teaming with people, rain or shine. That is why when I read Steven Kurutz’s “An Ode to Shopping Malls” in the New York Times reflection of filmmaker Dan Bell’s powerful Dead Malls Series on YouTube – visual tributes to dead malls in working-class and rural communities across America – I was stunned.
Bell’s inspiration came when he returned to his favorite childhood haunt, The Owings Mills Mall, in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland – after almost a decade. It had been that long since Bell had been in that mall, or any mall. The year was 2015, and what Bell found shocked him. “The first moment kind of took my breath away, because it was this entire corridor of nothing … They had loud pop music echoing through the mall, and I’m looking down this corridor, and there’s no people, no stores open,” Mr. Bell said. “It was really a sobering moment.”
Like many of us who grew up in the 1980s, the mall held a special place in our growing up (think of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982!) – shopping, food courts, escalators, make-up trials, socializing – it all happened at the mall. Mr. Bell visits the dead malls only; the ones in rural and working-class communities – he is less interested in the upscale, wealthier malls, where businesses continue to do well. One feels an emptiness watching Bell’s Dead Malls Series, even if you are conflicted with the idea of massive consumerism. I actually never loved malls, I still don’t – but the fact that they are dying leaves me feeling melancholy and lonely. Like a piece of my youth has left me.
Credit An Rong Xu for The New York Times
Last week I found Urban Cowboy on television, one of my favorite films from 1981, for its music and story – but mostly, because of Debra Winger! I loved her in that movie, as Sissy – so sexy in her black cowboy hat and sleeveless tee! That was the moment in her career where Debra Winger was everywhere … and then, she wasn’t. So it was with joy that I found news that Winger was at the Tribeca Film Festival, talking about her new film, The Lovers. Ruth La Ferla interviewed Winger over brunch, and she shared her views on aging and fashion. On aging, Winger says, “It’s hard to accept your aging face. You’ve got to be tough.” On fashion and her evolving style over time her comments made my smile: “It’s all about finding your groove at every age. I refuse to go into the future nomadic,” she all but rasped. “I’m not going to wear some tentlike schmatta that doesn’t say anything.”
I love it! I, too, think about finding my groove, as my body shifts and I make small adjustments. But seriously, no tentlike schmattas for now, or ever, for any of us!
Franca Sozzani at the Venice Film Festival in 2014; Credit Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Director and Chief Fashion Critic for The New York Times, wrote a beautiful piece remembering Franca Sozzani, editor of Italian Vogue, who passed away this past week at age 66. Friedman says that Sozzani was an editor who knew that fashion wasn’t really about clothes – she elevated Italian Vogue to a new level and made it better, and was not only talented but influential. When Friedman interviewed Sozzani in 2013, she said, “Here’s what I think: Fashion isn’t really about clothes. It’s about life. Everyone can afford fashion on some level, everyone can talk about it. So what else can we say? We can’t always be writing about flowers and lace and aquamarine.” In fact, in the 28 years that Sozzani reigned at Italian Vogue Friedman says she “redefined the job as editor,” never shying away from important issues of the day and regularly breaking boundaries. “At a time when so much of what designers and magazines and stores do has become a numbers game calculated by market research and page views and what sold well last season, her example argues for the opposite. She took risks. They didn’t always end well. But more often than not, she was proved right.” ~ Vanessa Friedman
On a day when I am waking to the sad news of the passing of George Michael, I am touched by the passing of this fashion influencer.
Image Source: Getty / Slaven Vlasic
This is New York Fashion Week and one of its staples is noticeably missing from the scene: New York Times fashion and street style photographer, Bill Cunningham. He was a Fashion Week presence for nearly 40 years, and he and his signature blue jacket are absent – Cunningham died in June at the age of 87. To kick off the event, Day One of Fashion Week held a charming tribute to Bill Cunningham, as working fashion photographers donned blue jackets and arranged their chairs in the shape of his camera. Now that’s a fashion moment!
Cosmetics industry veteran Andrea Robinson’s new book, “Toss the Gloss: Beauty Tips, Tricks & Truths for Women 50+,” has me thinking: do I keep beauty secrets from you? Never! Here are my tried-and-true beauty (and a few fashion) tips: I never leave home without my lipstick – CoverGirl #355; I try to wear color around my face (I recommend choosing colors that bring out the best in you – mine is always a cherry red); I keep a favorite pair of jeans at-the-ready at all times; For my face, I cleanse with an exfoliant and moisturize often during the day with Bobbi Brown and Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil and at night with La Roche Posay; I always use WEN® cleansing conditioner (Pomegranate) on my hair. My go-to’s in my arsenal? A trusted dermatologist and tailor!
Photo by Lisa Reznik