Best Supporting Actress winner Tilda Swinton nuked the fashion competition at the recent Oscars. With her 70’s Bowie hair—remember the cover of Low, the brilliant 1977 album?—and her black velvet Lanvin one-sleeved toga, La Swinton made all those other gals in their fussy bustier glamour gowns look like a bunch of Republican drears on their way to a constipated night out at the local country club.
Finally, courtesy of La Swinton, we got to see a bit of real individual style at the Oscars. And, while we’re at it, thank God aussi for Marion Cotillard in her exquisitely crafted Gaultier mermaid couture. Ditto Diablo Cody (am sure her real name is Phyllis Jenkins) in whatever the hell it was she was wearing. Thank you, girls, for giving us all a much-needed dollop of eccentric glamour! (Eccentric Glamour just happens to be the title of my next book, which will be released by Simon & Schuster in April and contains, among other gems, an interview with the aforementioned Tilda. Expect more thinly veiled plugs in the coming weeks.)
Hollywood and fashion have a wacky Britney Spears/Adnan Ghalib on-again, off-again kind of a relationship. They have been shagging each other since at least the early 90’s: Prancing red-carpet celebs spouting designer names are now as much a part of the marketing of La Mode as the runway shows themselves. But will these two lovers ever really seal the deal? Why, if these two bedfellows are really so mutually besotted, are the high-fashion Tildas of the world so thin on the red carpet?
The culprit here is not the cautiously gowned celebs, but rather the lowbrow media, with its zero tolerance for anything other than frowzy, ruched prom dresses. The quirky idiosyncrasy that differentiates real fashion from regular clothing becomes an instant dart board for their wicked lowbrow barbs and their “What Were They Thinking?” columns. Much as I love a bit of lowbrow barbing—I’m no stranger to it myself—the fashion police at the tabloids have created a generation of gun-shy glamour pusses. (Thanks for sucking all the fun and idiosyncrasy out of life, you muckrakers!)
The highbrow media has blood on its hands, too, but for quite different reasons: Contrasting sharply with the lowbrow folks, the fashion insiders at The New York Times and Women’s Wear Daily have, based on last week’s coverage of the Paris collections, an infinite tolerance for the deranged, the insanely unaffordable, the foam-backed and the unwearable. They sit there in their simple black tailored outfits, scribbling frantic homilies to wacky bankrupting duds that they have no intention of buying themselves but are more than happy to inflict on the rest of us.
Stuck between these two polarized viewpoints—one excessively pedestrian, the other masochistically and unquestioningly committed to codified experimentation—is you, the ordinary woman on the street. Little wonder you are such a mess!
In an effort to cut through the cackle, and get you some useful much-needed advice, I went straight to the source. I asked my sisters at Barneys, gals whose sizzlingly stylish ensembles delight me every day, about their fashion choices. What will Kimberly, Dawn, Tomoko, Amy, Suzi, Wanda and grand poobah Judy Collinson—Tilda lovers all—be opening their handbags to buy this spring? Their choices, informed as they are by an encyclopedic knowledge of what is available to the consumer at this very moment in time, will be more helpful to you than the fashion fascism of the tabloids and the elitist musings of my clever pals at the NYT.
CROSS-DRESSING FOR DOLLARS
Art director Suzi Jones took the name Comme des Garcons and dragged it to a very literal place: “I just bought one of the men’s Comme Des Garcons shrunken trench coats. It was only $870! And it is supercute for a chick.” For Suzi this is just the beginning: “I also want one of their shrunken school blazers. It’s so much cheaper than buying in the women’s store!”
“I’m just post-baby and digging the figure-flattering Dries Van Noten floral blouse with contrasting patchwork floral neckline,” said Kimberly Oser from publicity. Almost every Barneys broad I spoke to is jonesing for a floral freakout. Judy Collinson is fully intent on snagging this seasons blue, flowered, 1959 re-imagined, reissued Balenciaga frock.
SILLY FOR SANDALS
Wanda Colon, the chicest Latina in the men’s buying office, is snagging the YSL “Tribute” sandal in blue; Kimberly is buying the Chanel (newly arrived at Barneys this season) orange flat thong with big silver CC’s, “because I have never been able to buy Chanel with a discount before. Yippee!”
Re regular shoes: Wanda is already vamping to meetings in Lanvin metallic leather platforms. Bottega Veneta devotee Dawn Brown, our head of PR, will be flaunting a pair of woven platform wedges.