Editor’s note: This February, renowned student-designer Andrew J. Hamilton ’05 traveled to Fashion Week and got a backstage peek at the newest by Diane von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, and Badgley Mischka.
In the fashion world, names are like vocab words. Name recognition is used to select who has an informed and worthwhile opinion, and who only strives to have one. Which one are you? Prove it by using Manolo Blahnik in a sentence. Not only that, but pronounce it properly. Let Badgley Mischka roll off your tongue.
The names of those who pass the test are gradually integrated into the list itself. The names of those who fail are forgotten four seconds before they’re uttered alongside a nervous handshake.
Everyone who’s anyone is known by at least two names: Karl Lagerfeld, Behnaz Sarafpour, Alek Wek, and Marc Jacobs. But a hierarchy develops. If you have three names, you’re more important because there’s more to remember: Andre Leon Talley, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, or Diane von Furstenberg (is that only two and a half?). But paradoxically the icons and the iconoclasts are somehow conjured up in a single breath: Dior, Chanel, Gucci, and Versace.
Now for many of you these names are about as recognizable as dining hall food, and likely as difficult to swallow. That’s okay, as long as you’re clever. This is where the real humor of the event lies. So when you next find yourself in a lively debate over current hemlines, remember: the trick is to rebut one foreign sounding name by referring to another equally inane (but more obscure) one — aiming to stump your opponent. And so I give you: Kim Novak — but we’ll get to that.
The real honor is when any of these multitude of names is reduced to a first name. Although the experience really isn’t a process of reduction — as when Andre Leon Talley, Editor-at-Large of Vogue Magazine exclaims, “Please, call me Andre!” just about everything inside you swells with such excitement that your face contorts in a ridiculous beaming grin. Coincidentally that’s also the moment your picture is taken by a million photographers because you’re standing next to the one of the leading commentators on fashion in the world today — and may I add, what better way to attend Fashion Week?
So what is fashionable in the world today? (Cue: “Kim Novak!”). This season’s clothes are a glamorous throwback to the golden years of Hollywood. Like Carolina Herrera did in designing her new fall line, think Alfred Hitchcock. What was pumped over the colossal speakers at her Feb. 10 show? The score to Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” arguably Novak’s most noteworthy film (granted, because of James Stewart).
The shrill notes struck above a resonant house beat, as a medley of spectacularly simple grey suits strode out upon the runway — just like Kim in the movie. Herrera’s work was the best yet of her career. Her designs are classic and timeless, and yet just as glamorous as they could possibly be. Sweater sets will no longer be just something out of a Meg Ryan movie. Heels and kid gloves are a must. The show culminated in a stunning collage of silk evening gowns that billowed and sighed behind the legs of the models like clouds in a Chinese scroll painting. (Also of note were the wide cloth belts, similar to cummerbunds or the obi of a geisha’s kimono, incorporated into everything throughout the shows.
Diane von Furstenberg’s show, the evening before, took a far more vivacious, vigorous approach. Inspired by James Bond, Furstenberg chose to design women’s clothes for the female Bond — not one of Bond’s femme-fatales, some one-hit pinup-type seductress, or a helpless doe-eyed damsel. Equally as glamorous, but with a healthy punch of attitude, edge and a handful of smart looking cocktail hats, Furstenberg’s models carried her clothes with a well-deserved confidence that celebrated femininity. They certainly would have dropped Bond’s jaw, as well as his pants. Both Furstenberg and Herrera demonstrated that hats haven’t, or shouldn’t have, gone out of style. In an ever-changing world of paranormal synthetic blends, fur is the essential accoutrement to any classic wardrobe as a tasteful collaborator for the biologically born wools, leathers, and silks.
However, while backstage with Andre at Oscar de la Renta, caught in a whirlpool of naked supermodels being dressed and tressed, I must confess– I found no breasts! (Only nipples). For any woman out there worried that perhaps she tries to squeeze just a bit too much into the latest fashions, let me remind you that clothes of this era, inspired by the ’50s, champion a far shorter, fuller-figured ideal. If clothes were meant to hang angularly off a rigid form, they’d be left on the hanger. As any gentleman knows, size does matter and bigger is always better. Don’t hide your curves; this is your season. Believe me; you won’t look as far from heaven as you might think. (In fact, you’ll look very “Far From Heaven,” as well you should). Three words: sass, ass, and class.
And so, my reader, before I go, one final name to impart to you: my own! (For, really, where would the fashion world be without gratuitous marketing tactics?) The event: the largest fashion show ever to be held at Yale University, “Le Carnaval des Animaux.” Expect it April 25th — and dress to impress.
Until then, I remain fashionably yours, Andrew James Hamilton.