Friday, April 11, 2008

Designer Details and More

I was reading M (Macy’s magazine) spring 2008 issue and came across an interview with Michael Kors. Kors, who’s been on the fashion scene for twenty-five-plus years (his first ready-to-wear line was launched at various department stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Sak’s in 1981) is arguably one of the most famous American designers, along with the likes of Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
Kors’ interview was enlightening as he talked about his design process, his signature style and his inspirations. I really respect and admire his clothing lines (MICHAEL, the lower-priced clothing line is about the only one I can afford ☺). There’s something about Kors that says all-American with a twist of European chic-ness that you just don’t see (in my opinion) in Ralph Lauren’s more preppy lines.
What I love even more about Kors is his no-holds-barred frankness on Bravo’s Project Runway. He’s the amusing foil to Nina Garcia’s Devil Wears Prada attitude (seriously: he once told a contestant that the outfit looked like something Friar Tuck would wear; to another, he said a pair of pants looked like the "model’s a*s was in front").
Which brings me to my point: much of the interview was about Kors’ signature style. You see, when you see pictures of fashion designers, did you ever notice that they’re always wearing the same outfit? Examples: Tom Ford in an unbuttoned white shirt/black suit combo; Donna Karan’s long, flowy dresses; Vera Wang’s tunic tops/cardigans with leggings, Zac Posen’s military-inspired jackets, Karl Lagerfeld’s all black ensemble, black boots and high collars, and, we can’t forget, Kors’ jean/blazer/T-shirt combo. Kors even acknowledges as much in his interview by commenting about his personal style, “Formulaic. I spend my life thinking about clothes and dressing men and women—but I do not want to think about how I get dressed.” Interesting.

Weaving into this discussion about personal style is a mention of Karl Lagerfeld, long known as the force behind fashion house Chanel. I saw the documentary Lagerfeld Confidentiel during the Wisconsin Film Festival (held here in Madison, April 3–6). What an interesting documentary! Lagerfeld, long known as someone who doesn’t reveal much about himself, does the same in this documentary. While it’s somewhat revealing about his day-to-day life (photo shoots, fashion shows, traveling constantly), he’s still quite enigmatic and mysterious. He even comments in the film how he wants to remain a mystery to those very close to him, including family and friends.
My favorite part of the film was the beginning when they show his French abode. He has at least five large, silver bowls on two dressers filled to the brim with big, chunky silver rings—part of his signature style. It appears as though he wears at least one, if not two, rings on each finger.
Also in his dresser drawers? Stiff, white collars that he (presumably) buttons into the collars of his trademark black jackets. It reminded me of a stay that goes in a priest’s collar—only five times as wide and up to his chin. Designers, that crazy bunch. But hey, Lagerfeld’s probably thinking the same thing as Michael Kors—if I think about clothes all day, I just want what’s dependable and looks good on me! I compare it to a chef; the last thing a chef wants to do when he or she get home from work is cook a five-course meal—they just want a grilled cheese sandwich.

So what’s your personal style?
Everyone from the highest echelon of the fashion ranks like John Galliano’s crazy pirate-style (seriously; he’s the head designer of Christian Dior) to people like you and I, have one.
I say, embrace your style! Buy what you love but don’t be a slave to trends. And for goodness sake (Kors would agree) wear what fits—that’s always in style. Whether it’s from the new Goodwill store on State Street (opened April 8) or Twigs, we can all find something that works for us.

658 State St.
Twigs 1925 Monroe St. 255-4363.

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