Colin’s Column | What Fashion Can Learn from Vidal, Hughes and Piaggi

Anna Piaggi Doppie Pagine | Source: happyvintage.glamour.it

LONDON, United Kingdom — To lose three people of great cultural value in a couple of weeks seems a cruel deprivation. First, Gore Vidal, then Robert Hughes and, finally, Anna Piaggi — belles lettres, art criticism and fashion knowledge lightly worn. They will be missed in their different ways. But each one of them had something to contribute to fashion, though I suspect that many, inside and outside the fashion industry, may not

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Colin’s Column | Does the Fashion Critic Matter Anymore?

Fashion Critics (L-R) Cathy Horyn, Godfrey Deeney, Suzy Menkes and Hilary Alexander

LONDON, United Kingdom — All creative endeavours require critical feedback if they are to develop and mature. Ancient storytellers honed their craft by observing the reaction of their audiences. Medieval strolling players were pelted with manure if they failed to perform well. Vaudeville artists in the American South were physically threatened and run out of town if they weren’t up to standard. Indeed, art, dance and literature all

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Colin’s Column | Making the Case for a Modern Couture

Christian Dior Couture Autumn/Winter 2012 by Raf Simons

PARIS, France — Strange people in the fashion world. Take Dior. The couturier who founded the house with money provided by Marcel Boussac, the cotton baron, was secretive and superstitious, always looking for traitors hiding behind curtains. And nothing much seems to have changed since the man described by Cecil Beaton as “the Watteau of couturiers” first took the fashion world by storm in 1947, the year in which Christian Dior

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Colin’s Column | Bill Cunningham’s Search for Beauty

LONDON, United Kingdom — “Bill Cunningham New York,” the ‘fly on the wall’ documentary devoted to the octogenarian photographer is very gentle. Pleasingly so, as he has gone from being a well-loved eccentric of the international fashion scene to public property. I saw the film in an art house cinema in London’s West End, where the size of the audience can normally be counted on the fingers of two hands. But for Bill, it was packed.

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Colin’s Column | Designer Hokey Pokey

(Clockwise L-R) Ricardo Tisci, Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons, Hedi Slimane, Sarah Burton, Jil Sander

LONDON, United Kingdom — Now that the dust has settled on the last of the four major international runways, it’s time to take stock. Watching the shows, I was reminded of British artist Richard Hamilton’s comment on Pop Art, which he described as “transient, expendable, low-cost, mass-produced and… big business.” This seems an almost spookily apt description of at least 70 percent of the collections I have seen this season,

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Colin’s Column | Fashion Tomes of the Times

Vogue: The Covers | Source: mostmagnific.com

LONDON, United Kingdom — There are two ways in which a fashion magazine can be successful: either by featuring clothes with which the reader can identify or by stimulating the reader’s imagination. It is the old tussle between commerciality and creativity. Except, of course, it isn’t a tussle that existed before fashion magazines became mass market and needed to chase and keep readers who, for most of the twentieth century, never

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Colin’s Column | Top Collections from London Fashion Week

Burberry SS 2012 Details Screenshot | Source: American Vogue.com

Legendary fashion writer and BoF contributing editor Colin McDowell has been attending and reviewing fashion shows for more than 30 years. Who better to give us the lowdown on one of the best London Fashion Weeks in recent memory? LONDON, United Kingdom — Each season, despite challenges, London continues to raise the stakes, in terms of both creativity and, dare I say it, commercial potential. Here, I’ve assembled my top choices of

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Colin’s Column | Something Is Rotten in the State of Fashion

Chanel Couture | Source: The New York Times

LONDON, United Kingdom — Death and disgrace do not often darken the world of fashion. In the case of the first, a designer normally dies long after retirement and his demise is of only local interest. In the case of the second, it rarely happens and can usually be covered up by one means or another. But in the last eighteen months there have been two tragedies that can neither be covered up, nor ignored. They are, of course, the

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Colin’s Column | Are changes to fashion education crippling innovation in the world’s creative capital?

LONDON, United Kingdom — Design is generally about function leading form in a problem-solving exercise that almost always starts with a sense of discontent with what is generally available and a strong determination to make it better and even change radically a template that might have been used for many years. The result, in the hands of the right practitioner, is a completely new solution to the problem, a solution that works for

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