Colin’s Column | Does the Format of International Talent Competitions Give English Speakers an Unfair Advantage?

Diane von Furstenberg, Donatella Versace, Franca Sozzani and Victoria Beckham at the International Woolmark Prize | Photo: Dave Benett

On the occasion of the 2013 International Woolmark Prize, Colin McDowell says it’s time to evolve international talent searches to eliminate disadvantages for non-English speakers.

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Colin’s Column | Paris Couture Week, Continued

PARIS, France — The weather was vile, the taxi shortage extreme. The gutters ran with filthy water from melting snow. We slid and slithered in ankle deep slush. In short, Paris was not at its best. But this was Couture Week (well, three days, which is symptomatic of how fashion ‘weeks’ have shrunk, but old habits — and titles — die hard in fashion circles) and we felt privileged to be there. But is everything shown in Paris during

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Colin’s Column | Is Haute Couture Poised for Reinvention or Irrelevance?

Christian Dior Couture S/S 2013 | Photo: BoF

PARIS, France — Couture! This magic word was all but forgotten 30-odd years ago, except in the most exalted and privileged of social circles. Since its high point in the late 1940s and 1950s, couture clients had shrivelled away just as the lifestyles the couturiers once clothed had withered as well. Fashion had taken its lead from the arts, generally, and jumped on the democratic bus called youth and freedom. Even Yves Saint

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Colin’s Column | Are Fashion Exhibitions Measuring Up?

Valentino: Master of Couture | Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe

LONDON, United Kingdom — Did the world stop? Did it move? Were we changed? Did fashion leap into the public consciousness as a result of the 2010 Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which broke a number of records, not least in sales from the gift shop? I would answer in the negative. The Alexander McQueen exhibition was about tragedy, darkness, drama, fame, notoriety and even horror much

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Colin’s Column | Remembering Diana Vreeland

Remembering Diana Vreeland | Photo: Priscilla Rattazzi, dianavreeland.com

To coincide with the release of the documentary film “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel”, contributing editor Colin McDowell recalls the legendary editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. LONDON, United Kingdom — I first met Diana Vreeland at lunch in an Italian castle just outside Rome in the late 70s. It was a hot and sultry day and, although everyone there spoke English, albeit heavily accented in many cases, I think she was

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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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