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July 29 2014

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69 posts tagged "Giorgio Armani"

Glitter and Be Gay? Addressing the LGBT Influence in Fashion

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Calvin Klein AdAs industries go, fashion may be the least closeted there is: No one can deny the massive impact made by men and women who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered in the history of fashion and costume. Fashion historian Valerie Steele addresses the contributions made by LGBT people in a new exhibition, A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk, opening this week at the Museum at F.I.T. It includes pieces ranging from designs by Jean Paul Gaultier and Gianni Versace to Edwardian suits and nineteenth-century finery; clothing made by gays and for gays; as well as those items and styles co-opted and fetishized by gay audiences, and from gay audiences. (See, for example, Versace’s adaptation of leather fetish regalia into his women’s haute couture.)

As the exhibition makes clear—not that it wasn’t out, as it were, already—the gay contribution to fashion is beyond doubt. The question that’s much harder to answer is why. Shortly after the show was announced last year, I sat down with Steele, who co-curated the exhibit with Fred Dennis, to try to tease out the curious correlation and connection between gayness, politics, fashion, and style.

It goes without saying—but let’s say it—that many, many fashion designers and professionals are gay. Is gayness fashion’s default position?

I don’t know if it’s the default position, because there are heterosexual men, and there are women of all different sexualities, straight, gay, and bi, in fashion—though fewer of them have come out than gay men. But I think it’s not just a stereotype to say that there’s a lot of interest in fashion and style among a lot of gay men. What we’re interested in doing with Queer History is, if you can get beyond saying it’s just a stereotype, maybe you can start exploring why it might be the case that there’s this interest in fashion and style. You’re not pathologizing it; for one thing, most people like fashion now. You could explore, is there a kind of gay sensibility that would be drawn to issues of style and fashion?

And is there?
We tend to think yes. But we think there’s not one gay aesthetic, but at least a couple of different gay aesthetics. Several, probably: One that would tend to be more idealizing, and the other that would be more disruptive and gender-fuck.

But that idealizing aesthetic could be a kind of misogyny, no? You have male designers creating designs for women’s bodies that aren’t necessarily forgiving, or even possible…
If you go online, this is the vox pop: Do gay men hate women? You saw that [first] in the fifties, when you had all these very homophobic commentators, like the psychiatrist Bergler, who said that gay men hate women and therefore they make weird clothes for them to wear. But the point is, gay men have made all different types of clothes. It’s not just that they like girls to look like teenage boys, or they like girls to look like a caricature of women. It’s all different styles. And you find that straight men and women of different sexual persuasions also doing those, too. It’s much more related to their individual aesthetic and their time period than it is to their sexual orientations. So I think you have to confront that. Some people who don’t like fashion are going to say that it’s gay men making things for putatively straight women. But I think you can’t be held back by homophobic complaints. I think it’s more important to try and explore where things might lead you and not be constrained by irrational homophobia—and irrational fashion phobia, too.

Which go hand in hand.
Which often do go hand in hand.

Where does this connection between gay men and fashion come from?
I think it’s partly a kind of self-selection early on that gay boys, maybe before they know they’re gay, are interested often in artistic pursuits. “Artistic” was always a kind of euphemism for being gay. Lots of gay people talk about, “When I was four, I was telling my mother how to dress. When I was four, I was doing elaborate drawings of ladies’ costumes.” That’s before you have much of a sexual identity, but there’s already possibly something there that’s attractive about artistic and transformative fields like fashion. Fashion is about artifice and transformation and fantasy and a certain idea of beauty. I think it’s intrinsically very appealing to a lot of people, and it may just be that, at least in certain cultures—and there’s been so little cross-cultural work done, it’s hard to tell—that may be something that’s part of a gay male sensibility. Continue Reading “Glitter and Be Gay? Addressing the LGBT Influence in Fashion” »

Italian For The Evening

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Franca SozzaniLast night, Vogue Italia‘s Franca Sozzani staged an exhibit at the Italian Trade Commission celebrating—you guessed it—Italian fashion. The free-thinking editor mixed old and new, asking eight up-and-coming directors to present their fashion film spin on some of Italy’s biggest names, from Prada and Giorgio Armani to Missoni and Versace. “We chose the brands, they chose the clothes,” Sozzani said at yesterday’s exhibit-turned-party, wearing a bold print dress by emerging Italian talent Stella Jean.

“Everybody is Italian tonight!” exclaimed Calvin Klein’s Italo Zucchelli. True enough, the party had the likes of Joy Bryant, Amanda Hearst, and Johan Lindeberg showing off their Italian side—if only for the night. DJ Mia Moretti held out her Ferragamo clutch and Fendi shoes like an badge of honor.

Guests clamored inside the space, where digital screens broadcast each of the films. Headphones allowed them to listen in. Ann Dexter-Jones pointed to Carlo Lavagna’s An Italian Adventure, which had its Dolce & Gabbana heroine swimming in the Mediterranean. “I want to be in Sicily in that one,” she said.

Photo: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

Jodie Foster Is Giorgio Armani’s Favorite Actress

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Jodi Foster in Armani

Or, at least, that’s what he told WWD today. The designer has reportedly created a range of power suits for Foster’s role in the upcoming film Elysium, which, out on August 9, is set in the year 2154 and also stars Matt Damon. Of course, Armani is no stranger to cinematic wares—last year, he outfitted the cast of The Dark Knight Rises, and, in the past, the label has dressed Richard Gere in American Gigolo, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, and Sean Connery in the The Untouchables, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, and he’s even dabbled in pop star duds, creating costumes for Lady Gaga’s Born this Way Tour. No doubt, the Armani-clad Foster is in pretty good company.

Photo:© 2013, Columbia Pictures

Armani Gives Stella Jean a Chance

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A look from Stella Jean's Fall '13 collectionContinuing his effort to provide some much needed support to Italy’s up-and-coming designers, Giorgio Armani has announced today that he will invite emerging talent Stella Jean to show her Spring ’14 collection at Teatro Armani during Milan fashion week. “The new generation of Italian designers needs our support,” offered Mr. Armani. “It is for this reason that I continue to make my theater on Via Bergognone available to them.”

Armani began inviting young labels to present in his space during the Spring ’14 menswear season, asking Andrea Pompilio to be his first rising star. Jean—a native Roman with a Haitian background—often uses her Creole heritage as a point of reference for vibrant ready-to-wear. A former model, she earned second place in Alta Roma’s Who Is On Next competition in 2011.

Diamonds Are a Boy’s Best Friend

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Diamond looks from Bottega Veneta, Versace, and Peter Jensen

Flipping an age-old adage on its glittering axis, designers have proposed diamonds—the shape, though, not the gemstone—as a Spring ’14 menswear motif. Both Ports 1961 and Giorgio Armani sent forth abstract, faded parallelograms—the former on a cream-colored bomber, the latter by means of spray-painted T-shirts. Yet the strongest use of the shape came on knitwear. Tomas Maier, for example, offered a heather-gray jumper with a repeating diamond pattern in his midcentury mash-up for Bottega Veneta (above, left). Donatella Versace paneled a navy, Medusa-buttoned cardigan in delicate rhombuses (above, center). And lastly, London’s Peter Jensen rendered a vermillion paragon on an ice-blue jumper, knit from ultrafine U.K. yarns (above, right). “There’s a whole playing card intarsia story in my collection,” Jensen told Style.com, noting his use of hearts, spades, and clubs, too. But the diamond may be his favorite. “It’s about time that diamonds become a boy’s best friend,” he said.

Photo: Marcus Tondo/ InDigital/ GoRunway (Bottega);  Yannis Vlamos/ InDigital/ GoRunway (Versace); Courtesy of Peter Jensen