The Darkness

I've got a not-so-secret love for the gothic. Not the costume-y, Hot Topic, New Orleans scene kind of thing. Just a love of the darkness found in Victorian, Romantic, and Gothic styles: cameos, aubrey beardsley, touches of black, black and cream combos, oddity rooms, curiosity shops, ribbons, satin, pressed flowers, lace, gargoyles, and so forth. Once upon a time when I had wayyyy too many facebook apps (as opposed to the too many I have whittled them down to), The Real Steven dedicated "Gothic Girl" by International Pony to me for a reason. Ch ch check it out @ http://youtube.com/watch?v=nvOlpiw9OHI. This one is definitely a winner.

So for the past few seasons, I was pleased to see that the fashion scene has been flirting with death. Remember when normal celebs like Lindsay Lohan and Sienna Miller started sporting black nail polish (Chanel, of course)? I say "normal," but what I really mean is anyone besides the rock n roll wannabees you'd expect to see hyping a dark manicure --e.g. Ashlee Simpson, Avril Lavigne, and Pete Wentz --who have probably had numerous slumber parties painting each other's digits with the dark gloss (On a sidenote -am I the only one slightly uncomfortable with Wentz's foray into Guy-liner?). Certainly you recall the coveted Alexander McQueen scarf that stole the skull from the hardcore and handed it over to the mainstream. Oh yes, even I had a tone-on-tone red striped tee emblazoned with a skull. I bought it at Dillards on sale. Yeah, I really am that cool.

Last summer & fall hinted further at a turn to the dark side. The ultimate line for disposable clothing and trend saturation Forever 21 had a collection entitled "Midnight Fantasy." It was dark and moody: romantic and rich fabrics of deep purples, grays, and blacks . And I liked it, or at least where it was heading. I distinctly remember a Libertine for Target cream silk scarf and a knotted front tee from Delia's bearing the new sort of print that was beginning to crop up, prints reminiscent of Victorian style scrapbooks and sketches. All these little buds promising gothic blooms was enough to make my black heart go pitter patter.

But as spring collections were unveiled this year, the dark trend that had been rising seemed to have died. Instead, designers showcased collections that hinged upon big and bright florals, tribal prints, and pastels. Disappointment wasn't exactly my feeling, but it was pretty close.

And then, thank god, Style.com descended down from the heavens carrying the gothic in tow. If you haven't visited the site yet, you're missing out on the chance to view practically any designer's entire runway collection. There I managed to find the gothic girly elements I was dreaming of. Be sure to check out Anna Sui, Miu Miu, and Prada (Spring 2008) to get your fix.

Prada's models graced the runway looking like ethereal pressed fairies risen straight from the underworld. And the layers upon layers of textures and prints was enough to work me into an inspiration frenzy. My black heart loved it. Or loves it! as Paris would scream.

At Miu Miu, Miuccia Prada presented a cleaner look but still following the gothic trend. It was girly too, although more
coquette-ish than the pretty frocks shown at Prada, with hemlines rising up-to-there. Just when fashion starts to bore me to death, Miuccia's designs jump in to resuscitate. I guess I owe her my life.

I also adore this crochet swimsuit shown at Topshop Unique, proving that even boho girls can take a walk on the dark side. A similar and equally fabulous version made by BCBG is available here in the States.

As I was brainstorming this blog installation, the New York Times Thursday style file informed me that the darkness didn't die as I had previously thought. Apparently it just hibernates during the spring and summer months when love, sunshine, and rainbows prance about. NYT reported that designers' fall 2008 collections were definitely taking a turn towards the dark, perhaps due to the mediocrity borne out of globalization and fears of recession. So fashion does appear to be going to the dark side, albeit slowly and on its tip-toes. If you are already prepping your fall look, and you know I am, prepare to cross over.

Bonus: I think they promise baked goods.

Moral of the Story: No matter what your signature look, it's easy to incorporate a little of the gothic and the girly. A little black never hurt anyone. However, head-to-toe gothic will leave you looking like one of the costumed shoppers of Hot Topic. Fashion faux-pas be damned!

Photos from Prada, Miu Miu, and Topshop shows taken from style.com


First Installation: Bringing Back Denim on Denim

I know what you’re thinking: was denim on denim ever really hip? Or was it simply the unfortunate mistake of the fashionably uncreative individuals of the 1990s who never heard of a khaki pant to go with their must-have piece –de- conformity, the iconic short sleeve GAP denim button-down? Yeah… you know what I’m talking about.

The tides of fashion rise and fall quickly and often without notice by John or Mary Q. Average. However, if the Levi’s Classic 501 challenge in Episode 9 of BRAVO Network’s fashion winner Project Runway tells us anything, it’s that denim IS hot. I must admit I’m a girl without cable TV (the easy access to fashion and celeb gossip is all I really miss), so my musings on the final products are without consideration of the judge’s choice, designer personalities, previous episodes, challenge rules, or catastrophes incurred. In fact, I don’t even know who won the or lost the challenge. Nonetheless…

Sweet P’s strapless wonder really did it for me. Her mix of the darkest and lightest washes was unseen in the other designer’s creations and the effect was modern and magical. Her flirty frock suggested a return to the minimalist simplicity of the 1990s ushered in by none other than Calvin Klein, picking up the current tide of fashion along its way and then pushing it slightly forward. Clean-cut and simple, the dress was far from masculine, harsh, or overly stiff. Perhaps it was the use of several different panels that kept the look so soft and feminine.

I also dug Ricky’s dark denim strapless dress complimented by a ruffled hem. Although it was certainly not on the bleeding edge of fashion, I’m a sucker for all things girly so I would most likely choose this dress to wear out in my own life. It’s also my pick for Most Likely to be Seen in Baton Rouge. However, the 60s up-do and mod boots were a huge miss. Instead, a flat (perhaps metallic?) sandal and a low side pony would keep it modern - away from overly seen, overly sexpot, overly done, flat-out over it. I’d even do a light denim cropped jacket for a breezy night. Denim on Denim, I’m bringing it back.

I’m not just a preacher; I am a practicer too. If you’ve ever gone to VELCRO, Baton Rouge’s indie-electro-hip-hop dance party held Wednesday nights at the Spanish Moon, then you might have seen me twirking the denim on denim look a couple weeks back. Inspired by a vintage long sleeve button down I came across, I emphasized the fact that I was indeed wearing a denim shirt by pairing it with nothing other than a pair of slightly darker wash jeans. In fashion, if you are going to do it, do it all the way. As one fashion maven told me, I looked like a fabulous early-90s urban Kate Moss. I don’t’ know about you, but I usually take comparisons to Kate Moss as a compliment, unless of course when referring to her infamous little habit shared with on-again off-again boyf Pete Doherty. But who are we kidding anyway? The blow to her rep was insignificant when seen atop the stack of Burberry, David Yurman, and Rimmel Cosmetic ads her pretty little face continues to grace. I suppose the blow really wasn’t a blow after all. For real though, that girl can do no wrong.

The random whisper of “You’re cute” by a fellow fashion conscious VELCRO attendee confirmed that the denim on denim look is spot on, even by Baton Rouge’s standards. And why not? The past couple of seasons have seen an influx of monochromatic looks, as well as jumpers, rompers, and onesies (pick your favorite term). Denim on denim is simply an extension of these trends. Still, a rather fashionable male comrade of mine was decidedly less enthused. He thought my seemingly fashion forward ensemble stunk of the 80s. Clearly, he didn't get it. I was a little surprised though, especially considering that this kid only shops at the GAP anyway. Didn't he remember that ever-present denim button down? Perhaps his memories of it are more like fashion nightmares.

In other denim news, be sure to check out this month’s issue (March) of Teen Vogue for their small spread on the arrival of light denim that isn’t so much your everyday American Eagle flare jeans from high school as an up-to-the-minute high fashion denim trend. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen denim go from the obligatory dark wash to candy colored and acid wash more recently. Perhaps the time, or rather tide, is right to rethink the light wash.

Whether you’re brave enough to work a denim on denim look, denim, in all its forms, is an American classic that only bears signs of revival. In recent years, denim has received a facelift and a nosejob (excuse me, rhinoplasty) with the aid of high-end brands such as Seven for All Mankind, Rock & Republic, JBrand, Notify, Citizens of Humanity, Paige Premium Denim, and the like. The aim of these brands is not just to make expensive lines of jeans (therefore imposing a market of desirability), but ultimately to rethink and reconstruct the jeans themselves and how we, the denim-wearers of the world, think of them. Not only that, they do actually make the booty look good. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Moral of the Story: Chances are that you are wearing denim right now, even if it is because you just ran to the grocery store after work. Denim is THE American wardrobe staple, but that doesn't mean you should surrender to ho-hum run of the mill denim. Get creative, get bold, get fashionable with your denim. There is no reason that you can’t look like your fabulous self at all times, even when picking up tonight’s microwaveable lasagna. At least one of you will be de-lish.