Browse Month by September 2017
Fashion

We’re All Just Copycats: Style Icons

Style is as unique as it is a total sham. We copy, we remix, and we take from those in the spotlight, people otherwise known as style icons.

There are the staples, women that all women love and want to be like: Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Rihanna, Beyoncé, or whatever supermodel of the year is being indulged by Vogue Magazine…Karlie Kloss for some time, now one or both of the Hadids and so on.

If you speak with those entrenched in style you might find some cult favorites: Carine Roitfeld or Leandra Medine, for example. And as for men, I’m afraid I’ve not heard many of them claim to be inspired by anyone (dirty liars, they’ve got to have eyes on someone.)

Personally, I’ve got more than a few and I’m certain some of them are obvious, but today I want to tell a story about one of my icons. She keeps coming up in my mind and I suppose these days she’s emerging as my inspiration more than others.

caroline in menswear

Caroline de Maigret, Wanda Nylon, and my first Fashion Week

It was the year 2016. The month of March, early March. Still chilly in Paris, but with some bright sunshine attempting to filter through the city’s characteristic gray, especially beautiful during what the English call “the gloaming” and what the french refer to as “le crépescule.”

My first fashion show ever. I had popped into a presentation for a brand called Sixth June, but it was hardly fashion week caliber—this was the real deal. My friend Hannah and I, invitations late to our mailboxes, shouted our names and our publication at the bouncer amidst the beautiful people.

Inside the drafty and unfinished building I wondered how this was a venue just as much as Grand Palais, but I liked the grittiness.

hannah walking through show venue
Location of the Wanda Nylon show.

The show was Wanda Nylon. I had done very cursory preliminary research on her. Apparently she made some very interesting outerwear.

When we climbed the dark stairs we stumbled upon a makeshift runway, the lights necessary for good photos were all that seemed important. There was hardly anything else save for two or three rows of white benches for guests. I would be standing room, of course.

clear invitation on the floor
An invitation on the floor.

I huddled close to my friend, my only comfort. There might have been champagne, seemed to always be free champagne at these things. And then I gasped quietly and jabbed Hannah in the side. There she was.

Caroline de Maigret right here at the same show I was at. In the flesh. Wearing her typical look: the leather jacket, messy hair, and excellent jeans. She looked so casual, like she had just come in off of the streets to grace us at this show, hardly Chanel or Dries Van Noten. (That’s a thing to like at Paris Fashion Week, it’s not all about status.)

cdm street style
Caroline de Maigret—iconic Parisian model, music producer, and admirable person.

In my fervent excitement, I wondered if I should get a photo or video for our publication, but I thought no, that’d be exploiting this moment. And I couldn’t annoy her in this way, film her like a wild animal. I was jiggling with joy, my legs jittering and I think maybe she noticed because she looked up and smiled at me.

Looked straight at me and smiled. I’ll never forget it. That’s a kindness many who’ve made it in the industry wouldn’t bestow on a nobody.

Eye-skimming bangs, unbrushed hair, and je ne sais quoi

Caroline de Maigret is not your typical fashionista, nor your typical model. She’s not full glam and she has plenty of physical flaws on view. She does not work out, in fact she quite detests it. And, as a New York Times interview so aptly puts it:

“Ms. de Maigret…is a count’s daughter who left the Sorbonne to model, left modeling to produce rock music, and left music to return to modeling.”

Not your run-of-the-mill indeed.

More and more, I find I am reaching for the kind of style she represents, a look that says I don’t have to wash my hair or perfectly blend an eyeshadow. I’ve always loved the unstructured look of loose menswear—clothes that allow you to eat while you’re out.

cdm reading

I should mention too, that’s she’s written a book with her parisian friends, Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, and Sophie Mas, titled How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits.

And of course it’s one of my bibles, since my day to day lifestyle is attempting to be as parisian as possible.

cdm with wallpaper

To me Caroline de Maigret represents not only a style, but a lifestyle and her decision to write a book about being parisian shows me she understands this concept and is consciously considering her style as more than outward appearance.

There is a sort of preoccupation with the “je ne sais quoi” (the “I don’t know what”) of French women by American women. We’re obsessed with trying to find ways to be them, even if our lives and our culture make that almost impossible. This was made more obvious when I couldn’t even find a copy of the book in France, in french bookstores, that were written in french.

Caroline de Maigret wryly understands this and finds ways to pinpoint the paradoxical, complex, and hypocritical nature of French, specifically parisian women. I especially like her features in YouTube videos on the subject.

Light reading au café

It only makes sense that when I mentally return to de Maigret that I return to the book in question.

A lot of the blathering fashion and life advice I often give (unsolicited most likely…I send warm gratitude to friends who have amused me) is along the same vein of this book. The truth is out. I had to let you think it was all me for as long as possible.

illustrated page

The kind of particular advice in here is enough to make you consider your every move and I’d be confident in claiming that every style icon you follow or genuflect to follows the same kind of meticulous consideration, even if that attitude is to be seemingly carefree. After all, appearing to be careless takes a lot of work.

Parisian women, and I would venture to say this book as well, give us the sort of insight that can lessen the insecurities we may have about our lack of “Riri-ness” or “Chung-ness”, that all of us have a practiced look and attitude. After all, an entire city has a famous practiced attitude, why shouldn’t everyone else?

Pretenders pretending

The above quote caught my eye and its ironic appearance in a book telling me exactly how to be something I may not actually be is the essence of the parisian. She’s just grasping at her passions and trying to pretend she’s doing so casually. It’s exactly why I subscribe to my own blend of stolen icons. The reason we all pretend what we’re doing is natural.

And I think, much with any sort of art, that the art of being a person is rooted in this balancing act. It will be paradoxical, hypocritical, and fickle. It will change from full-glam to au naturel in mere months, days, or seconds.

Much like the constant minute changes in our personalities and philosophies, we have icons to look to, to find inspiration in and to formulate, at the very least, our outward appearance, our armor.

Because you can go to battle with the best ideology, but you’re nothing without some really excellent armor.

Bisous,

 

 

 

 

Who is your current style icon? Or icon in general?

Beauty

It’s Blinding: RiRi and Kim K’s Beauty Marketing

Newly crowned queen of fashion week, Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty, recently launched her own line of beauty products, two years in the making. Since the announcement of the launch, gurus and enthusiasts have been shaking with anticipation and I can safely say the megastar delivered.

rihanna doing someone's makeup at launch

And while Rihanna is insanely popular, her line’s popularity comes at least in part from its inclusivity. Fenty Beauty boasts a whopping 40 foundation shades with varying undertones for multitudes of skin tones. They retail for $34, along with other mid-priced items like a foundation brush, sponge, blotting papers, and a newly designed highlighter brush.

If you’re new to the beauty community or someone who doesn’t concern themselves with it (though it’s big enough that you might as well be aware of it) the lack of representation for women of color has long been an unwon battle.

40 foundation shades

This meticulously developed project in collaboration with Kendo (makers of Bite Beauty, Kat Von D, and Marc Jacobs; owned by LVMH) has been lauded by many for its diverse product. What’s more, the website boasts a widget for discovering your shade and the issue of selling out of products has been shockingly avoided due to back stock preparation.

Fenty Beauty launched duo-highlighters retailing for $34 and a single highlighter with a drooling social media adoration called “Trophy Wife”, as well as a universal gloss entitled “Gloss Bomb” retailing for $18.

celebrity beauty, killawatt highlighter
Trophy Wife, killawatt highlighter.

Are you sensing a theme here? If not, Rihanna’s philosophy towards her line might shed some light on it.

“She launched a makeup line “so that women everywhere would be included,” focusing on a wide range of traditionally hard-to-match skin tones, creating formulas that work for all skin types, and pinpointing universal shades.” fentybeauty.com

The cherry on top? It’s cruelty-free, paraben-free, mostly vegan (minus some beeswax, carmine, etc), and manufactured without ingredients that contain gluten though they can’t guarantee there aren’t any traces of gluten throughout manufacturing.

It’s the millennial’s dream marketing campaign: eco-friendly practices, lack of toxic materials, inclusive shades, mid-price point, and headed by a fiercely independent mogul. And it comes at the perfect time to be juxtaposed with another colossal launch that took an effective approach deeply different than Fenty Beauty’s.

KKW Beauty | Millennial Pink without the Kumbaya

Ah, the Kardashians. Since their foray into the beauty industry with Kim, Kourtney, and Khloé heading a family line for drugstores, they’ve slowly ascended to mid-range to luxury prices for their products. Their drugstore attempt wasn’t received well, as well as their rebranding of it years past its launch. Their real boost to makeup relevance came from Kim’s famed contouring and Kylie’s liquid lips that matched her newly filled lips.

Piggybacking off of Kylie’s line of liquid lips, highlighters, and shadows (though look no further than Colourpop for similar shades and formulas; their mother company makes her lip kits) and her famed makeup look, Kim released liquid lips, contour/highlighter sticks, and contour palettes under KKW Beauty.

kkw stick swatches
Swatches for the contour sticks.

One major difference between Fenty Beauty and KKW is the shade range. Obviously contour kits don’t require 40 shades, but surely they require more than fair, medium, dark, and deep dark, many beauty gurus and buyers have reasoned. This was the main complaint along with the travel-size like packaging and the retail price for the sticks: $48. Not to mention the price of the powder palettes: $52.

kkw powder contour
Powder contour swatches for KKW Beauty.

As for the liquid lips, many reviewers complained that they were nearly all the same variation of one shade and hardly encompassed the needs of most skin types. These retailed for $45 and were “made by Kylie Cosmetics” but all of this really means that the makeup is all produced under Seed Beauty, who makes Colourpop famously, though their brands tab mentions two “confidential” brands, of which I can only assume one is KKW.

Despite all of these issues, of course KKW products sold out in little to no time. What’s fascinating to me, however, is why.

Bringing it to the People

So how do you market your celebrity-backed makeup successfully? Your name creates some considerable hype, certainly, but that isn’t the only thing that floats a product.

These ladies have chosen different avenues and they’re effective in their own ways.

Kim K chose her typical means of creating hype—exclusivity. It’s a mainstream strain of exclusivity, if you can understand the sentiment. She wants to appeal to a large swath of people, but she wants to draw back that appeal with an urgency.

Her product wasn’t stocked enough to make it through a launch and subsequently, sold out very quickly, creating a frantic demand for her contour kits and also justifying her price: “you want them? pay for this exclusive product hand-designed by Kim K” and of course the fans and reviewers will pay.

However, not all reviewers paid, full press kits of all of KKW products were sent to the largest influencers on YouTube and on beauty blogs, ensuring that she got a wide volume of reviews (reviews which would be unable to be objective due to the free product and who knows if they got a payout.)

What’s more, Kim K invited the biggest and brightest YouTube stars with hundreds of thousands of followers to an exclusive launch party, where she took many photo ops and posted nearly all of them on social media. Try making a bad review after that.

celebrity beauty, kkw and influencers at launch party
Kim, Influencers Jeffree Star, James Charles, and Amanda Ensing.

These influencers all got their own tag and post on instagram on both Kim K’s page and her new beauty line’s page. There was a slight scandal when Kim K forgot (under debate) to tag Jackie Aina, a prominent black YouTuber famous for her blazing honesty and critique of brands who don’t represent women of color, in her photo. Aina had given an honest review that wasn’t quite shining, but not totally negative towards KKW Beauty. Eyebrows around the internet raised.

celebrity beauty, jackie aina and kim k
Jackie Aina and Kim K, the famed untagged picture.

On top of this brilliant hype creation and the inclusion of advertising new age influencers (much like fashion embracing fashion bloggers with front row seating and clothing brand deals), Kim K went as far as to show up on YouTube’s biggest beauty bloggers’ channels and show them with her product how she contoured.

I have to applaud her for her brilliance. Or at least her PR/Marketing team’s brilliance.

celebrity beauty, kim k and jaclyn hill
Jaclyn Hill, with Kim K on her channel. The video was largely regarded as awkward.

That’s not all, she uploaded to her own YouTube channel with a video entitled “Kim Does Her Own Makeup” and the third-person referential in the title, along with it being a remotely interesting video despite such a banal activity, is what makes all of it so effective. We’re held at a distance with a beautifully false “look” into her life. It makes viewers hungry to be like her and to get closer to her.

celebrity beauty, kim k youtube video

Again, it’s smart, very smart, but it isn’t immune to consequences and it certainly omits some ethical precarity. Besides Kim Kardashian being a hot topic for both supporters of her and those who disdain her, she has opened the floodgates for celebrity YouTube appearance, which could overshadow the already tapering “average Joe” presence on the platform (see networks like NBC, who are whittling away such views and revenue) and give way to more merciless advertising.

Second, a simple look on her website versus Fenty’s gives us the kind of view into customer satisfaction that we will (or won’t) be getting: all sales are final, don’t expect quick confirmation of orders because of the volume of orders, you can’t reserve product, and you can only buy online.

Questions are telling, because it’s either what they’ve heard the most or expected to hear.

Giving it to the People

There are plenty of marked differences between Rihanna’s strategy and Kim K’s; I certainly don’t have the time and space to cover it all and I’m sure if you’re brave enough to read this far you’re not looking to be here all day.

The main difference here is hyping with exclusivity and inclusivity. Rihanna announced her beauty line on Twitter in May, promising the launch in the fall. Her website was a black screen with a simple email sign-up to notify those interested when it was time to launch.

We heard nearly nothing until days before and then we had another smart move, but this time in the way of Rihanna:

It’s such a good move and the way a lot of consumers want to see the industry turn. A model with an hijab? Multiple women of color? Natural, but empowered?

The hype rose and at last, a launch party as well as a Sephora meetup took place and the products launched with social media tapping away.

People were blown away by the sheer amount of shades and the careful explanation Rihanna gave whenever questioned: wanted everyone to feel pretty, wanted shades anyone could use.

A glance at her Fenty Beauty website will tell you instantly: the line is about you. She’s not the feature, plenty of multicolored models dot the pages of product and information—you nearly forget you’re on a celebrity’s beauty site. At the bottom we’re treated with a social media widget asking us to share our “Fenty Faces” where you can see girls already sharing.

When we head to KKW, it’s Kim, Kim, and Kim with not a model in sight. Even her lip products are variations of her name: Kim, Kiki, Kimmie, Kimberly.

Fenty Beauty claims boldly that it’s the “New Generation of Beauty”, but it’s to be seen which of these marketing ploys plays out to be the winner.

Even if you aren’t fascinated with this as I am, it’s best to be aware of how, as consumers, we’re poked, prodded, and moved to purchase some things over others. So score the websites, read as much as you can, and discover where it is these items come from.

Because like Trophy Wife and KKW’s highlighters, the hype is blinding.

Bisous,

 

Fashion

Work Wear

Labor day was yesterday and it struck me that I did not remotely know what Labor day was for and why we had it off.

So of course I googled it and scored through a few sources to bust that mystery open (if it’s still a mystery to you.)

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, it’s always the first Monday in September and it is in recognition of “the social and economic achievements of American workers.” (Source.)

Can you believe I didn’t know that? Especially given the name of the day! It got me thinking about how we take a lot of those achievements for granted, along with the day itself (I mean, some people ironically still work.) But this is a blog that concerns itself with clothing, among other things, and I thought about how a lot of our favorite styles come straight from the bodies of workers. So without further ado, here are some fantastic fashions that came from laborers themselves.

(And maybe next time you wear any of them, you can spare some silent gratitude their way.)

Boiler Suits

I know, I know. You have no idea what that is. Let me enlighten you.

Now clearly not all of these are vintage workwear, but the inspiration is clearly working class. The boiler suit’s origins are quite similar to their namesake: the men who maintained coal-fired boilers wore these to protect themselves. They are, after all, perfect for protection: rough materials, no gaps in the garment, long pocket in the front for tool storage, etc.

They are also fantastic one-piece fashion statements. Of course, like other borrowed pieces, you have to be willing to work with the lack of fit (or, if you’re very attached, tailor it to you) and to roll up your sleeves quite literally.

Mechanic Shirts

You’ve seen these. Likely on the backs of rebel teens from movies set in the 60s. Or in your local vintage store, waiting for someone to take up the name Earl once more.

The fun in these shirts is imagining who these people once were and taking up their name as a badge of legitimacy. Oh you have a cool tee? I have Earl’s shirt.

julian casablancas garbage collector shirt
Source: https://www.last.fm/music/Julian+Casablancas/+images/b04a1e6bc8914913b5e3b23f86b39057

The photo above is, if you’re a huge Strokes fan, a classic Julian Casablancas look. It’s unforgettable, this garbage collector shirt. You don’t even know.

The origins of these shirts are rather obvious as well: automobile workers wore these, embroidered with their company logo and name and the style spread to other professions with uniforms. It’s a classic look that bled into the rebellious counter-culture and then, of course, into fashion.

The Flat Cap

(You may be more familiar with its popular name, the Newsboy Cap.)

This headwear goes as far back as 14th century England and it really hit the ground running when parliament passed a law in 1571 to protect their oh-so-precious wool trade, decreeing that all non-noble men over six wear wool caps on Sundays and on holidays, lest they pay a fine.

You can imagine it became a popular look and the flat cap became The Look of all non-nobles and, in the 19th and 20th centuries, the working-class signifier.

With the working class in decline since the mid-20th century, the cap has found its home in the middle-class and sometimes the upper class, despite its peasant origins.

 

I do hope you enjoyed your day off and all the work that people in the past put in to get you that day off, as well as all of the fabulous clothing they brought us because of their jobs.

Try not to feel too guilty while you’re wearing a flat cap and thinking about how it was the signature look of the plebeian types! Eek.

Bisous,