In Maison Martin Margiela Opening Ceremony

Go Forth And Collab-Create!

I will admit that my heart wept a bit after learning last year that Martin Margiela was stepping away from his namesake label.  It wasn't like a Helmut Lang or Jil Sander moment where they were kind of 'forced' to leave over creative differences and now have to watch their namesake collections designed by someone else.  Margiela chose to retire.  Was he burnt out?  Was he fed up?  Maybe both.  The fashion system houses a lot of artists but the nature of the system itself allows for business to grossly overshadow artistry at times.  Yes there are designers who will tell you that the two go hand in hand and that they are still persuaded by art and inspiration since customers must buy their creations.  However, there are few designers, in my opinion who have that innate edge to enable art to largely overtake commerce and have the public lap it up like fine wine in a punchbowl.  For me, Maison Martin Margiela has always been a label that pushed the boundaries of creativity through the medium of clothing design.  While the public has elevated it to fashion, the integrity of the label has always been about maintaining that level of creativity which I suppose because of its innovation has immediately been categorized as fashion.  Creative, artistic and forward-thinking has been the code of the house so it seems only natural that a collaboration with Opening Ceremony was in order.

The label has never needed to collaborate before, but it prizes itself on developing and going forward. In an article by honeyee the web magazine, the house states that "Our structure and our system of various lines enables to express out creativity on different levels and allows us to create the balance and coexistence between commercial and creative interests." This is key in understanding the capsule collection developed by the house for the store Opening Ceremony, a small Japanese-American chain that houses a bevy of innovative and fashion-forward brands. In going ahead, Margiela will continue to have things to express and seeing as how collaborations are proving great for promoting cult talents, a pairing with such a small renown chain seems natural.

This collection is a capsule collection in the true sense of a capsule collection. It's small in nature with interchangeable pieces. The collection is only for women this round (sorry fellas) and tells a strong story of layering. The core outerwear of the collection consists of two pieces, one faux fur knee length coat and one quilted moto jacket, that both have nylon liners underneath. However, each liner can be worn as a jacket and each style has the fabrication of its faux fur or quilted leather topper attached to it from the elbow down like gauntlets. It showcases the six different ways the coats can be worn and layered. The layering story was continued with a bright red tunic over a satiny skirt that once the top was removed, revealed how the skirt was part of a dress, how the tunic was cut in a halter style and how the sleeves of the tunic remained to become an entire blouse underneath. With this collection as always, Margiela introduced its wearers to new perspectives in dress and layering with leather stirrups that merge with boots and a snap away leather bag that affords the wearer to decide how much bag she wants to don. Peppered throughout the rest of the collection are wonderful paired down Margiela staple separates like amazingly fuzzy cable knits, color-blocked wool knit tunic/dresses, leg-warmers that can pose as trousers, zip front cardigan/vest ensembles, 'switchable' bibbed trousers and 'optical illusion' leather meets denim jean hybrids. A great story on the strength, interchangeability and versatility of layering, which is an essential and modern approach to a sellable, well thought-out capsule collection.

Innovative? Always! Must one pay attention? Yes! In the hands of Margiela, Opening Ceremony has a collection that will further offer their informed savvy consumers not just premium pieces from an iconic label, but also ideas to dress more logically and enlightened. In the hands of Opening Ceremony, Maison Martin Margiela will have a broader range of admirers; but not too broad, afterall this is creativity, not fashion.

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In Lubin

Common Scents

I should probably be embarrassed to reveal that I didn't really learn to "sip the whiskey".  This is what I was told by a good friend of mine one evening when I discovered the delight of that brown spirit.  On its own it packs a punch, but when blended with ginger ale, it sorta tastes like punch.  Hence, why I am always ready to down it like lemonade instead of sipping it like liquor.  But after a few tipsy evenings from Miami to New York and a comical story about me resting briefly in my hedges, I've learned to sip so I don't meet my 'Makers',  get 'Jack'ed up or wind up fighting 'Johnny'.  There's something about the taste and the slight almost sweet distinct aroma that conjers up memories of fun nights and good times.  Responsibly, of course!

I would never think to imagine that perfumeries nowadays would put all sorts of things in their bottles, but they do.  I also understand that they are aware of the power of scents and the legacy it leaves behind that leaves a lasting impression.  I remember the first times I smelled the fresh scent on lime while visiting Jamaica when I was four years old, I remember my oddly liking the smell of fresh gasoline my dad would pump into his van and I remember the first time I smelled that aroma of rum under my nose at my first West Indian 'not in Kansas anymore' party.  Scents leave powerful impressions and are very inspiring as they can paint a bigger picture for us by taking us back to a collective memory or bringing us to a greater level of personal retrospect.  Like for example, many magazines now will attach the name of a scent to a photo story because that fragrance may just help the reader capture the mood of what the photographer and art director are trying to say.  Soft sell advertising, yes, but also a way to give a photo and certain kind of three dimensional appeal while completing and heightening the photographic experience.

Modernized Idole
Original 1962 Idole

I was immediately intrigued at an recent event in New York when I smelled "Idole" by Lubin.  What I thought was whiskey turned out to be notes of rum.  Still utterly intrigued, I had to know more.  The scent was originally created in 1962 by this perfumery with a long history of making iconic fragrances from some the of world's most eclectic notes and for some of histories most eclectic people like Grace Kelly.  They've since modernized the scent and relaunched it.  I found myself taken away with the delicate island aromas of rum, sugar cane and bitter orange peel together with the masculine essences of smoked ebony, red sandalwood and leather.  The scent was reminiscent of a man with a tender strength, confident in the quality of what he knows and not necessarily with the quantity of what he knows.  The sweet/savory elements keep him rounded and approachable while the more masculine elements balance out the savory without emasculating him.  I am already conjuring up a photoshoot in my head.   Check out more on this historical perfumery at

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In Betsey Johnson

Hate That I Love You So

Slow and somber ballads sung sweetly have always comforted me for some reason.  Maybe its the expressing of emotion that seems so genuine that it makes me smile at the prospect of love enduring through the good and bad.  Maybe it's that I was just a hopeless romantic.  Or maybe it was that listening to someone else's pain forced me to face my own and then in turn helped me to heal my own.  Was it community of company in my misery?  The fact that I was musically connecting with someone who'd possibly gone through a similar pain like I had?  It's enough to drive you insane trying to at one minute be tough and face healing and the next feel like dwelling and wallowing, unwilling and unable to go on.  I guess this is one of the angst-causing instances of love and life where you don't know how or if you want to heal, you second guess, you over-think and you wonder why.  Then you find that someone wants to help because they've been there, they help you stand, you get back in the race.  I suspect this causes periods of light and dark with passion knocking against confusion and liberation.  This was Betsey Johnson Fall 2011, a story of the light and dark of when they 'love you and when they love you not.'

Ms. Johnson obviously decided to make clothes rather than music.  However, the clothing sang a song.  Through layers and frills and mixing goth darkness with girlish whimsy, she told a story of survival.  Almost all the models sauntered out with bottom layers of colored animal prints fitting like a sheer 'survival in the wild game of love' second skin.  Structured lace-stamped bobs with bangs and dark  dreamy makeup completed the tough exterior while Ms. Johnson continued to evolve her strong feline through the top layers.  Full flurry skirts, vintage-esque coats, feminine blouses and romantic dresses in deep colors like navy, magenta, purple and black in bevies of floral, scores of lace, animal prints and plaids told a story of every kind of woman's plight to survive.  Pretty 'he loves me, he loves me not' velvety flowers also accented tweedy textures, novelty knits, her infamous velvets and faux furs pushed the collection in a way that yelled for all women to find a commune under the Betsey Johnson umbrella where you find fun in life no matter what it hurls at you.

The traditional runway presentation ended with throngs of 'real women' (just non-models) in blond Betsey wigs strutting down the runway in her new lower priced line.  It was classic Betsey Johnson-fun complete with her dancing and famed cartwheel.  It told a song on 'staying strong even through the rain' and that sometimes, even if you know you'll heal well enough, maybe it's not so bad if he doesn't love you.

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