28 February 2007

Bisous, Balenciaga!

Last season I complained about what I felt was laziness on the part of Nicolas Ghesquière. Though his Mod-recycled looks were fabulous, they were, well, recycled. I am excited to see that he took a completely different route for Fall 2007! This is the kind of fashion that inspires me. Vive la mode obscure!

Blazer after beautiful blazer came down the runway. Many models gave off a vibe of posh English sportsmen. Others looked layered and comfy, like they were wearing laundry day outfits. Others looked exotic and peasant-like. Vibrant pashminas paired with stripes. Primary-colored heels and tweed. Argyle and velvet.

(pics courtesy of style.com)

27 February 2007

More Intellectual Elitism

Mary-Kate Olsen has forayed into journalism, debuting this week in the New York Times. Not a shabby newspaper in which to debut. Many talented journalists spend their careers living paycheck-to-paycheck, pounding the pavement, trying to make connections and get work. For the most ambitious, the New York Times is a dream gig. Mary-Kate Olsen does not know the meaning of "paycheck-to-paycheck", she might know what ambition means, but she certainly has connections because by the looks of her writing, it wasn't her writing talent that got her the job:
I have a large, red quilted Chanel bag that I borrowed from my sister Ashley. I wore it to an event and never gave it back. Luckily, she's moved on to another bag, so I'm safe for now. I'm not quite sure how many bags I have, but let's just say I have a few. When I find a bag I like, I tend to wear it to death until I become obsessed with another one. This probably happens three to five times a year. But I always come back to the Chanel. The size isn't overwhelming, and it has enough subtle detail to keep it interesting.

I also have the smaller version in blue and in white, but the red is definitely my favorite. I don't have a stylist — I'd rather just do my own thing and put together my own outfits. The chain-handle bag is the perfect accent to almost any combination I come up with. I look at everything with a designer's eye, but I wouldn't change a thing about this bag. I think that's why it's a true classic.
And there you have it. Are you inspired? Moved to action? Educated?

I'm not sure what she was asked to write, but the result appears to be a primary school assignment. "Alright class, go home and write two paragraphs about your favorite toy and why you like it." Mary-Kate seems to have been grasping for content towards the end, trying to stretch into two paragraphs what could've been said in one sentence. Here's a lesson in brevity:

"My name is Mary-Kate and I like my Chanel purse because it's shiny and red."

Intellectual Elitism and Crushing on Jake Gyllenhaal

I don't crush on celebrities much, and when I do, it typically depends on my assessment of their general intelligence and global consciousness. George Clooney is a good example of my crush-type. Wentworth Miller is also attractive, and when he opens his Princeton-educated mouth, he remains attractive in my eyes. Jake Gyllenhaal, too, has yet to fall from grace. I appreciate that he was man enough to be in Brokeback Mountain and I appreciate that he went to Columbia University and typically avoids the sycophantic Los Angeles lifestyle (in my estimation) and has links to the ACLU and Not In Our Name on his website.

I also appreciate that when I literally ran into him as I was coming out of Joan's on Third and his large German Shepherd lanced me in the crotch, he didn't seem like an asshole.

But more practically speaking, I appreciate that he can wear a classic suit and not feel the need to pair it with Nike's and a hoodie like so many of his peers.

Klompen Couture?

I love The Netherlands and all the things it represents politically and artistically. It's The Progressive of the Progressives. Amsterdam has more museums per capita than any other major city. The Netherlands gave us Rembrandt, van Gogh, Vermeer, Mondrian, Audrey Hepburn and Viktor & Rolf. It gave you me, too. When my paternal ancestors left The Netherlands and arrived in what was then known as New Amsterdam (now New York), they were the Hoppes. In order to Anglicize, they changed their name to Hopper. So it's thanks to them that I always get, "Any relation to Dennis?" (The answer is no, by the way. And no to Hedda and Edward as well.)

My parents keep a pair of Dutch clogs sitting on our hearth. When I was younger, my feet were small enough that I would teeter around in them. But I've never seen klompen quite like the ones that were marched down the catwalk at Viktor & Rolf. Is this just a cobbled homage to the Moederland, or will would-be trendsetters actually starting clomping around in klompen?

(pic courtesy of style.com)

25 February 2007

It Should Go Without Saying...

Great composition, great palette, great set design, great makeup, great hair, great stylist... but it should go without saying that this bag is truly hideous.

Oscar's Best Dresses

First Prize: Gwyneth Paltrow in Zac Posen. The near-rust color paired with coral lips is unexpected and refreshing. The intricate pleating, true-waist and mermaid skirt create a graceful silhouette. I also prefer her simple hair. It makes the entire ensemble appear understated and effortless.
Second Prize: Penelope Cruz in Versace. The bodice of this dress is stunning, the rosy champagne color beautifully complements her complexion and the skirt gives her a flamenco vibe. I was hoping she'd win for Volver. Her performance was the most nuanced acting I've seen in a while.

Bygones Won't Be Bygones

My most recent footwear acquisitions are a pair of Frye heels and a pair of men's oxfords. Looking at them side by side in my closet I can't help but think of Fred Astaire and all his leading ladies: Ginger Rogers, Rita Hayworth, Leslie Caron.

I grew up watching the films of Fred Astaire because they were among the few that passed my parents' censorship standards. Though I resented this as a child, I have become grateful over the years that I grew up with the beauty, class and fashion of Old Hollywood.

My shoes have made me nostalgic for these films and for a bygone era in which I never lived. That's why fashion is powerful. It's evocative, transcendent and romantic.

24 February 2007

Is She Filming a Mia Farrow Biopic?

She should be wearing a nightgown and carrying a knife.

Adopting The Arcane

Less obvious fashion choices always catch my eye. Less obvious choices eliminate, by definition, generic choices. And by generic, of course, I mean over-played, over-exposed and unoriginal fashion. Carrie Bradshaw immediately lodged herself into the canon by making consistently less-obvious choices. When 'safe' dressers and less experimental people look at Carrie's wardrobe, they immediately run to their fashion manuals and say, "See, look! You're never supposed to mix patterns!" or "I knew it! Never wear black and navy!" But the fact is, these people can rarely pull off any outfit, no matter how textbook, because their insecurities overshadow their fashion. Carrie may have been neurotic, but she could confidently strut in any ensemble.
This fashion season has been overwhelmed by outfits I would call 'safe'. Black has dominated almost every runway. I love black, and I wear it frequently, but unless you're Sienna Miller, it's basically impossible to go wrong with it. There's no element of risk.
Which is why Missoni and Pucci have revitalized my interest in the season. Note the blending and layering of textures, patterns, casual and couture; bulky, matte knits over chic high sheen; cool hats.
(pics from style.com)

15 February 2007

Models of Style

The New York Times has an article called "Tasty Tastemakers of The Runway" featuring the personal styles of models.
Savvy, inventive and often cash-strapped, models are adept at improvisation, mastering the mix of high and low. Their off-hours attire, pieced together from designer collections and vintage finds, is scrutinized as an indicator of fashion’s next hits.
It seems many young models are following in the footsteps of their wide-eyed predecessor Penelope Tree, while others are getting back to their 1980s roots.

I'm excited to see a pair of menswear Oxfords worn backstage. I recently purchased a nearly-identical pair second-hand and have found I can wear them with anything. I've worn them with skinny jeans, cuffed jeans, mini-dresses and mini-skirts. They're the ultimate in versatile footwear.

pics courtesy of NYT

05 February 2007

The Must-Have Accessory

A living muff that cuddles back:

02 February 2007

Inarticulate Inspiration

Last Summer, when I started I Hate Generic on a reactionary whim, I was very interested in beating people over the head with individualism. I was on the verge of plummeting into the depths of the fashion doldrums. My city is decidedly unfashionable. Although it can be quite pleasant and attractive, offering vast panoramic views of the Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier, its denizens leave something to be desired in the realm of style. As I struggle to avoid elitism, the only explanation for my tawdry-clad fellow citizens is that they lack a certain, eh, je ne sais quoi... air of intelligence? Can that be said without elitism? Probably not. I suppose I'm volunteering myself for social crucifixion, but I do think I'm on to something.

I've recently returned from traveling in Europe where I visited many cities, including London, Paris, Rome and Zurich. Sprinkled between those major hubs were tiny, ancient villages and middle class suburbs. Since returning home, I've been struggling to define what it is that I love about Europe. I love it, there's no doubt. It would be easy for me to say that I love it because of all the things it isn't, namely American. I do love that about it.

But here are some other partially-formulated thoughts: Europe commands respect, it doesn't demand it. It is old and sturdy, without being austere. Without being patronizing, it is like an elderly war veteran for whom I have utmost respect. America's the over-privileged punk on the playground, and Europe is the decorated veteran. When I travel in the States, as I have, in no place have I involuntarily become quiet out of respect. Not in New York, not in Washington, D.C., and certainly not in Seattle or Los Angeles. The U.S. demands respect without commanding it. And that can be taken politically, ethnoarchaeologically, architecturally or however. All of the above.

There are things that are so exclusively European that they're nearly impossible to pinpoint. They don't exist elsewhere and they aren't conspicuous or overt.

When I am at home for too long, I can begin to feel like a tire with a slow leak. I can walk around Seattle and enjoy it to some extent, but it does nothing to prevent me from totally deflating. Walking around London and Paris, I felt like I was going to explode. The museums, the architecture, the history, the fashion, the parks, the monuments, the rivers, the stateliness, the music, the ethnodiversity that is totally unrivaled anywhere in the States, all of it stimulated me to a fullness, or awareness, that I've never experienced before.

But the truly fantastic thing is the subtlety of this feeling. It creeps up on you. And I think that is what I want to see in the fashion world: a kind of subtle inspiration that is almost imperceptible, and never contrived. I want to see fashion that's effortless but emphatic. I want to see fashion that looks smart, not juvenile. Confident but not arrogant. European, not American.

(photo courtesy of The Sartorialist)

01 February 2007

Quite Seriously, Kate...

This mid-90s thing must stop. Just because it's Armani doesn't mean it's attractive. You look like a child playing dress-up who has raided the closet of your mother who happens to be the dowdy wife of a Conservative politican. In 1995. Really... the bi-textured blazer, the brooch, the clutch, the chunky drop earrings, the matte and matronly lipstick?

Doesn't this look like she's attending the funeral of some deceased statesman? This was Paris Fashion Week.

I Adore This Girl

Natalie Portman is a breath of fresh air in the dank world of Hollywood. While her peers are flashing their crotches and skipping AA meetings, she remains out of the limelight and actually produces decent films.

She's a Harvard grad, a graceful celebrity and has successfully restored my faith in the classic black ensemble. Sienna Miller, take note.