>Fashion V. Clothes: Post #2 – How to Make a Piece of Clothing into FASHION

23 Sep

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TEXT, VIVIAN KELLY

The last day of the 8-day marathon that is Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is always the toughest to be motivated for. I had a backstage interview with one of my favorite designers, Naeem Khan,
to look forward to. From him I expected a collection that would allow me to bring this Spring 2011 collection season to a fashionable close. He did not disappoint, and in fact, exceeded my already high expectations. Look for this post next week. My day took an unexpected turn when I got a notice
about an event hosted by Woolrich
featuring photographer, Douglas Kirkland. The home office is full of oversized books on fashion and those photographs serve to inspire and remind me daily of what fashion is. Douglas Kirkland has photographed some of the fashion icons of the last 40 years and some of his photos are in that inspirational space for me. On the list of notables he’s captured in his lens: Marilyn Monroe, Mick Jagger, Coco Chanel, and Brigitte Bardot.

Even so I found it odd for him to be doing a book for the Woolrich Clothing Company. There it is right in their name, Woolrich is clothing…case closed, right? On closer inspection, however, maybe not. In our ongoing discussion of what is fashion and what is clothing one aspect we should consider is the question, “How can one make a piece of clothing into fashion?”

A Woolrich coat in and of itself is not fashion. On the surface, it is a piece of utilitarian clothing meant to keep you warm while one rakes leaves or shovels snow. None of those activities happen often here in Manhattan. If you see a Woolrich coat on Madison Avenue it is usually on one of the delivery guys. Then I found out about this limited edition Woolrich red and black jacket with a white lamb collar I’m dying to get my hands on, once I realized how good I could make it look on a cool fall day wearing one of the great fall looks underneath.

Far fall, I’m thinking of Michael Kors’ chunky black cashmere sweater and thick trouser,

warm enough to keep the chill out. I’d wear it in early spring too, but paired with something lighter, like Christian Siriano’s black bootcut trouser,
and B Michael’s
perfect white shirt I’m utterly obsessed with. To accessorize the look, I’d go with comfort, as in a pair of George Esquivel’s

suede Oxfords with leather trim detailing, and pair of black and red TouchTec gloves from GASPAR GLOVES. BE&D’s ‘Dallas’ lambskin shoulder bag
is big enough for my laptop, and it’s got whipstitch detailing on the top flap and handle, which matches the gloves.

I then started thinking about fashionable women who looked every bit as chic “dressed down” as they did “dressed up”. Teen Vogue Fashion Director, GLORIA BAUME,
is just such a woman. My first glimpse of Gloria was when she came into the Michael Kors showroom. It was the dead of winter and Gloria then at Glamour, came in wearing a suede and lambskin “Elmer Fudd” hat.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how chic and right she looked in a piece of outerwear that was so attainable. I’d just started working in the fashion biz, and was starved for the seemingly effortless glamour girls like Gloria exuded. That night, I went home to CT and bought a tan suede Woolrich hat. This simple item was bestowed with fashion magic. All I had to do was to put it on and I felt fashionable. Over fifteen years later, I still have and wear the hat. Another important quality about good fashion is that it holds-up, and doesn’t fall apart – as a “GO designer collection” item does after a few wears.

The fact that the hat’s still holding up is a testament to this 180 year-old company’s commitment to quality.

As I researched this article, I came across a picture I’d saved on my desktop of the fabulous Kate Moss. This is one of my favorite photographs of her, taken in 2005. She’s wearing a pair of Wellington boots, leaving a concert with then-boyfriend, Pete Doherty, lead singer of his band, Babyshambles. Before Kate made Wellies cool, Hunter Wellington boots were something that fisherman and stable hands, not fashionistas, wore. After Kate’s Glastonbury Festival appearance, her short shorts and Wellies combo quickly became a look copied by other fashionable “It Girls” such as Lily Donaldson, Pixie Geldof and Alexandra and Theodora Richards. As you see, with the right mindset, even something as “ordinary” as a pair of mucking around Wellington Boots or a well-constructed piece of clothing such as a Woolrich jacket can be turned into fashion; especially if you’re the first to take it for a fall stroll through Central Park. Leave the raking to the suburbanites. We just like to look fabulous.

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