The “Couture” Controversy

Doodled Juicy Couture CampaignThe other day one of my male friend’s said, Juicy Couture is ‘couture’ because it’s overpriced. While I agree with that statement regarding the sale of $500+ mediocre-quality dresses, I don’t concur with dubbing Juicy and other brands alike including Free City (or companies that sell shapeless sweatpants and hoodies for $200) to be couture, or even ready-to-wear (RTW) fashion, for that matter. Although this argument might seem dismal and irrelevant at first glance, it’s necessary to have a somewhat controversial discussion about the concept of ‘couture’ and ‘high-fashion,’ especially with Spring 2014 Couture Fashion Week currently underway in Paris.

Nowadays, ‘couture’ is one of the most misused words in the sartorial lexicon. That’s because, brands such as Juicy Couture, Romeo & Juliet Couture, Wow Couture and other ones alike dub their factory and mass produced creations “couture,” which is outright misleading and degrading to the industry. In other words, ‘couture coining brands’ and many other overpriced factory produced collections– marketing mediocre-quality apparel– target consumers by coercing them to believe they’re buying ‘couture-esque’ fashion, when they’re truly buying assembly-line apparel– that will be discarded by next year. Don’t get me wrong, brands like Juicy are sold at stores with RTW collections and high-fashion apparel such as Neiman Marcus, Barney’s and Saks. And, while brands like Juicy Couture and Romeo & Juliet Couture aren’t typically my taste, per se, they’re simply mediocre-quality and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Nonetheless, it’s imperative to note, there’s also a significant distinction between couture and RTW fashion. Most couturiers launch both RTW and couture lines. However many RTW designers don’t launch couture collections including highly sought after designers like Alexander Wang and Marc Jacobs. Still, the RTW and couture caliber of collections are typically released at bi-annual Fashion Week events. Also, RTW lines are still usually exclusive and created with high-quality details and materials. However RTW is occasionally mass-produced, yet not always, and it’s typically more suitable for everyday wear versus couture, which is intended for red carpet appearances or ornate events. With that said, I think this week in Paris should be dubbed “Haute Couture Fashion Week” rather than “Couture Fashion Week.” “Haute couture” is the French term for high fashion. In French, “couture” means dressmaking. And, “haute” is defined as high-end. Thus, the combination of these words imply, the craftsmanship of superior-quality garments.

Aside from that, the designers currently launching their respective collections are authentic couturiers  because they’re artisans. Moreover, their collections feature one-of-a-kind garments — crafted with extreme attention to detail, superior-quality materials and are handmade by the world’s top-tier seamstresses. And, thus, have extremely limited availability. Henceforth, authentic ‘couture’ creations are limited edition and highly-exclusive garments, which can be equated to collectors items and merit elite distinction, just like a Hermès Birkin Bag or an original Van Gogh painting. Thus, the term ‘couture’ isn’t conceptually applicable to affordable mass-produced clothing such as Juicy Couture. Furthermore, dubbing such brands as ‘couture’ is a gross understatement.

Of course, most people (who are even well-off like myself) can’t afford to purchase couture and it’s not intended to be affordable to professional women either. Undeniably, couture is a lucrative investment– intended for heiresses, celebrities and people with a similar net worth. By all means, if you desire to buy a collaborative collection from Target, H&M or enjoy dropping $200 on a pair of sweatpants or ripped jean shorts from Juicy Couture, please do. Just don’t think that you are buying ‘couture,’ high-end fashion or a piece of Jason Wu or Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy (this is applicable to me too). Nevertheless, if this has become your idea of couture or even high-end fashion, I recommend you reconsider.

Alas, Peter Pilotto for Target!

peter-pilotto-targetSo, the entire Peter Pilotto for Target lookbook was leaked today. I know, I say this every time… But this collaborative collection for Target is definitely the best, yet! That, I promise… However, every time Target announces its latest collection, the anticipation increasing up until the launch is literally palpable. Following Peter Pilotto’s announcement regarding his collaboration with Target back in Sep., we’ve all been at the edge of our seats waiting for any clues pertaining the collection’s aesthetic.

Though many people argue (including myself) that such collaborations can cheapen a designers brand. Pilotto and Christopher De Vos made minimal sacrifices with their line by preserving their brand’s signature colorful prints throughout the collection. Though the fabric still remains ambiguous, the silhouettes remain intact, there are countless combinations to render an outfit worthy of Tommy Ton’s lens, and the artful contrast remains throughout.

With everything priced lower than $80, this collaboration is definitely one of the most affordable to date.  Also, of you across the pond can get your hands on this collection too because select pieces will also be available on Net-a-porter.com. Unfortunately, for those of us in the U.S. and Canada — there will be a whole new host of shoppers to fight with in the online queue. With that said, let the games begin Feb. 9, I’ve curated an array featuring some of my favorite pieces below.

SP 2014: From potty humor to feminist gangs

Albeit a bit late, you’ll have to forgive me for being MIA, yet I guarantee my interpretation of the Spring 2014 ad campaigns will bring you a few minutes of entertainment. That’s because, I’m somewhat obliged to write about the best Spring 2014 designer ad campaigns. Of course, I should be critiquing the gowns on the red carpet from last night at the Golden Globes. But I’ve decided not to bother because most of them, yet not all, resemble prom dresses. Thus, back to the best of the Spring 2014 campaigns. From Alexander Wang’s potty humor rebellion in restroom stalls to Miuccia Prada’s feminist girl gangs sporting Latino political street art, I’m mostly coveting the ads that emulate pop culture and convey a story, which in turn serve as a tool to market their respective collections. 

Alexander Wang: Call me immature, yet I couldn’t help laughing hysterically after I saw Alexander Wang’s Spring 2014 campaign, which is situated in a high school girl’s bathroom. Of course, Wang has to have a ridiculous sense of humor–to shoot in a grungy restroom instead of an opulent setting. But, inspired by 1990′s grunge and logo mania, Wang’s latest campaign has an air of rebellion via combining the spontaneity and strong attitude of juvenile culture with a Parental Advisory sticker– the label plastering everything you wanted when you were under age.

Balmain: Rihanna is known for her edgy and innovative looks. So, it’s no surprise that she’s rocking Balmain’s Spring 2014 ad campaign with powerful attitude in bold prints and oversize gold adornments and accessories. This 90′s chic campaign features striking ensembles including a blue off the shoulder knit with gold chain detailing and a pink x-large houndstooth print suit. In addition, both of these motifs feature a plethora of consistent gold metal detail in the form of a chain belt, cuffs and gold toe capped white lace boots.

Chanel: Karl Lagerfeld is a genius at preserving Chanel’s timeless aesthetic with a contemporary facelift, even in the form of a hula hoop handbag and cowgirl inspired couture, as witnessed at the Paris-Dallas 2013/14 Métiers d’Art in December. For the Spring 2014 collection and campaign, Lagerfeld seemingly works his magic again by harmoniously combining the brand’s traditional tweed suiting with bright hues, enormous necklaces, plus pairing pumps with socks and bows.

DKNY: As a proud New Yorker, Donna Karen opts for an Empire State of Mind for DKNY’s Spring 2014 campaign. Thus, Times Square, (a.k.a the center of the universe) is definitely an idyllic cultural setting for capturing Dylan Rieder, rapper A$AP Rocky, models Cara Delevingne, Eliza Cummings and Jourdan Dunn. The iconic colorful and graphic prints undeniably makes this street wear inspired photo shoot an eye-catching spectacle.

Marc Jacobs: Aside from making hoards of headlines recently with selfies, twerking antics, provocative outfits and gossip, Miley Cyrus is bringing her bad ass attitude to the face of Marc Jacob’s Spring 2014 campaign. Sitting on a sandy beach, Miley looks lost and somber. But these eerie images reflect a side of Miley that we’re gradually warming up to, as she’s continuously shedding her youthful image to mature in her own way, which is her right of passage.

Mulberry: Mulberry recruited a cast of furry creatures to pose, alongside Cara Delevingne — in the brand’s Spring 2014 campaign. As a dog lover, I couldn’t ignore this campaign featuring a traditional British-style afternoon tea session– with a surreal component that conceptually looks like something out of a Dali painting. Though these guests might not have the greatest table manners, there’s something so naughty, literary and British about this ad that renders it to convey an unforgettable tale.

Prada: The clothing is the real story in Prada’s Spring 2014 campaign. Miuccia made a femininist statement in her Spring 2014 campaign by styling her models in a feminist girl gang– via adorning them in murals that represent—multi-visions of womanhood– inspired by Latino political street art in L.A., Mexico, and South America. While the colorful mix of dresses, coats and accessories give this gang a feminine twist, the stripe details on necklines and the crystal-embellished tube socks inject a menswear inspired lift.

Surviving The Snowpocalypse

ColdWeather

Coat: Moncler,  boots: Burberry, gloves: Zara, bag: Tory Burch

When it comes to trekking through catastrophic snow storms, I usually want to hide my boots under my desk if I’m forced to wear them. For more than 20 years, one of my biggest issues has always been finding a pair waterproof boots and a coat, that don’t respectively resemble slippers and the Pilsbury Dough Boy. Though I realize this issue is the epitome of first world problems, preserving a coordinated appearance and my refusal to obliterate my collection of coveted kicks — are part of my daily priorities, especially while braving the blizzards. Nonetheless, unlike many people, I usually drench my designer boots in waterproof spray to prevent damaging them in the snow. And, thus, when I came across Burberry’s ‘Holloway’ Rain Boot with a belt and studded detailing, I couldn’t resist their luxe punk aesthetic with a downtown-chic edge. As an alternative to the traditional puffer, I’m also coveting Moncler’s latest collection of skiwear. But, I particularly have my heart set on the brand’s Grenoble ‘Annapurna’  Jacket. This multi-texture alternative will amp-up any minimalist look with an exaggerated oversize neck, calf hair detailing, leather pockets and fur inserts on the sleeves, plus a detachable belt for accentuating a flattering silhouette. For the coat and boots, I recommend going with predominantly black if you’re a young professional on a tight budget like myself since it’s important to invest in hues that you’ll be able to wear more than one season, foregoing black guarantees your motif remains classic, chic and comfortable.