>> One of sure to be many fashion figures wearing Alexander McQueen to Monday's Costume Institute Gala? Daphne Guinness, who plans to dress herself for the event — in a feathery McQueen gown — in one of the windows of Barneys' Manhattan flagship, starting at 5 p.m. on May 2. The stunt — which was Guinness's idea — is not in any way a peep show, she says: “I am not doing a burlesque — no way. I’m going to be getting dressed behind something. I’m not Dita Von Teese, nor shall I be.” Instead, she likes the idea because “there’s been this discussion for longer than I’ve been alive that fashion is not art,” Guinness explains. “My feeling is that this is another piece of evidence that, yes, there is a commercial side to fashion that is needed, but there are these crossover moments that do become art. I hope it works, and I don’t faint.” [NY Times]
See the Dress Prabal Gurung Reworked for Elettra Wiedemann Rossellini to Wear to the 2011 Costume Institute Gala
>> The Costume Institute Gala is a week away and Alexander McQueen is reportedly finishing up dress fittings on a number of women today. Usually, there are no previews of the dresses to be worn until they hit the event's red carpet, but this year is an exception.
Prabal Gurung worked with Elettra Wiedemann Rossellini to rework one of her grandmother Ingrid Bergman's dresses, made by postwar Roman couturiere Fernanda Gattinoni. Originally, the gown was floorlength ruched ivory chiffon with bands of rhinestone and sequined embroidery running down each side, but Gurung reoriented the embroidery and shortened the dress in the back, leaving the original dresses chiffon back panels in place (left). Wiedemann explained that they aimed to “maintain the integrity of the dress but also make it mine and his. I felt it was important to pay homage to my grandmother but put my own stamp on it. It’s still the same dress, but it feels a little bit sexier, more contemporary, and younger.” A picture of the original can be seen here.
In other Met Ball news, meanwhile, Nicole Richie is in New York this week doing fittings on the gown she designed for Britt Maren to wear. “It’s pretty major,” Richie said.
>> Three days after the royal wedding comes another one of this year's big events — the Costume Institute Gala. In preparation, Vogue just launched an iPad app this morning dedicated to the spectacle, which features five years of behind-the-scenes footage, a preview of this year's Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty retrospective — with peeks into the museum’s storage vaults — and a personal tribute to McQueen by Anna Wintour.
As the May 2 gala gets closer, the app — which costs 99 cents — will be updated with a video of event designer Raul Avila disclosing this year's decor details, and then after the bash, it will update again with a video covering the party and its featured celebrity performances.
Hamish Bowles, who provides an introduction on the app, says that the details of the event only come together the night before, when the workers are let into the Metropolitan Museum of Art to work through the evening: “It’s like an amazingly industrious ant colony, all with their part to play. So it has to be so scrupulously planned and orchestrated, because they have this finite window of opportunity in which to make the magic happen. The work is really phenomenal. The app gives you some sense of that."
Bowles also admits that even though he's attended the event for several years, he still gets butterflies: “I mean, it’s intimidating. The whole process of thinking of what you’re going to wear when all eyes are going to be on everyone. As soon as I know the theme, I have ideas rumbling away [on what to wear], but sometimes, it can be surprisingly eleventh hour.” And when asked whether his friends pester him about tickets to the event, he replies: "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
>> Alexander Wang's New York flagship is just over a month old, but it sounds like there's been no shortage of shoppers passing through. Within a week of opening, he told us, some of the bags had already sold out. Late last week, the designer threw an exclusive shopping event for American Express cardholders — to encourage a few more shoppers to do some damage — and took a minute to chat with us about his upcoming trip to Coachella, whether or not we might see him Tweeting, and what he's currently excited about. Also, for those who haven't been able to make the store in person, Wang just posted a behind-the-scenes video documenting the making of the store, in which he describes his ideas and inspiration for the space.
You guys have had such good luck with awards! The Swiss Textile Award, the GQ Menswear Award a couple of months ago, and now three CFDA Award nominations . . .
I always say that I really owe it to my team and I share it with everyone that I work with, because they really are the ones that make it happen. Yeah, it’s my name on the door, but I could not have done it without my entire team.
And you just recently started a Twitter — can we expect to see you Tweeting at all?
Yes! They actually just taught me how to use it, in terms of signing up and actually posting things. Right now, it’s been a collective [effort]. We want to be very mindful in terms of what we want to put on there — making sure it’s only the best news and the things that people really, really want to pay attention to, to make it have good value. But yeah, definitely. I don’t know, I’m going on some big trips, and then maybe I'll . . . something will come up . . . whatever it may be. Maybe tonight!
Are you going on these big trips for inspiration hunting?
Yes, I’m going to Coachella . . . my yearly retreat. I’m going with friends, four of us. We’re renting a house for the first time, actually — I usually stay at a hotel. I stayed at the Ace [Hotel in Palm Springs] the first time, and that was so far [away from the festival], and then I stayed at another hotel last year. This year we were like, we’re going to rent a house so we can play music at night when we get back and not have people complaining about it, so, yeah.
Anyone you’re really looking forward to seeing at Coachella?
Yeah, Kanye’s headlining, so I’m really excited, and Lauryn Hill’s going to be there. I don’t know, I feel like I always . . . I don’t really care who’s performing, I’m always just like: for the experience, I want to go, and then when I get there I plan out my day . . . you know, see who’s going on. But just those two [alone], it's worth going for.
What has sold well in the showroom and during buyer's appointments from your Fall 2011 collection?
Oh good, we just did our merchandising meeting this week! Our handbags have really taken off as a part of our business, our footwear is actually growing tremendously as well. I’m actually learning a lot from the store [and] what’s on the floor right now: our Diego and our Rocco from our Dumbo group, which is all of our handbags with the studs on the bottom, are still our best-sellers, which has been awesome. The first week [after the store's opening], we did this really special display in the back, and within the first week they all sold out, so it’s great that there’s still life [for a design] beyond one season.
Of course, I’m a big fan of our new Prisma group, which is all the [handbags] with the metal corners. My favorite bag is the Jade clutch, just this toiletry clutch that we put metal corners on. I think for Fall, what was great is that we did a lot of things with fur, and with the higher price point, it was kind of like . . . we wanted to test the market and see how the buyers would respond. They have really . . . they’ve been great. Our bestseller from the entire ready-to-wear collection was the grey vest with the yellow zip-out windbreaker pockets and the fur collar. It was great, to see an item like that . . . I feel like it had a really strong impact in the show, so it really kind of transcended into the market week.
Have you been in the store a lot while people are shopping?
Yeah, I’ve been in here at least once a week. At least.
Do you like to interact with the customers?
Well, one day, we came in and the phone rang, so I just picked up the phone and was like, "Alexander Wang," and I helped the lady on the phone — she was looking for one of our Rocco bags. So that was kind of fun. Other than that, a couple of times I’ll be in and people will be like, "Oh, hey!" and I’ll be like, "Do you have any questions?" You know? It’s been great to have that really direct communication with the customer and really, this is the first time we’ve been one-on-one [with] what works, what doesn’t work . . . not even in the product itself, just the entire experience of shopping with us.
Are you dressing anyone for the Costume Institute Gala?
We are dressing someone, but it’s not confirmed yet who. Actually, a lot of my friends have been like, "Oh, you know, I’m taking blah blah blah, who are you going with?" And I’m like, "I don’t know yet!" It’s always a little last minute for us, and it’s great, because we really want to make it special. It’s always someone we feel like we have a special relationship with or someone who really means something to us, so . . . but no, we haven’t confirmed yet.
Is there anything else you’re really excited about right now?
Our menswear. I met with our store manager last week, and I was like, "What has been the one thing that everyone has been asking for or talking about?" And they said the men’s stuff. I was actually really surprised, because we only started men’s T about three seasons ago, and so I felt like we haven’t really . . . we’ve started to build a following, but it hasn’t been paying off as much. Women’s line has been around much longer. But it’s great that we’re going to have that audience, and it’s been perfect timing since we [just] launched our men’s ready-to-wear [with] a capsule collection for Fall , and it will be fully launched for Spring . To have that audience already, we’re really honored and really excited to showcase it.
>> Last May, when Balenciaga severed its 12-year relationship with public relations firm PR Consulting, rumors circulated that it was the result of a Balenciaga designer leaving to work for one of the firm's other clients and that some of the client's designs were too similar to Balenciaga. Now, WSJ. reports that insiders at PPR say Nicolas Ghesquiere felt slighted by the attention Pierre Rougier was giving to Versace, his newest client, at the Costume Institute gala last year. It's worth noting the decision to drop PR Consulting was made within two weeks of the gala at the beginning of May.
At the time of the severance, Rougier said: “It’s been a wonderful 12-year adventure with Balenciaga and I really wish Nicolas and Balenciaga all the best and lots of luck going forward. It’s been really great and I really don’t want it to seem any other way.” And now, he tells WSJ. simply, "I love Nicolas."
Post-Balenciaga, Rougier seems to be doing fine. Alongside Versace, he counts among his clients Yves Saint Laurent, Jil Sander, Dries Van Noten, and Proenza Schouler. He is "notoriously picky about whom he takes on," according to the WSJ., and "can lift a brand to another level . . . his job is to keep the Americans, whose critical opinions drive international buying trends, in line."
Vera Wang president Mario Grauso avers this fact — one of the first things he did when joining Wang a year and a half ago was hire Rougier: "Vera had gone dark — hadn't done enough media, wasn't dressing celebrities. Pierre helped me change that. We [at Vera Wang] can veer a little too mainstream, a little too bridal-y. I wanted to be edgier and Pierre knew how to do that." Grauso also credits Rougier with bringing top European press to Wang's shows, admitting it's "something we couldn't do without him."
But cultivating brands isn't all Rougier aspires to — apparently he wants to get more involved with advising the venture capital and investment side of fashion, WSJ. reports: "Too many backers choose the wrong horse in the race, he says, and then are flummoxed when throwing money at the problem doesn't solve it."
>> Next year's Costume Institute Gala — on May 2, 2011 — has its theme: "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty." Anna Wintour, Stella McCartney, and Colin Firth are set to co-chair the event, with Francois-Henri Pinault and Salma Hayek as honorary chairs.
The accompanying exhibit will run at the museum May 4-July 31, 2011, and will cover McQueen's work from his Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection in 1992 to his final runway presentation, which took place weeks after his death in February 2010. A hundred pieces from his 19-year career will be on view, drawn from the McQueen London archives, the Givenchy archive in Paris, and private collections, including Isabella Blow's wardrobe, which Daphne Guinness owns in its entirety.
Curator Andrew Bolton, who is spearheading the project, stressed that he doesn't want the exhibit to feel like a retrospective, so the focus is thematic rather than chronological, reflecting McQueen's fascination with the 19th-century Romantic movement. Among the themed galleries planned: “The Savage Mind,” “Romantic Gothic,” “Romantic Nationalism,” “Romantic Exoticism,” and “Romantic Primitivism.” There will also be a “Cabinet of Curiosities” gallery featuring McQueen's collaborations with Philip Treacy and Shaun Leane, and a separate screening room to display videos of McQueen's theatrical runway presentations.
Sam Gainsbury and Joseph Bennett, who helped produce those dramatic shows, are serving as creative consultants to the exhibit, and the Alexander McQueen company is underwriting the whole thing with support from American Express and Conde Nast. “We felt it would be a great opportunity to show Lee’s work and his incredible contribution to the world of fashion and art,” Jonathan Akeroyd, president and CEO of Alexander McQueen, told WWD. “It felt like the right thing to do. Lee loved the museum. It will give us a great opportunity to show Lee’s work and the Alexander McQueen brand to a much broader community. It’s the greatest tribute and important for his legacy, but it’s also an exciting new chapter in the history of the brand.”
The eight dresses designed by past CFDA/Vogue Fashion Funders for the Gap and worn to the Costume Institute gala on Monday are now on display in a pop-up shop next to Gap's Fifth Avenue flagship. The dresses—created by Alexander Wang, Rodarte, Thakoon, and Sophie Theallet—will be on view through the end of May and available for purchase (to the highest bidder) via an online auction hosted by Gap. Proceeds will be donated to the Met's Costume Institute, adding to the $9 million raised for Monday's event.
>> Rick Owens has been in New York two times in the last seven years, by his estimation, once for his store opening in 2008 and again now for a week. He prefers to stay in a four-hour travel radius of his Paris home, and didn't travel for recent store openings in Seoul or Tokyo.
Although Owens has been staying at the Bowery Hotel since Sunday, he didn't attend the Costume Institute Gala, despite being invited, for "reasons he’d rather not discuss," WWD reports. He did hit up Mick Jagger and L'Wren Scott's after party at The Carlyle, however.
He's "surprised" at how much he's been recognized »
Notes from the 2010 Costume Institute Gala: Jessica Stam's Torn Gown, No Armani Dresses Worn, Miuccia's Front Row Gaga Seat
>> There were no headbuttings this year at the Costume Institute Gala, but there were a few other surprises — particularly for Jessica Stam, who Tweeted last night of her slinky Rachel Roy gown: "I can't believe I put my dress on at 6pm and it was ripped all down the back. Last minute stitching before I hit the red carpet at the Met."
And there was Katy Perry, who nixed the de rigeur designer gowns in favor of a LED-flashing dress from a shop in France called CuteCircuit, earning her today's WWD cover. "I respect and appreciate Anna Wintour, but I'm doing this for me," she told StyleList. "That's what people should do, especially when they're representing true women in American fashion. [If] Anna comes over and says 'Shut that f-ing thing off,' I'll do it."
It was moms' night out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual Costume Institute Gala last night. Celebrity ladies went all out and traded dirty nappies for a night of glitz and glamour as they made their way down the red carpet. Take this quiz and see if you can identify the dolled up mamas.