THE BITE: An amuse-bouche of fashion news

Giorgio Armani’s sketch for Lady Gaga’s Grammy dress, and the dress itself. Story by Anne Pringle.

Armani + Gaga
Italian fashion house Giorgio Armani gained iconic status in the Eighties with its perfectly tailored power suits that ended up defining corporate America (and Richard Gere in American Gigolo). With that in mind, the brand developed a somewhat conservative, traditional reputation… but not for long. A recent partnership with eccentric trendsetter Lady Gaga has put Armani in a new creative spotlight. Armani has created several outfits for the performer, including the cosmic hoop dress with orbiting rings she wore to the Grammy Awards, the bondage-style black leather costumes in her “Alejandro” video, and the black rubbery dress with spikes Gaga wore to the MTV Music Video Awards. Armani is also set to design the costumes for Lady Gaga’s upcoming concert in Italy this December. As Mr. Armani put it, “It wouldn’t be possible to give Gaga a look from the collection because she wears pieces of art. It’s theatrical.” (Wall Street Journal)

Intern inspiration
The 2008 CFDA winner Alexander Wang has a reputation for edgy designs. This is good news if you happen to be an Alexander Wang intern—Wang reportedly used one if his intern’s drawings as the print for some pieces in his Spring 2011 show. Apparently, he had his interns sit and doodle whatever they felt like for several minutes, and ended up using the scribbles in his show on pieces like a white jacket and free-flowing cropped pants. (Nylon)

Walker memorial
Catherine Walker, longtime friend and designer to Princess Diana, has sadly passed away after a long battle with breast cancer at the age of 65. Originally born in France, Walker moved to London as a young woman and began her career in fashion in 1976, a year after her husband passed away. She worked as a tailor and dressmaker for many high society women in London, and made over 1,000 dresses for Diana, including the black dress the Princess was laid to rest in. A memorial service has been scheduled for next month. (Catwalk Queen)

Clothing by Claudia
Claudia Schiffer is having a momentous year—after giving birth to her third child, Cosima, in May and turning 40 at the end of August, she has decided to get back to business. While sitting in the front row at the Salvatore Ferragamo show this past weekend, the supermodel spilled the beans that she will be launching her own fashion line at “an event” next month. (Fashionologie)

THE IT: Lady Gaga’s Monster’s Ball

Giovanna Castiglione on why she loves Gaga (“so-so” Toronto concert and all).

We can say she will never replace Madonna, we can say she’s a sexy sight for sore eyes or that she’s trying too hard. We can say a lot of things, but the truth is that Lady Gaga is something new.

She revealed something old to originate something new, as far as “new-ness” goes. But as far as the bed she made, she sleeps in it and believes in what she’s selling and understands what being famous allows. Most of her songs are a complete joke and her bi-sexual reveals are much more than for shock value. She knows exactly what she did to the pop world—she popped it. Until she came up on the radar, the pop culture scene was nothing but indie cry babies and has-been hoochies.

The performance of her song “Speechless mashed up with Elton John’s “Your Song at the Grammys was a screaming success. Between her hat creations with Philip Treacy, the BlueWater comic book titled FAME and potential fragrance products with Coty, she’s climbing faster than most young pop stars have at this stage in the game. Her lyrics aren’t even trying to be something—they’re just honest. “Love it when you call me legs, in the morning buy me eggs. Watch your heart when we’re together. Boys like you love me forever.” She touches on the “men are the new women” notion that’s been rolling around ladies nights cocktail carts for awhile now. As far as I’m concerned, she perfected my idea of a strong woman: Men don’t get her and women want to be her. It’s fabulous.

The “Fame Monster” and all her following “little monsters” (as she refers to her fans) convened at the Air Canada Center on July 11th and 12th for Lady’s Monster Ball. If she hadn’t spoken candidly that night, I would have hated the concert. I thought the show was a bit tacky.

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THE BITE: An amuse-bouche of fashion news

My, what big eyes you have… Story by Anne Pringle.

Eye sore
Lady Gaga has been credited with starting some strange trends, but few that can be considered dangerous. The huge anime-style eyes she sported in her “Bad Romance” video were likely computer generated, but have sparked an increase in demand for “circle lenses”: coloured contacts that make eyes appear larger because they cover not just the iris (as normal lenses do), but part of the whites of the eyes as well. These contacts are selling like hotcakes on the net, but beware—consumers risk significant eye injuries and potentially even blindness! (On the plus side, you’d never have to see “Alejandro” again….) (NY Times)

Skin care revolution
At-home skin care is constantly evolving—we already have anti-aging creams that mimic the effects of Botox and snake venom—and now we can add ones that produce similar results to laser treatments. The Laser A-Peel system, created by star dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt, combines active ingredients like glycolic and lactic acids with green and white teas, grape seed extract and antioxidants. According to Brandt, about half of all skin concerns can be addressed with laser treatments (or laser-mimicking ones). (WWD)

Couture call
Haute Couture Fashion Week began yesterday, around the same time that numbers came in showing positive sales in the couture department. Chanel, Dior and Gaultier all revealed notable increases in both sales and demand. The reason? An influx of orders from China, the Middle East and Russia. That, combined with the fact that couture has no season, and those who buy it do so (and can afford to) year-round. (Vogue UK)

THE MOMENT: Schiaparelli’s Skeleton Dress

Introducing The Moment, a new column about fashion iconography. Every week, writer Mishal Cazmi will highlight an iconic piece and explore its influence on style and pop culture.

In 1938, Elsa Schiaparelli unveiled an unusual dress. Not unusual by her standards, of course. By then, the designer was already known for her avant-garde approach to fashion and her friendships with Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, the A-list Dadaists and Surrealists of her time. The creation, an affront to many and loved by few, was named the Skeleton Dress.

It was a collaboration (the first of many) with surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, and appeared as part of Schiaparelli’s Circus Collection. Most likely inspired by the Surrealist preoccupation with the human body, the aptly named dress was made of black crepe, with trapunto quilting underneath to give it the anatomically appropriate effect of a spine, ribcage and leg bones.

Since then, the skeleton motif has been reincarnated in countless forms on the runway by designers such as Alexander McQueen, Christian Lacroix and the Mulleavy sisters at Rodarte, who featured it in their Spring 2009 collection and again in their diffusion line for Target. And then came Lady Gaga.

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THE BITE: An amuse-bouche of fashion news

Kate in her pre-Forbes days, by Peter Lindbergh. Story by Anne Pringle.

Cream of the crop
Forbes has just released its celebrity 100 list, their ranking of this year’s richest and most powerful celebs. Several models made the list, including Gisele at number 85, Heidi Klum at number 86, and Kate Moss at number 91. Lady Gaga blasted into position number 4, having not even made the list last year! Goes to show what a little eye-grabbing fashion can earn you these days. (Forbes)

Dreamy duds
Norma Kamali will be launching her first line of sleepwear, in collaboration with Wal-Mart, this October. Kamali is credited with having invented many popular designs over the years, including high-heeled sneakers and versatile poly-jersey dresses that don’t wrinkle and can be worn in several different styles. Kamali also created a collection entirely from silk parachutes, which is now on a part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitain Museum of Art in New York. Find her newest creations on walmart.com starting October 1. (WWD)

Track fashion
Sportswear label Nike is increasingly turning its focus onto fashion. Recently, the brand collaborated with six emerging designers to re-create and customize their N98 track jacket. The designers (including Tom Soar, Katie Eary, Felder Felder and Hannah Marshall) were each paired up with a British athlete as the muse for their design. For Katy Eary, working with all-muscular athletes evoked something serpentine in her, leading to her snake-print design of the jacket. (Vogue UK)