Tentative Outline


i. the history of luxury
ii. the history of collection, curiosity cabinets, museums
iii. the history of style and taste
(curated through ... protagonist? theme? decade? style?)

i. religion and luxury
a. faith, transcendence, ecstacty, myth, sacrifice, ritual, community, identity
ii. deconstruction of imagery
a. icons/spaces
b. psychologies/subtext
c. mythologies
d. packaging
e. association and disassociation

i. the runway
a. Carrousel de Louvre, Grand Palais, etc. (plans, sections, elev...)
ii. the store
a. window display, lighting
b. dimensions, ratios
iii. the street
a. blogs, paparazzi



The Taking of Power by Louis XIV

The Taking of Power by Louis XIV

A film by Roberto Rossellini

A film review

Roberto Rossellini is well known for propelling the neorealist genre of film. He strongly believed that his films could be a form of research. And his method was to “understand by re-living”. It was made for French television, which partly explains why it lacks the punch that cinema usually offers. I was wondering during my first viewing why it was so tedious and detailed, but at the same time, I thought that I could learn a lot from the efforts this film in showing the particulars of each ritual. And it was exactly that Rossellini believed in the capacity for television to have educational purposes that drew him to this medium. In this way, he often directed his films for television with the most realistic of minutiae and at true-to-life timing of activities that give us the impression of sincere and tangible events: the physician smelling a chamber pot for diagnosis, a maid forgetting to make her futon and rushing in the room before a noble enters, the gossip amongst the court subjects during the royal hunt. The dialogue was often lifted from actual historical writings, in this case: Madame de Sévigné, Saint-Simon, and Voltaire. He treats the primping and grovelling masquerade between Louis XIV’s subjects and himself with the same patience as if it were the main essence of the movie. He would take those so-called banal routes in the search for the finer truths.

The film starts with one of the only scenes that occur outside of the royal court, in the countryside, where peasants speak of the execution of the king of England. This sets up the bookends for what we know will happen not long after Louis XIV’s death, the French Revolution. Beginning in 1661, the death of Cardinal Mazarin gives the chance to the 22-year old Louis to truly govern as King, making all the decisions solely by himself. From there, he quickly and coarsely centralized his power and brought all the nobility to the court of Versailles.

Tag Gallagher’s film essay in the Special Features of the Criterion Collection DVD illuminates certain techniques Rossellini employed that are very subtle and seem natural within the film that are actually very carefully planned. Rossellini maintained that motion was emotion. And that physically moving deeper into a scene or across the frame conveyed another layer of feeling. It becomes a more inconspicuous way to create emotion, unlike an obvious soundtrack, of which this film has none. As an untrained viewer, without the knowledge of Rossellini’s lofty intentions, the emotion escapes most audience members. The movie will most likely feel dispassionate and tedious, and on the verge of stagnancy due to its slow pace. The paring down of a formidable figure into a fearful and slightly insolent youth makes the film worth talking about. Some people strongly disagree with the casting of Jean-Marie Patte, who played the role of Louis XIV, saying that his skill was so limited that it translated on film as emotionless and shallow. But on the contrary, Rossellini was said to have hand-picked him in particular due to his shyness in front of the camera. Rossellini actually preferred to work with untrained actors. Patte would often read some of his lines written on boards just outside of the camera’s field of view. And in this way, he conveyed the same sense of the agitated king searching for his words.

Throughout the entire film, the ritual of costume is treated with much significance. Firstly, there are elaborate costumes on everyone – plumed hats, tall shiny boots, layers and layers of cloth. So on all characters, peripheral or central, they are dressed to the nines. Then there is the emphasis of the dressing of the King, as the action itself. In the morning, it was an honour to watch the king rise, and the dressing of him was part of a ritual, along with the washing of his hands and face, and the confirmation that he performed his conjugal duties to the Queen. And near the end of the film, before reading from his philosophy books, he takes his time to undress, piece by piece, from his council meeting clothes, into his more comfortable study attire and then begins to read. And his second official order as King is for all the court to dress in black for mourning. Previously, it was the right permitted to royal blood only. He also states a conference with the master tailor is of the utmost importance. This is because shortly after the mourning, he wants to designate a completely new style of dress. One that is so over-the-top and weighty in cost that it will end up being the way Louis XIV domesticates the whole aristocracy. He instructs that the ensemble must cost close to one year’s salary and nonchalantly motions for more lace. Under all the expenses of keeping up with the trends, the exorbitant fees take their toll on the nobility, morphing them into preposterous walking dolls. Thus, Louis XIV used clothing as a means to control a totalitarian state. Rossellini had said that Louis XIV had an empirical understanding that vanity was a very real and solid thing that existed amongst everyone. And he used this knowledge to its maximum power.

Alongside of using clothing as a manifestation of his dictatorship, architecture also plays a large role. Château de Versailles was originally planned to house 12,000. In the film, Louis XIV orders the architect to increase it up to 15,000 people. And all of Versailles extravagant fountains and gardens are implemented to impress and, just as importantly, distract.

The entire film culminates to this: Louis is at the peak of his disproportionate indulgence, with a solitary 17-course meal while the whole court watches him nibble indifferently on a plethora of exotic dishes. The camera slowly dollies backwards and outwards from the table, through the room, past all the courtiers and ladies. In an interview with Rossellini’s son, who directed that scene in Rossellini’s brief absence, he reveals that he used a crane in order to capture the shot. It is quite the disclosure as Rossellini was very against cranes, calling them “vulgar and stupid.” His disdain for flashy, quick cuts and artificial movement stay true to his thesis. It is in his subtleties and his idea of costume and its prominence in the effects of ruling a nation that administers this film’s potency.


It's in the bag

Prada is one of the most highly counterfeited designer brands to date. Their reputation is built as an intellectual and opulent status symbol. Authenticity is a big issue. Here is a (not so fool-proof, developed-by-own-experience) way to figure out whether the bag you just bought is real or fake:

The September Issue

Not that I want to make this into an advertisement for a movie that will more-than-likely be nothing beyond mediocre, but I have a strange affinity for the slogan that comes with the movie posters:

"Fashion is a religion. This is the bible."

I've spoken of the semantic and psychological connections between luxury items and religious aspiration. But Anna Wintour is no Jesus figure. It's no wonder she was the inspiration for "The Devil Wears Prada". [September Issue trailer]


Couture Number-Crunching

Numbers don't lie. And these numbers are all-round impressive, giving a more mathematical glimpse of what goes on behind one of these haute couture collections:

Click on thumbnail for larger version.

Gaultier, Chanel, Lacroix, Margiela


Collecting for a Curiosity Cabinet

Before curation can even happen, there is the initial step of collection. But collecting can be broken down into many smaller steps (when speaking of the hobby or profession): perusing, hunting, spotting, attaining, arranging, cataloguing, displaying, storing, preserving, and sometimes selling and trading. And everyone has their own personal collection style, depending on their selection skills and tastes. But there are several customary boundaries known in the collecting world regarding the timeline of collectibles. When is an item considered vintage or antique? Does the lifespan differ depending on the article? How so? What is the resale price once it is no longer at retail price? Why? Below is my diagram to represent these issues:

There are also price guides out there (book form and online) with many typical prices outlined for many specialty items. The first price guide ever recorded is by Stanley Gibbons in November 1865. But of course, in the end, its value is only about how much one buyer is willing to pay for it.

And in the strange and slightly rigid world of collecting, there is also the “box debate” – whether a collector wants the box or not, and if so, does it have to be in pristine condition? A recent example is from the National Barbie Doll Collector’s Convention. A toy is ultimately made to be played with, so withholding the toy from ever even being opened stops it short from its true destiny. But then again, not all collectors are pro-box. Some purchase items without the plan of reselling them and believe that the box obscures the true details on the doll itself. Obviously, there are merits to both parties’ arguments. The relic with remnants of a past life versus the pristine artefact in perfect condition reminds me of the Woody versus Buzz Lightyear dilemma of Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story.” Modern media tends to favour the Buzz Lightyears. With the intricate connections between possessions and personality, what we lean towards tells us a lot about our nature.

But before all these finicky distinctions due to capitalism and mass production, there was a long history to collecting. From the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty resulting in the Library of Alexandria to the Medici Family becoming the first Renaissance private patrons to great works of art, the act of collecting at large meant an accumulation of cultural wealth at one juncture. Which leads us to the “curiosity cabinet”. Some cultures call it the “wunderkammer”, but whatever its name, it is basically the precursor to the museum. Its purpose was to be an encyclopaedic collection of things that could not be categorically bound, sometimes mixing fact with fiction. Another way to look at it is as a microcosm or mini-theatre of the world. Sometimes they are made to be places for retreat and contemplation. Sometimes they are made for demonstrations of symbolic power. Whatever its initial purpose, it requires connoisseurship and was the starting point for advancements in cultural enlightenment. In 1587, Gabriel Kaltemarckt recommended to Christian I of Saxony that for a true curiosity cabinet, one must have:

1. sculptures and paintings
2. curious items from home and/or abroad
3. antlers, horms, feathers, etc. from strange animals

Now, these criteria may no longer stand for a successful museum exhibit (though it is actually still mostly true), the main point to take from this is in the item’s juxtapositions. The associations and oppositions of such disparate objects in close proximity to each other encourage analogies and comparisons between them. This helps us view the world as dynamic, rather than static. In a mawkish way, this blog (and any blog for that matter) attempts to do the same thing.


Frocks and Blocks

[Thurman, Judith. “Frocks & Blocks”. The New Yorker, Dec. 4, 2006]

An Article Review

The “Skin+Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture” Exhibit in MOCA, put on several years ago tried to relate the field of architecture with that of fashion. By juxtaposing similar building projects with their couture counterparts, similarities begin to emerge. However, the extent of how much they relate is the crux of the debate. Thurman asserts that the exhibit too readily complies with this establishment of relations, saying that the affinities are only through semantics. She then goes on to descriptively list some pairings of edifice-ensemble displays:

Cables: Yeohlee Teng’s Suspension Dress with Bernard Tschumi’s Parc de la Villette
Pleats: Alber Elbaz’s pleated day dress with Winka Dubbeldam’s Greenwich Street Project
Lace: Tess Giberson’s abstract crochet with Toyo Ito’s Mikimoto Tower
Composites: Martin Mangiela’s disjointed patchwork with Gehry’s anarchic jigsaw
Angles: Viktor & Rolf’s cantilevered shirt collars with Zaha Hadid’s Vitra Firestation

All of these seem true enough at their surface, but the two disciplines are none the less still really non-proportional to each other. And there is a good point taken when Thurman writes that most fashion retrospectives within major art institutions are mostly just about honouring a style, period, or couturier, whereas this is trying to do something a bit more. The curator of Architecture and Design of MOCA, Brooke Hodge, notes that this exhibit couldn’t have even happened ten years ago. This was only possible because the gap between the two fields has slowly tapered in recent times, and architects have finally started to relax the modernist teachings of form follows function. As Hodge says: “the younger generation tends to know more about fashion than designers know about architecture. They’ve grown up with its influence, and the question of legitimacy doesn’t arise.” Basically, we architects have gotten off our high horse and started to realize we can all benefit from each other. Bikinis to burkas, screens to walls, they all just mediate public and private zones to varying degrees of enticement to austerity.

But after reading the article, I’ve come to realize this:

All the hype around connecting the dots between both disciplines into this hybrid mesh of some new product is an irrelevant effort. No matter how stimulating the dialogue between the two discipline – issues of body as site, shelter and identity – they will never parallel each other. They can approach some sort of complementary state within each other’s spheres of influence, but to say that one is a metaphor for the other just cannot be. For one thing, architecture is at its most basic level a search for permanence. It has a gravitas that the fashion world would never even fathom of nearing. It is the ephemerality of the flesh and its qualities that makes fashion visceral, whereas architecture is about the creation of the void to occupy. Tectonic strategies are interesting to co-relate between the two fields and as long as society has clothed themselves and lived under roofs, no one has contested that both fields are able to convey status and encode identity. But that can be said about any commodity-based industry, with some examples as the automobile one drives or the class they fly in. The interesting thing is, as it has become “de rigueur” for luxury fashion houses to commission starchitects to design their flagship epicentres, so is the notion that aesthetic coherence has been transmitted from one artist to another. Bernard Arnault of LVMH sought out Frank Gehry for their contemporary art centre, while Francois Pinault of P.P.R., owner of the Gucci Group, hired Tadao Ando for their building. But this pairing off of architect and designer is not an entirely new phenomenon. The past has had many architects paired with kings and rulers, of whom dictated the fashions of the day. But again, design aesthetic pairing of the like-minded does not give rise of equals. Take a look at this formula of architecture to fashion I’ve developed, as a modification with what Thurman asserted in the article:

It explains that the cultural prestige of architecture is approximately inversely proportional to the name recognition of its main exemplar as compared with fashion’s multiplied by the money spent on advertising and marketing, all over the variable of time. This is to say it applies to the case of the general public. So in another sense, one could say that architecture and fashion are two very different languages that developed from the same root. And they are both used for communication and expression of self, but often times when they try to communicate with each other, things are lost in translation.


On Curation

When speaking of luxury, how do we separate what is legitmately opulent from the ordinary? The issue of curation arises. With any museum, the curator is in esence a content specialist. The responsibilities are to seek and catalogue relevant objects in line with the raison d’etre of the institution. In smaller, more amateur operations, this could be a free-for-all documentation of goods. There is no structured scrutiny of what is kept and what is tossed. An amalgam of unrelated anythings, the assemblage still paints a picture of the intended issues, for better or for worse. The difference between this and a professional curator is that the latter will subscribe to a master narrative. The boundaries are clearly marked, and there is a slightly unforgiving ostracization for that which does not comply.

So when does fashion become truly luxurious? When does it completely extend past the limits of merely covering up oneself and become an utterly sumptuous indulgence that it often in need of an argument for its own existence? When can be it curated to the realm of haute couture. Haute couture has been dated back to the days of Louis XIV (17th century), who promoted fashions that were only deemed worthy if it cost the equivalent of one’s annual salary. Then in the 18th century, it continued with couturier Rose Bertin as Minister For Fashion, as well as with Leroy after Napoleon became Emperor in 1804. However, the one main difference is that in those days, all the power of creativity still laid with the royal personages that commissioned the dress. Charles Worth, regarded as the father of modern Haute Couture, is the first person to put his name on the label of the clothes he made. And in 1858, he began to make collections of clothes in Paris from his own ideas, and then asked his clients for their opinion. And then showing his finished garments on live models completed the entire power shift. In detail, he would have a portfolio of designs through these showings, where the client could still specify colour and fabric, and then the duplicate garment would be tailor-made in Worth’s workshop. This was an innovative meld of customized tailoring with a slightly more standardized method emerging at this time of the Industrial Revolution. It was so well received that from then on, designers began to take charge of the direction couture. And in 1868, Worth founded the first Chambre Syndicale. Throughout its progression it has evolved into what is known today as The Fédération française de la couture, du prêt-à-porter des couturiers et des créateurs de mode (officially established in 1973). Its location has been 100 rue du faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris 8e.since 1935.

With the Fédération, there are three parts:
- the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture (created in 1868),
- the Chambre syndicale du prêt-à-porter des couturiers et des créateurs de mode (created in 1973)
- The Chambre syndicale de la mode masculine (created in 1973)

And there are strict rules in order to be legally called a House of Couture. Although colloquial English has abused the term often enough for it to be erroneously related to an item without a second glance, it is actually a very difficult right to earn. In order for an item to be legally haute couture, the design house must:
- show a collection to the Parisian press, private buyers, and manufacturers twice a year (January for Spring/Summer, July for Fall/Winter; intentionally fast-forwarded)
- produce 35 new and original designs of both day and evening wear for each of these collections
- employ a minimum of at least 15 full-time technical staff in at least one atelier or workshop located in Paris
- and most importantly, design custom made-to-order outfits that involve one or more fittings
With all these requirements met, a fashion house can officially call itself a House of Couture. Interestingly, its members are privileged to free advertising on state run French television channels.

In and around the time of Worth, there were certain designers who followed suit, some of which have even become household names until today: Callot Soeurs, Patou, Poiret, Vionnet, Fortuny, Lanvin, Chanel, Mainbocher, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, and Dior to name a few. And then later, Yves Saint Laurent established his own house after working under Dior, Karl Lagerfeld went on to create his own brand after working under Balmain and Jean Patou, André Courrèges left Balenciaga, as did Emanuel Ungaro to create their own lines. All this apprenticeship turned master relations are being explored in the “Designer Family Tree”. There are also completely new houses started in the 20th century that have garnered a lot of success. Some of these include Jean-Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, and Christian Lacroix. However, it is very timely to note that last Tuesday (07 July 2009) may have been Lacroix’s last haute couture collection for the house. It has much to do with the economic recession, but it is also attributed to how he gave himself over to the boundlessness of extravagance and luxury. People often describe his designs as a pursuit beyond real-world restraints, of a beauty without a hint of sacrifice. And if his house was to really fall, it wouldn’t be against the ongoing general trend. In 1946, there were 106 couture houses. In 1952, that declined down to 60, 2000 had 18, 2002 had 12, 2004 had a mere 9, and this year, 2009, there are 11.

The current Official members are:

Adeline André
Anne Valérie Hash
Christian Dior
Christian Lacroix
Dominique Sirop
Franck Sorbier
Jean Paul Gaultier
Maurizio Galante
Stéphane Rolland

However, there are also Correspondent members (meaning foreign) that include:

Elie Saab
Giorgio Armani
Maison Martin Margiela

Former members include:

Donatella Versace, Elsa Schiaparelli, Emilio Pucci, Chado Ralph Rucci, Erica Spitulski, Erik Tenorio, Fred Sethal, Guy Laroche, Hanae Mori, Jean Patou, Jean-Louis Scherrer, Lanvin, Loris Azzaro, Louis Feraud, Mainbocher, Marcel Rochas, Nina Ricci, Paco Rabanne, Pierre Balmain, Pierre Cardin, Ralph Rucci, Torrente, Yves Saint Laurent, Gai Mattiolo, and Anna May.

It is a hefty list of names with many talents and skills but also a lot of drama and business involved. But let us take a moment to focus on what actually goes on behind the doors of those that finally considered as houses of haute couture. This video is from Chanel, inside its atelier and condenses the process of the making of one of their dresses this season. Note the level of skill, attention to originality and detail, and quality of material.

(However, Roberto Cavalli, though not an official member, still has an atelier in Paris, calling it “made-to-measure” and still charging a minimum of 30,000 euros per dress)

On the Fédération française de la couture website, they list the responsibilities they owe to its members:
1. Reinforce Paris as the world capital of creative couture
2. Update database of accredited press list
3. Receive journalists and buyers at the International Press Centre at the Carrousel du Louvre (since 1994)
4. To facilitate the development of emerging brands (“En Avant-Première”)
5. Establish synergies between buyers, subcontractors, etc of fashion industry
6. Defend Intellectual Property Rights (fight against forgery)
7. Develop training in conjunction with l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs
8. Solve collective problems of Federation members

And speaking of the Carrousel du Louvre, it has a special place in the heart of the fashion world. Since 1982, the Federation has utilized very notable locations for the site of each of its shows. The Cour Carrée and Cour Napoléon in the Louvre, then the Jardin des Tuileries and later the restored Cour Carrée. Then in 1994, the rooms of the Carrousel du Louvre were built to be the central point from which all other locations of shows during Paris fashion week were determined (based on transportation time and scheduling). There is a link to the floor plans of the Carrousel, particularly the two rooms they use most: Salle Lenotre and Salle Soufflot. I am in the process of trying to find more discernable plans and even sections for these rooms. And as of July of last year, Karl Lagerfeld presented his Chanel haute couture show at the fully restored Grand Palais. The runway set up and dimensions play a significant role in the presentation in this highly playful yet ridiculously serious world of couture.

The Fédération site also has very complete links to all the fashion houses it supports, official and guest members, and is a great collection for the general public to peruse. A more edited take on the Paris fashion week that just occurred would be through noted blogs, such as Jak & Jil. Tommy Ton’s perspective of the collections is a privileged yet still streetsmart take, with special attentions paid to what adorns the perfectly pedicured feet. It is a revised collection of a collection – which brings us back to the issue of curation


Spaces of Expenditure

Click on image to see larger version

"Spaces of Expenditure: An Evolutionary Process" is my re-worked version of a timeline of retail typologies from Rem Koolhaas's Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping. Focussing on the main typologies of:
-coffee houses
-auction houses
-designer boutiques
-designer epicentres
-big box & hypermarkets
-department stores
each major innovation is noted.


Material Culture and Mass Consumption

"Material Culture & Mass Consumption"
by Daniel Miller

A Literature Review

Daniel Miller’s “Material Culture and Mass Consumption” treads the wide territory of archaeology, anthropology and social theory all at once. In its essence, Miller posits several things (and tries to back it up with a plethora of works of previous theorists):

1. Cultures objectify themselves and understand what they are from the objects they make
2. Cultures and its objects are mutually established
3. Consumption is the “work” of creative recontextualization of the object post-purchase, for the construction of collective and personal identities (potentially liberating, though still constrained by unequal access)

His book is broken up into three parts:

Firstly, he reviews the concept of objectification from Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit”. Miller defines it as a “series of processes consisting of externalization (self-alienation) and sublation (reabsorption) through which the subject of such a process is created and developed.” (p. 12). So in this sense, he starts to build the notion that artefacts operate in society with social and symbolic meaning. And he recognizes that it’s not just the materiality and properties of the object but also the subjects who interact with these objects through consumption that allow for its reappropriation. Then, Miller uses Simmel as a basis to assert that the notion of possession as an activity means that material objects provide potential in defining the cultured self. Thus, culture (and therefore, self-expression) is a process of becoming in a material world. But unlike Simmel, Miller uses this to construct more “positive possibilities of social development” (p. 13). In this way, even in the modern condition of a mass produced world, this does not diminish the potential. If anything, a capitalist society gives newfound freedom from kinship obligations of traditional societies. And finally, in the first part of his book, he builds on the work of Nancy Munn, on aboriginal iconography. Munn speculates that an individual’s perception of the world is externalized in the landscape. So this inevitable and fundamental link between society and things implies that there are no social relationships that exist prior to the subject to object relationship.

In the second part of Miller’s writing, he emphasizes the importance of objects in psychosocial development. Since “the physicality of the artefact lends itself to the work of praxis – that is, cultural construction through action rather than just conceptualization” (p. 129), objects are ideal for manifesting ideas into executions. These objects may refer to social groups, possess a biography, signify luxury, and any other wide ranges of fine discriminations at almost immediate perception. That is why Miller is able to deflate the theory that language has superiority over other forms of expression. Instead, there is a rather useful co-relationship between the object and the linguistic code. He even creates a rough guide for analyzing style: (1) first an object is organized into type-tokens, (2) and compared in a given field where it contrasts with others, and finally (3) how, according to an underlying logic, it can cross coherent categories. In many ways, this rough guide is how the modern advertising world works in order to get their product recognized, relevant, and coveted. But Miller’s examples from Levi-Strauss amongst American Indians of the north-west coast fixes the argument to a more elemental level.

The last part of Miller’s book is a general theory on consumption based on the processes of objectification spoken of before. Drawing from the works of Veblen, Baudrillard and Bourdieu, (which I have yet to research further), Miller postulates that objectification permits pluralistic, small scale communities to positively appropriate material symbols even though they are distributed by impersonal institutions by modern capitalists. This means that consumption is actually viewed as a construction of culture. As the physicality of the object was previously discussed, it has the power to be an ideology. There is a certain level of autonomy in infusing meaning in these material goods. So instead of the traditional view of consumers as innocent victims of advertising and marketing, they are actually a part of an active process of creating a personal and political identity. Participatory and rather democratic, material culture can be recognized as social self-creation. What is most interesting and useful about this is that it feeds right into the core of my thesis, in that the luxury objects of today define society’s collective notions of value and beauty. In these contemporary social desires, we seek the paths towards the creation of our own identities.

In a way, Miller’s pillaging of ideas for all these various sources he happens to find relevant to his own preoccupations is exactly the appropriate way to approach it. He speaks of consumption as a recontextualization after the purchase. So what could be more fitting? However, there were many works cited of the past, but perhaps not enough on contemporary examples. Granted, this was written in 1987, an update with new theories is a must on the list of further areas to investigate. The book is occasionally repetitive, dense and not a very smooth read, which is very unfortunate for the proliferation of this work and its ideas. This is because the people who tend to gravitate towards material culture do not desire to theorize it too much, whereas those who are into social theory usually do not realize the issues raised in this work are significant. This is a tough demographic to sell towards, to legitimize the academic study of consumer culture. However, since it is far more common and easy to criticize consumption rather than exalt it, the opposing angle this takes is a commendable attempt.


if you blog it, they will come

Not long ago, I posted about an inherent dichotomy of the fashion world where the source of its inspiration can either trickle up or filter down. Here the two worlds meet as the windows of Holt Renfrew synthesize that very junction.

The official press release:

TORONTO, June 23 /CNW/ - This Friday evening, Holt Renfrew, Canada's
leading specialty retailer, will pay tribute to the newest international style
influencers - fashion bloggers - with a national window installation
celebrating their diversity and spirit.
Six bloggers were invited by Holt Renfrew Creative Director John Gerhardt
to be part of the celebration. The bloggers are a diverse mix of fashion
leaders from around the globe and include
Scott Schuman(thesartorialist.blogspot.com);
Jane Aldridge (seaofshoes.typepad.com);
Anita Clarke (iwantigot.geekigirl.com);
Tommy Ton (jakandjil.com);
Bryan Boy(bryanboy.com) and
Garance Dore (garancedore.fr/en).

"Bloggers have become the fashion world's new celebrities," says
Gerhardt. "They're knowledgeable and influential contributors to the modern
media landscape. Their opinions and visuals are relevant, creative and
thought-provoking, providing a constant source of inspiration. We are honoured
to pay homage to their style."


Designer Family Tree

Click on thumbnail to see the full res version.

I just made this Designer Family Tree to illustrate the three major players in the business of luxury goods: PPR, LVMH, and Richemont and their subsidiaries. From clothing, accessories, wines and spirits, to cosmetics, jewellery and watches, there is also an interesting incestual quality to the way the designers themselves switch from one label to another over the years...also fashion is still very much based in apprenticeships so there are many names under previous designers that you may recognize have their own labels today. The financial stats are also compared point-blank.