Alexander McQueen 1969-2010 A Retrospective

Photos courtesy of Marcio Madeira for Style.com

The Fashion World Loses McQueen

 

The start of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week begins on a somber note.  This morning the fashion world awoke to the tragic news that future icon Alexander McQueen was found dead in his London home.  A statement released by his office stated: “On behalf of Lee McQueen’s family, Alexander McQueen today announces the tragic news that Lee McQueen, the founder and designer of the Alexander McQueen brand, has been found dead at his home.”

The company’s communications director, Samantha Garrett, discovered the body of the 40-year-old designer.  Scotland Yard was called to McQueen’s address at approximately 10:20 a.m. by an ambulance service after it had been reported that a man was found dead.  They said, “The death is being treated as non-suspicious.”

The sudden death of Alexander McQueen is sending shockwaves around the fashion world and Hollywood.  McQueen designs were a favorite among fashion trendsetters like Sarah Jessica Parker, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Penelope Cruz.  He was also set to show McQ’s fall 2010 collection, McQueen’s contemporary label, at New York Fashion Week today, but it was cancelled.

British fashion designers have always been known for their risqué, daring, outrageous and sometimes bizarre take on fashion; McQueen was no exception.  Starting in London’s West End, he created his own label in 1992 where his clients included Prince Charles and Mikhail Gorbachev.  In 1996, he became head designer for the prestigious Givenchy design house.  In 2000, he re-launched his Alexander McQueen line after Gucci Group acquired 51% of the company in a partnership deal with McQueen, who remained the creative director.  McQueen had his own boutiques in New York, London, Los Angeles, Milan and Las Vegas.

McQueen built an empire with his bold fashion and irreverent British bloke behavior.  His antics and early designs earned him an early reputation of “L’Enfant terrible”, but it wasn’t long before his genius would overshadow his tomfoolery.  McQueen was one of the youngest designers to named “British Designer of the Year”, a title he won four times between 1996 and 2003. 

Alexander McQueen and his mother Joyce

It has been reported that McQueen’s death is an apparent suicide. He was scheduled to attend his mother’s funeral Thursday morning; she died on February 2.   The death of Alexander McQueen stings now, as the shock of his demise is still being absorbed.  The true effect of his death is still to come.  The company will rally, announce a new creative director and continue on his legacy, as Versace did after the horrific murder of Gianni Versace in 1997.  However, no one will be able to replace the talent that was Alexander McQueen.  We did not just lose a great designer; he was a visionary with a distinct voice.  Today we lost an artist.

Can A Sneakerhead Be A Fashionista?

To say that a fashionista follows fashion fervently would be an understatement; to inhale and exhale fashion is the purpose of any true fashionista.  Style is the code in which she lives by. She can be spotted in the hottest labels. Keeping abreast of the latest trends, colors and accessories are a necessity.   For a fashionista to sacrifice a meal or two to buy the new Dior bag is not a far stretch of the imagination.  After all, that is what a paycheck is for.  Combing department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, and designer flagship stores to acquire the garments that feed her obsession is merely a form of exercise.   Publications like W, InStlye and Vogue must be absorbed like holy texts.  Events like Fashion Week are like pilgrimages to Mecca.  Fashion isn’t just an industry, it is a religion and a fashionista is a willing apostle.

Generally, the term fashionista is associated with high fashion.  Labels such as Christian Loubatian, Yves Saint Laurent, Zac Posen, BCBG, Herve Leger, Rock & Republic, and Diane von Furstenberg are frequent visitors to a fashionista’s closet.   But can Puma, Nike, Adidas, and Supras sit in the same closet as Prada?  Can a sneakerhead be considered as a fashionista too?

Sneakerheads are generally addicts of a male persuasion, but there are female sneakerheads. A sneakerhead is a person who is obsessed with the quest of owning multiple pairs of footwear.  This passion does not only extend itself to fascination of collecting, but also extends to the religion of fashion.  Sneakerheads are zealots.  Like an archeologist searching the graves of ancient lands in search of priceless relics, the goal of a true sneakerhead is to collect as many rare, vintage and limited edition sneakers as possible.  Sneakerheads accept the charge of a lifetime journey that can be costly; however the ends definitely justify the means.

Just as a fashionista creates a look that encompasses the right outfit, accessories, make-up and shoes; sneakerheads do the same.  For a sneakerhead, the sneaker is the foundation of the outfit and maximizing the hotness of the sneaker with the proper garments is absolutely necessary.   Also a sneakerhead needs to own a pair of sneakers that fits every occasion.  A female sneakerhead must have a pair of sneakers to go with jeans, skirts, slacks, and even evening gowns.  Don’t scoff, Cybill Shepherd once wore hi-tops to the Emmys and D. Woods of Danity Kane has worn hi-tops on the red carpet as well.   So yes Virginia, a sneakerhead can also be considered a fashionista.

She has boxes of Dunks proudly stacked by boxes of Jimmy Choos.  She has an outfit and accessories to go with her custom pair of Pumas as well as having the perfect outfit for taking her new Michael Kors bag out to play.   She is an aficionado on Versace and an authority on kicks.  She is a sneakernista.

All American Creation

“Born in the USA,” would definitely be the phrase used to describe An American Art and Craft Collective, held at Grown and Sewn, located at 184 Duane Street in Tribeca.  Inside this store is a perfect weaving of art and fashion. 

Figures

Bruce Springsteen’s classic song brought attention to the disenfranchised in America in the 1980s – those dealing with the repercussions of the Vietnam War, joblessness and a struggling economy.  In the wake of the Great Recession, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and issues with our environment, there is no greater time to have a merged exhibition like An American Art and Craft Collective, especially since we are on the verge of a new decade.

Purvis Young

An American Art and Craft Collective brings together the works of urban visual griot Purvis Young and the Grown and Sewn collection. Grown and Sewn Dry Goods Collection is an innovative approach to casual fashion.  The collection’s signature product is the “Kax” and takes the best elements from the khaki and jean. 

The Kax is 100% cotton and is washed, baked and finished.  Every aspect of Grown and Sewn is American made down from the cotton used in the clothing to the rivets sewn on the Kaxs.  All the manufacturing of this product is made in the USA, with almost every region of the country contributing to bring Grown and Sewn to the masses.  This clothing line makes a powerful statement toward fixing what ails our society by offering a product that is environmentally friendly and provides jobs to Americans. 

Up in Arms against the System, c. 1987

The work of Purvis Young is provided by Skot Foreman Fine Art.  Purvis is a self-taught artist out of Overtown, Miami, Florida.  In his work he reuses squiggly lines and eyes to display the underbelly of American society, individuals caught in the system of poverty, incarceration and street life.  His pieces are full of rage, passion and reality that shine a spotlight on topics that most people would rather not focus on. 

Angel Baby Crib, c.1991

Purvis used the debris of Overtown, old cribs and pieces of wood, to create a body of work that tells a specific story, a somber story, that is nonetheless part of the American experience.  What is more disturbing to me is the thought that without artists like Purvis Young, this story would not be heard. 

Although I have viewed Purvis’ work before, seeing it in this setting was like witnessing it for the first time.  Purvis’s work is layered in such a way that upon each viewing a new facet is discovered.  The store’s décor also added a special element to his work.  There are huge bales of cotton cleverly placed through out the store; the tables are hand crafted with antique figurines and an old sewing table.  These raw components help to accentuate the coarse quality of Purvis’ work. 

Eyes, c. 1992

An American Art and Craft Collective will be on display until January 15, 2010 and is a marriage about what is best about American culture at a time when America needs it most.  After braving the blistering wind to get to Tribeca, I was electrified by what I saw and warmed with a renewed sense of hope.

Photos of Purvis Young’s artwork courtesy of Skot Forman Fine Art and Purvis Young.com

B. Productions Grown and Sexy

Bill Marpet

The sun gives off a luminous glow as I step out of a taxi in front of 583 Park Avenue.  As I watch the doormen stand patiently outside the venue waiting for guests and the fashion elite to arrive, I notice Bill Marpet walking down the street.  He is dressed in a blue suit with white New Balance sneakers; his salt and pepper hair is pulled back in the classic ponytail that he has become known for.  The mantra for the day is comfortable chic.  Bill escorts me through the doors.  The hall inside of 583 Park Avenue is breathtaking.  An enormous chandelier hangs from center of the ceiling.  The green and white décor, Chaenomaeles trees, and white chairs exude a resort feel. The u-shaped runway is barren, but soon their will be a cadre of young women stomping in their heels, sporting luscious creations from Oscar De La Renta’s Resort collection. 

Bill working behind the scenes.

Once inside Bill begins checking on last minute details with B Productions assistant director J.D. Moll.  He discusses capturing the models as they walk with the crew downstairs, then it is up to the control area in the balcony where Bill will remain until the end of the show.  Everyone appears calm, but inside they know the stakes are high.  So much is riding on the next fifteen minutes, there is no room for error and nothing can be repeated.  After the show is over Bill leaves quietly through the door, the next step is to edit the film that was shot.  

That was my official introduction to Bill Marpet and B Productions last year; however I had a long standing relationship with this niche company that I was unaware of.  Some might say the Bill Marpet is the Keyser Söze of fashion; most models work with him and don’t know it. Bill doesn’t have a face as recognizable as Tracey Reese, Donna Karen or Ralph Lauren, but if you have watched Full Frontal Fashion then you have seen his work. 

Bill Marpet and Michael Kors

He and his team are the magicians behind the scenes ensuring that the designer’s runway shows are shot and edited for presentation to the masses.  B Productions videotapes over 300 runway shows yearly.  These videos have been shown on various channels including NBC, CBS, Fox and Oxygen.  For a man that devotes a huge portion of his working year to taping runway shows, fashion was not an industry Bill envisioned for his career path.  “I was a freelance camera man when I started out,” Bill comments about the creation of B. Productions, “I started getting hired to shoot things, not just fashion, but news magazines.  Then I started getting busy beyond what I could do.  I started hiring other cameramen to fill in, and that’s when I started the company.”

B. Productions was created in 1983 with a crew of two people.  It has now grown into a full scale production company hiring freelance crew to accommodate the demands of Fashion Week.  “In the beginning,” Bill says, “it was mostly fashion clients, and it was mostly the bigger names. Early clients were Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, [and] Anne Klein.” 

Bill Marpet and Carolina Herrera

From these early clients B Productions and Bill Marpet created a place to call their own within the fashion industry. “Designers didn’t have a record on video of their collections, Bill says, “they had their own shops within stores like Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman and they wanted video that they could show there.  They wanted their own vision translated into video.  Gradually it just kind off steamrolled and kept going; I got selected more than me picking [clients] out.  When I first started my business we were doing around fifteen percent fashion, after a few years it grew into about eighty percent fashion and I kind off fell into this niche.” 

This niche is the cornerstone of B Productions, but this company isn’t only known for fashion.   Besides fashion B Productions shoots image pieces and corporate videos, news releases, commercials and documentaries.  Their hard work has garnered Bill and B Productions many accolades such as a CEBA and New York Emmy.

I’m sure for Bill Marpet and the members of B. Productions, 1983 must seems light years away. Generally when a model turns 26 he or she begins to think of other career options, but the appeal for B. Production’s services has only increased. When the tents were raised for the 2010 spring collections at Bryant Park B Productions videotaped over 100 shows and events, they also hit the internet taping a block of webisodes for WWD.com.  The titans of 7th Avenue still look to B. Productions to produce video that shows the artistry and sexiness of the fashion industry, sometimes getting old isn’t a bad thing.    

  Photos courtesy of J.D. Moll of B. Productions

Welcome To F.A.M.E NYC

F.A.M.E NYCWelcome to F.A.M.E NYC!

F.A.M.E NYC is an acronym for fashion, arts, music and entertainment and centers on one of the Meccas for all these industries, New York City.

“I love New York” is not just a slogan for us at F.A.M.E NYC.  We comment on the New York City we are privileged to witness everyday, and all the elements that makes New York City one of the greatest cities on Earth.

This online publication  is dedicated to New York fashion, arts, music and entertainment and is for any lover of NYC.

Included in the fashion segments will be models, designers, retailers, etc. that have locations in NYC as well as Fashion Week.

Our arts segments will include NY based artists, galleries, performance artists as well as Broadway and off Broadway.

Our music and entertainment segments will also come from a New York state of mind with special dedication given to NYC nightlife and dining.

We hope you will all come on this journey with us as we share with you our version of F.A.M.E in NYC and those who are on a quest for it.  There are a million stories in Big Apple, these are ours.

Enjoy!