14 November 2007

Who will be this season's Kara Saun/Daniel V./Laura?


As anticipated as tonight's premiere of 'Project Runway' has been for my friends and me, I can't help but go into this season a little jaded and a lot sure that the designer behind whom I'll throw my love and support will fall victim to the same didn't-see-it-coming demise of Kara Saun, Daniel V. and Laura from PR installments one, two and three, respectively.


Before I continue on this topic, allow me a brief digression.


A few days ago, through an investigative tip, I came across a scathing critique of my blog and me. At first, I was pretty upset by the author's assertions that I wasn't "fashion-forward enough" to be proffering style advice to the women of DC, that my sense of style could be boiled down to an Alice+Olivia mini dress and a pair of Agent Provocateur bloomies, and most frustrating of all, that I "confuse good design with seasonal trends and a love of fashion with single-minded acquisitiveness."


The more I thought about these accusations, the more I wah-wah-wah-ed to friends about these accusations, the more I read and reread these accusations, the more upset I got.


To distract myself, I began thinking about this, my upcoming Project Runway post. Rolling various ideas over and over in my head, I thought about what direction it might take, what tone it might have, which moments in which season I might allude to, etc. All of sudden, somewhere between reminiscing about Santino Rice's Michael Kors impersonation and shuddering at thought of Wendy Pepper's general bitchiness, something clicked and my anger began to dissipate.


The author behind that critique was dead-wrong about most of her conclusions but she was right about one of them -- I'm not very fashion-forward. I'm just not. I don't look at a blouse or a jacket or a pair of shoes and find myself drawn to it because it triggers in me some kind of intellectual curiosity or because I "get" what that particular designer was trying to achieve with his/her collection. In the finale of each seasons one through three of PR, I sat confounded as Tim, Heidi, Michael, Nina, et. al, praised Jay's brilliant use of layered knits, Chloe's comfy-fresh take on femininity and (deep breath) the "seductive edginess" of Jeffery's white leather short shorts and skull-emblazoned blazers. Certainly I don't subscribe to a dismissive Andie-esque point of view when it comes to a design those who know more than I do about this subject consider "genius," on the contrary, I'm in awe of people who have an eye like Anna's or Scott's for recognizing the beyond-the-obvious aesthetic quality of a Dries van Noten coat, a Proenza Schouler dress or any other designer/non-designer piece that hints at an innovative new direction fashion might take.


As is the case in most areas of my life, I don't use my head to discern among those items of clothing I will actively pursue, those I actively won't and those that don't even register a blip on my like-it/don't-like-it radar. Instead, my selections fall where they may according to one criterion, something I like to call, "the heart-flutter test." Essentially, does it or doesn't it make me lose a bit of my breath when I see it, feel it, smell it or touch it? If it does, I'm all over it like an unhappily married partner on a pretty young associate. If it doesn't, then I move past it until I find something else that does evoke that feeling.


Just like Cathy Horynn said in her audio review of Paris Fashion week last month, some designers are virtually impossible for a woman not to love (Lanvin, Dior) and some take a bit of thoughtful consideration to appreciate (Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton). At present, I fall firmly and almost exclusively into the former category, though I am finding out through my burgeoning love for Alexander McQueen (and interest in not-typically-me dresses like this one) that I may one day strike a more even balance between the two.


When that does happen, when I do start to appreciate fashion as opposed to react to the prettiness of it, maybe I'll be better equipped to predict which Project Runway contestant will come out on top. Until then, I'll continue to align myself with the designer whose pieces most make my heart jump -- like those you'll see clipped below from Kara Saun, Daniel V. and most especially, m'lovely lady Laura.



Kara Saun, Season 1:

Daniel Vosovic, Season 2:


Laura Bennett, Season 3:

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your readership's waaay wider than DC, and I, for one, call to mind your pov and affinities when considering this or that addition to my wardrobe. I love the conversation over proportion, silhouette, and impact that I go through when coordinating items, pre-purchase,in my own head, the almost-suggestions with others on what may be intake-of-breath, good taste version of a style, and I absolutely reference your suggestions and examples. It's clothes, it's real, like music and smiling, it's how I have sunshine in my day!

Anonymous said...

I think the woman in the background of that Kate Bosworth pic is wearing your fave Mary Jane's.

K said...

Can NOT wait for tonight! Not at all!

denver fan said...

can we see this critique? is it online? I agree with anon 8:27, I actually hear your helpful voice when I'm picking out something new. You've helped me realize that choosing to look like a lady is one of the most powerful, confidence boosting decisions I could make. Thank you.

Can't wait for Project Runway tonight!

Anonymous said...

Laura was my fave too. I didn't like her personality all the time, but her clothes were amazing and I had a lot of respect for how well turned out she always looked despite having six kids (though it looked to be a little easier to do that when your husband is rich!)

I'm really really excited for the new episode!

Johanna said...

if you feel strongly one way or the other, would you please let me know if you prefer the pop-up window commenting or how I had it originally?

thanks!
J

Noelle said...

LOVE the pop-up window commenting.

capitulatenow said...

I think this is a reasonable reply to the "scathing critique" that my friend wrote on her blog, but I'm only able to form that opinion because I READ BOTH POSTS. Seriously, if you're going to talk about it, man up and link to it. Not all of your detractors are mindless and shrill; some of them have intelligent things to say.

Anonymous said...

I remember you doing an entry on good birthday gifts for girlfriends and I absolutely loved the suggestions. Now that Christmas time is quickly approaching I am thinking about gifts - and I am at a total loss - especially when it comes to buying something for my boyfriend who already has everything. I would be extremely grateful if you could do a Christmas gift list and include some family and boyfriend friendly gifts. TIA!

PS - I like the pop-up comment window better than how it was before.

m said...

I think whoever made those comments about ASJiNE not being "fashion-forward" is just jealous. Obviously, Johanna has hit a note with so many women in DC and beyond who like to look good. I'm not sure who that person is or where they live, but I'm not showing up to work in some so-called fashion-foward getup that includes cobalt blue tights (saw it on another fashion blog... ick). There's certainly a place, and a need, for a blogger who can help women dress for occassion and body type but doesn't feel the need to push everyone into runway styles.

Also counting down the minutes until Project Runway tonight...

Johanna said...

capitulate now-

I didn't want to link to your friend's post, because this morning, after I'd written this, I saw she'd written me a very nice e-mail and I didn't want to unleash the hounds on her site. I wasn't trying to keep hits away from her, honestly.

For those who want to see the post to which I was referring, click over to:

http://herroner.blogspot.com/2007/11/serious-job.html

best,
J

severedgrrl said...

Your blog is fantastic, its your point of view, don't let the haters get to you!

I admire fashion, but it is a fickle art that has many facets. While I may admire the new Louboutin pumps with the 5 inch heels and the bows on the back, can I afford them? Will I wear them more than a few times? Probably not. Keep doing what you are doing-I for one love it!

capitulatenow said...

Oh cool. Yeah, I understand your point about the "hounds." But (as you seem to know), defending yourself from, or ignoring, idiot comments doesn't really require all that much brainpower or backbone.

ay said...

I prefer the old way of commenting. The pop up's freaking me out. maybe just because it's new. See, I'm not fashion forward either, new things can be scary. Give me a classic look any day. I totally disagree with that review. boo on them and their lack of good style.

Anonymous said...

Love the pop up box. Please keep it!

Anonymous said...

Read the post, it was ridiculous and off the mark, but capitulatenow's description of your posting and the battle after is spot on and hilarious.

Anonymous said...

I think you have to focus on the fact that she visits your site once every few months, not everyday. She doesn't really have a full understanding of your style, only a snapshot or a couple of snapshots. That said, it was well written and well argued. You should feel flattered that a smart girl like she is was motivated enough by your blog to dedicate a post to it.

Because of its industries, DC needs to be a conservative town, style-wise. At least during the week, and I think you do a fantastic job at recommending looks and putting forth guidelines for that particular part of a DC woman's life. As for evening wear and going-out wear, sometimes I like what you suggest and sometimes (like today's Sugar Daddy dress - eh, not a fan) I don't.

As people have said in the past, your main draw is not the lens through which you see fashion but *how* you write about it. Your funny, charming and extremely well-written.

that's just my two cents....and no I'm not the commenter of similar name from yesterday ;-)

laura said...

All,

I think it's fair to say that Johanna is more concerned with STYLE and styling than fashion. I think her detractor's view (the fashion-as-wearable-art mindset) is a perfectly valid point of view, but it's not what ASJiNE is all about.

When I was a newspaper intern learning from the theater critic, she taught me that a good critic always judges the material at hand based on the INTENT of the author/company/costume designer, etc. For example, a community theater production of "Oklahoma!" must be critiqued from the perspective of "Is it good-quality family entertainment?" rather than "Is it Tony-worthy?"

Right there on her top page, Johanna states her concept: In her own words, she offers STYLE COUNSEL to DC women.

Obviously, on that level, Johanna and her blog are a smashing success. There is room to say that Johanna is not a "fashion expert" or even a (bleck!) "fashionista," but that was never her intent for herself or for her blog!

All that considered, then, clearly her detractor is off-the-mark at best, and condescending for the sake of being condescending at worst.

Cheers, Johanna! Maybe I'll regale you with my tales of meeting Wendy Pepper when I meet you at Shopping and Champagne. :)

not a fashion queen said...

I like the pop up because I can refer back to the original post.

Don't worry about her opinion. Everyone has a POV and if she doesn't like your POV she doesn't have to come back. The only thing I will agree on is you do find too many of you "since i don't yet have a sugar daddy' items at Urban Outfitters. I am not a fan of the store and sometimes wish you gave examples from a wider set of stores. I am just not a fan of their clothing.

Anonymous said...

I liked the old way of commenting.

And I think Laura's right; this is a style blog, not a fashion blog. By definition, the intent is practical and not about being fashionable for fashion's sake (which is not a bad thing, it's just not the point of ASJINE).

And, as we enter the Xmas season, on behalf of ALL your male readers, for the love of God please run some of those list pieces - 10 best whatsits. They go a long ways towards making shopping easier for us.

N-Y-i-E

bff in chicago said...

I am counting the minutes until I hear "make it work." I seriously almost took a sick day so I could watch the marathon and eat snacks.

actually, I did do that. Shhh...

london said...

keep the pop-up window! please!

As soon as I saw Laura in the first episode of last season I so knew you'd be behind her. She's Upper East Side to a "T" -- your dream girl/life.

Aside from all those ginger-headed children of hers. How many are there now? Five? I can't even imagine you in that situation.

I won't be there to watch it with you, this time around, but I'll be there in catty spirit. Give Monte a kiss for me.

love,
lg

london girl said...

london girl - oops!

dara said...

just read the critique and I don't know, I think commenter Laura is right. For what you set out to do, your blog is highly successful. for raising the bar in DC in terms of high fashion, I mean, it's outside the scope of your mission.

i love it to death, if that's any consolation. both your blog and project runway ;)

intern in the city said...

Laura's clothes = gorgeous

I think she's living most women's dream with her slim figure, rich husband and graceful air.

Only 7 more hours until the premiere!

Anonymous said...

did you piss someone off in a previous life and has she taken on the name NYCFashionBitch over on Project Beltway? Damn, that girl is fiery mad and always, ALWAYS picking on your relatively diplomatic comments. I think this is the third time that fool has told you to go back to Ann Taylor Loft/Dress Barn. It's almost embarrassing at this point...her dislike for you is clearly personal. Good thing she's in NYC, or I'd advise you to look into a restraining order.

Johanna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johanna said...

anonymous 2:58-

I have a feeling I know who it is. Best to just let "her" simmer down with no retort. "She" can play the brinksmanship game 'til "she's" blue in the face.

best,
J

p.s. you know you're becoming a stronger person when you read sh*t like that and it doesn't even bother you anymore. and frankly, I feel sorry for people who feel the need to dismiss entire stores like "she" does. clothing gems can be found just about anywhere...

knew you as hannie, too said...

I just read the bios of the new contestants, and I'm putting my money on Victorya as your favorite. She likes all-black, Lanvin and said if she could outfit anyone she would outfit "Someone with bad taste to make them fabulous".

So you.

lila m. said...

I'm already rooting for Victorya!

Anonymous said...

NYCFashionBitch clearly has something out for you. Even if I didn't agree with your aesthetic I certainly wouldn't feel justified in telling you too "loose yourself in the Ann Taylor Loft." either she doesn't read your blog and doesn't know what kind of style you promote or like anon implied, she simply has a bone to pick with J. either way, it comes off childish.

Laura losing to Jeffery was an atrocity. Ulli was pretty good and deserved second place, but Laura should've taken it over both of them. does that mean I'm not fashion-forward enough, either? darnit.

Kiki said...

Victorya's fashion "must have"?

Patent leather ankle boots.

I just can't see Johanna getting behind that. Although I was a huge Jeffrey fan from Day 1.

Johanna said...

I like the Jack's answer to the 'fashion must' question:

"a sugar daddy."

Johanna said...

Jack, not 'the Jack'

jessica said...

Even though I get that the "if I had a sugar daddy" posts aren't meant literally, I thought of you when I read "the Jack's" bio ;-)

s said...

anon 8:27 is right on with her comment that your reach goes beyond just DC. I live in Dallas, one of my girlfriends lives in Miami and the other in Atlanta, and we have daily e-mail chats about your posts. We all have different body types and different tastes, but we always agree that you're by far the most entertaining/informative fashion blogger out there for women who work and want to look good doing it. I don't know whether to kiss you or hit you for introducing me to Active Endeavors and Shopbop - it seems half my salary is sucked away toward purchases from them every month!

really, keep doing what you're doing.

sarahsouth said...

hannie, this blog is becoming a phenomenon; i just love watching the whole thing evolve. organized (and sloppy) criticism is inevitable when you get this big. i'm toasting you tonight with my glass of milk and chocolate chip cookie!
xo
ss

erin said...

I got not one, not two, but THREE compliments on my wine colored Calvin Klein Mary Janes today. I needed the boost (today was a sh*t day at the office), and because of you, I got it.

air kiss,
E

Johanna said...

not sure what y'all thought of the designs on tonight's show, but I favored Rami's, Chris's and (surprisingly) Christian's.

And did anyone notice anything um, *different* about this year's crop of models? Just sayin'...

elle said...

Um, yes, I believe the word is zaftig.

Kate said...

I also really liked Jillian (the orange mini halter) and Jack (the black and white was a bit too Ann Taylor, maybe, but the style was lovely with that huge bow in back).

Anonymous said...

Zaftig? You're joking, right? The only model who couldn't poke your eyes out with her collarbones is Ashley (Rami's model).

This group is not as bony as groups past, but "zaftig" certainly doesn't fit the bill.

sara said...

I'm with you on Rami, that dress was so beautifully draped, even on his rather unattractive model. I thought Jack's was quite cute and Marion's was interesting. I HATED Eliza's dress so much that I was practically shouting at the tv and I was really disappointed that she got to stay.

Johanna said...

I know this isn't going to be popular with many people, but I'm with Elle on this one. Runway models are supposed to be hangers, not *real* women. Clothing tends to drape better on a rail-thin figure, not a curvier one. Rami's was particularly non-model-ish, but there were several others who, compared to those models in seasons past, looked downright normal. I dunno, I prefer my models freakishly beautiful and freakishly thin.

In real life, it's a different story...

elle said...

Zaftig was a bit of a joke, but what's not a joke is having to tell some of those models that they should have been wearing bras.

laura said...

Zaftig? I had to look that up to make sure I had the meaning correct. The secondary definition is "pleasingly plump." I would say that all the models were on some level (if not beauty, than certainly interest) to look at, but in what universe are any of them "plump?" Maybe a bit comparatively, apples-to-apples larger than last year's batch, but I just can't attach the word "plump" to any of them.

laura said...

I meant to add the word "pleasing" in there..."pleasing" to look at.

Anonymous said...

I don't expect models to look like real women, either. But no one on that runway was remotely curvy.

And what's up with so many models being butterfaces?

Take a look at the pics in the "rate the runway" section. I have yet to see a curve.

http://www.bravotv.com/Project_Runway//index.php

Kate said...

All you needed to do to see a curve was look at Rami's dress. That girl has a serious rack - and one that he was certainly not expecting.

km said...

Kate, you're spot on. While Rami's model certainly wasn't "plump," she was definitely curvier than the others.

anon 12:34 - "butterfaces" - couldn't have said it better.

Anonymous said...

But...shouldn't designers expect women to have curves? Yes, even models. Because models are what we use to sell clothing. For women. As in women's clothing.

I'm not saying "curves" as the PC semiology for FAT. I am not talking a size 16 here, or even a 6.

I'm talking curves as in breasts, which women have. I'm talking curves as in thighs, which women have. Asses, too. I'm talking about the toned versions of all of these parts. But these are parts that women--even models--HAVE! They should have them; they're women.

Johanna said...

no, they're just *hangers*, actually.

that's my (terribly un-PC) view, though.

brown rowergirl said...

I agree that some of the models from last night were not of typical model weight, and that it was not just in their chests. They panned in on the legs of a few of them, and they were great legs, mind you, but they were *not* model legs. some of them didn't even look that tall. And a few definitely had the buttaface going on.

PR is a huge show, so it's not that they couldn't get better models. I'm perplexed.

elle said...

Remember what happened to Allison last season when she had the "zaftig" model? (zaftig was Tim's description, for the record) The bottom line is that runway clothes just look better on skinny hangers.

laura said...

I agree that, traditionally, runway clothes look better on "skinny hangers."

But I also this it's important--especially in an industry, a MEDIUM, as mercurial as fashion--to keep an open mind and be willing to embrace new ideas and new possibilities.

This season, the designers have curvier models. Will they embrace that, keep that in mind, and design accordingly, or will they remain static and continue on with a "hanger" mindset?

It is my opinion that the next movement in modeling and runway design will be a pendulum swing back toward curvier bodies. This is a GOOD thing, again in my opinion, because models aren't actually, literally hangers. They are women. If models are hangers, why not just send a row of dressforms down the runway?

Because dressforms don't have attitude, strut, and feminine wiles, that's why. Women do.

Shar said...

Clothing would drape just as well on a real body as it does on a hanger if it was made accordingly. In fact, I'd rather see a garment beatifully draped on a curving hip than a jutting hip bone. Models are women, not hangers. To objectify them as such is just as bad as men objectifying women, we are so not helping ourselves with these attitudes. Thats my humble opinion; otherwise I love this blog!

dara said...

shar,

depending on what your definition of "real" is, I'm not sure I agree. I know it's PC to think that a size 12 can wear a dress just as flatteringly as a size 4 or 6, but in most cases, that is just not true. there's a reason why runway models have always been thin (maybe not as thin as they are now but relative to the greater population, they are *thin*), and that is because clothing drapes better on a thinner frame. Of course, if you made it bigger it would drape over a bigger person, but that is definitely not how most designers intended their clothes to look.

I agree that jutting hip bones aren't attractive, but I really do think a size-2 model would represent the clothing more authentically than a size-8 or bigger.

And when Johanna says she sees women as hangers, I'm assuming she means while they're on the runway ONLY, not 24 hours/day. That's not objectifying, that's just stating the obvious.

Anonymous said...

So...who are these miraculous models who are a hanger while on the runway/in front of the camera, who then morph into something healthier the rest of the "24 hours/day?"

I do want to say that some women are naturally size 0 or size 2; that is how they are naturally healthy. But for so many other women...it's just irresponsible and dangerous to get to that point.

bff in chicago said...

when you choose a profession where your body is your livelihood, you choose to do whatever it takes to be successful at it. If a designer only wants girls who are a size 0 and you really want to work for that designer, then either get to a size 0 or find someone else whose standards aren't as strict.

It's like any profession, it's just more controversial because it involves a woman's body as her moneymaker. Literally.

Anonymous said...

modeling is not a profession where some women feel forced into it for money like say, stripping or prostitution. those who do it do it of their own free will. they know the standards and what will be expected of them body-wise from day one.

Carissa said...

Models' job is to sell clothing. It's the only time, I think, that you're supposed to focus and see the clothing instead of the person. Hence, they're prettified "hangers." That's why when that gray dress came down the runway, all you could see what how the fabric moved - I couldn't even tell you what the model looked like. And that's the point: she was selling how amazing that draping was.