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    This may be an unpopular view but I'm going to go with yes.

    Each week Shift editor Amy Odell answers your fashion questions. Write early and often to amy.odell@buzzfeed.com.

    I'm going to a Labor Day BBQ with a girlfriend this weekend. I have a fedora that I think is cute with this cute trim of pastel-colore stripes. I never wear it because, you know, who thinks to wear a hat? But I said something to this friend like, "Oh I can finally wear that fedora!" And she said something like, "I can't be seen with you in a fedora." She was kidding, but in that way that you know she sort of meant it. So, will I be the Token Fedora Douche if I show up in a fedora?

    No, because if you're legitimately concerned about coming off that way, you're not trying to come off that way, which is the subtext of the fedora outfits that rub a lot of people the wrong way. For example, this rich kid of Instagram:

    Source: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m97w5rGtkx1rb86ldo1_400.jpg

    The fedora is like the cherry on the douche sundae this photo is. The photo is bothersome because you see this Instagram (captioned "Our ride.") and think wow, this was only taken and posted because these people wanted to show off how "badass" they are. No one likes people who try to show off how badass they are, if their only reason for being badass is an assembly of materialistic things (here: a helicopter, her trendy printed pants, his trendy sockless loafers, her hat). Granted, we don't know who these people are, or why they have the helicopter, but the default assumption is that it's not for any admirable reason (say, she sings like Aretha Franklin, or he runs an awesome successful tech company). The default assumption, probably because these two look so young, is that their parents made this materialistic way of being an alleged badass possible for them, that they didn't have to work for it. It's, to many people who struggle or at least work hard for basic comforts, a repulsive idea. The fedora has become synonymous with this kind of look. It's an accessory as seemingly unnecessary as the "Our ride." caption on this photo. It says, "I am trying to be a badass by wearing something totally unnecessary. I am wearing this thing because some God of Hipsterdom said it was cool, and I am willing to TRY to fit into that perceived notion of cool, without trying to write a my own definition of cool. I am taking the definition of cool that was handed to me — like this helicopter."

    That said, you can wear a fedora and not give off this kind of vibe. One, don't arrive to the party by helicopter, private jet, or limo. Two, wear it because it's cute and functional (it hides a bedhead, shields eyes from the sun, and protects the face from UV rays). Three, don't wear it with the standard "Look how cool I am" outfit. This means, probably, avoiding studded jean shorts and super high Jeffrey Campbell booties. Instead, try a breezy gingham button-down shirt, jorts and thong sandals. Then, you will not look like a douche. You will look like someone who wanted to be comfortable, cute, and functional instead of someone who was going out of their way to be like everyone else and make a pointed fashion statement via fedora about how good at that they are.

    And besides, non-fedora hats can be just as douchey!

    Source: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7kpfiWCrK1rb86ldo1_400.jpg


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    Despite the unfailing adoration she receives from the fashion industry, Michelle Obama's style remains surprisingly relatable, likable, and not weird.

    Michelle Obama's style has made her one of the world's foremost fashion plates — even though she never looks weird or edgy in that way fashion people love. And she very well could wear things that look weird or edgy, given some of the labels she likes, like Rodarte, Alexander McQueen, or Zero Maria Cornejo. But most of the time, she manages to look stylish and ladylike and down-to-earth without being so trendy that she doesn't make sense or seems intimidating. The First Lady, who is certainly not immune to wardrobe gaffes (when so much attention is placed on one person's wardrobe, it's bound to get them into trouble from time to time), wore just this kind of outfit to deliver her speech at the Democratic Convention Tuesday night. It was, predictably, the perfect balance of stylish, ladylike, and down-to-earth.

    Image by Eric Thayer / Reuters

    The Tracy Reese dress came in a brocade print with a bright pink and blue/gray color scheme that is very "now" in terms of runway trends. But the a-line shape and high neckline kept the dress far from intimidatingly trendy territory. Also, it was almost as bright as Ann Romney's RNC look but dissimilar enough that you probably wouldn't think the two women dressed alike for their big moments. This was an important distinction for Obama to make for image and message purposes.

    Another glaring difference between Ann's RNC look and Michelle Obama's DNC look was the jewelry. Both kept it to a minimum, but Ann accessorized her red Oscar de la Renta dress with a chunky gold bracelet on one wrist and a less chunky but still apparent gold watch on the other, which made her look just a touch spendier. Michelle's wardrobe is not anywhere near cheap or even affordable, but she works to make it seem that way, by skipping the chunky gold jewelry or wearing, as she did tonight, something by a mall brand like J. Crew (in this case, the store's $245 Everly seude pumps, which I'm sure will now sell out).

    And even though Michelle usually looks like a normal dresser — which she's definitely not, given her vast array of designer things and the fashion industry's fanaticism for everything she wears and does — she still comes up with unexpected touches that make her, well, kind of cool. Tuesday night, it was the nail polish.


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    It took 26 minutes, garnered 28,000 tweets per minute, and included 29 mentions of Barack.

    Image by Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters

    28,003
    The number of tweets per minute once Michelle Obama's speech ended, or "about double the number after Romney's acceptance speech last week, which was 14,289 tweets per minute at its peak," reports USA Today.

    26
    The number of minutes Michelle's speech took. (Ann Romney spoke for 22 minutes.)

    13
    The number of times Michelle said "mom" or "mother" in her speech. (Ann said "mom" or "mother" 12 times.)

    7
    The number of times Michelle said "women." (Ann said women twice, including once to deliver the famous line: "I love you, women!")

    6
    The number of times Michelle said "husband." (Ann said "husband" twice.)

    29
    The number of times Michelle said "Barack." (Ann said "Mitt" 15 times.)

    0
    The number of times Michelle said "Mitt Romney." (Ann also did not mention Barack Obama in her RNC speech.)

    7
    The number of grade levels above Ann Romney's speech Michelle's speech was written, reports the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. According to the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, which assesses "the readability level of written text" and translates it to a grade level, the school determined Michelle's speech was at a 12.84 grade level, while Ann's was at a 5.80 grade level.

    5
    The number of pre-DNC speech "Who Wore It Better" polls by E! Michelle beat Ann Romney in. Ann beat Michelle in only one of six face-offs: blue dresses!!!

    $695
    The estimated pre-tax cost of both Michelle Obama's Tracy Reese dress and J. Crew shoes. The dress has not hit stores yet, so the price is being pinned at around $395 to $450 judging by the brand's similar styles currently on the racks. We also do not know the cost of Michelle Obama's earrings. (The red Oscar de la Renta shirtdress Ann wore for her RNC speech has a $1,990 price tag, according to the Times.)


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    She doesn't act — or even dress — like the diva she very well could be.

    Azealia Banks performing Wednesday night.

    Azealia Banks did something remarkable last night: she started her show on time. This sounds like not a big deal. But her performance was a precursor to New York Fashion Week, which begins Thursday and consists of a series of events and fashion shows that are often partly defined by how not on time they are (once one event is late, the next event has to be late, etc.). The cooler you are, the more likely audiences of editors, buyers, and various pretty people are to wait to witness your genius. Banks is the kind of person who could have had us all there at the Wythe Hotel party, put on by Spin magazine and Refinery 29 in the hipster heartland of Williamsburg, standing in our painful party shoes for hours on end. But she came out not long after 10, performed her few songs with just two backup dancers, and didn't say anything weird to be controversial or get attention the whole time.

    Not every Fashion Week has its breakout stars — designers or celebrities who create something that everyone wants to be, or at least be around — but Banks, I predict, will be one of them this season: a clothes-wearer that gets people excited about style again.

    A lot of fashion industry members have developed a habit of rolling their eyes over celebrities who sit in the front row at shows, indicating their discomfort over the at times painful reality that fashion and celebrity are so intertwined that it feels like one cannot exist without the other. It's annoying for people in the business, who have to go to these shows all day every day for a very tedious month, to attend show after show stuffed to the gills with celebrities who are present in a designer or publicist's sort of sad hope that they can get the world to pay attention to the event at hand, attracting swarms of rabid photographers and mayhem that's just a headache to be around all the time. The irritation is compounded by the fact that many of these celebrities pose as clothing designers or models themselves, with their Kohl's and H&M lines and campaigns that the public happily expends loads of money and enthusiasm on.

    Banks has already appeared in a campaign for Alexander Wang, arguably the coolest designer of New York Fashion Week. She filmed a video to promote his lower-priced T by Alexander Wang line, in which she raps a bit from her single "Van Vogue." A lot of fashion labels put out these videos in an attempt at viral marketing and they're pointless. But this, because it consisted of new footage of Banks rapping, and because that footage is so compelling (her original "212" video has 30 million views on Vevo) was kind of great.

    Given her alliance with the brand, I expect her to lend her hipness to the Alexander Wang show this Fashion Week, as an audience member or maybe something more. More people will freak out in excitement than will roll their eyes. Because we know this about Banks: she doesn't have to show up wearing a birthday cake on her head or sparklers on her boobs to be cool. This is because her facade as a rapper does not feel that far removed from her as a human being.

    At her Wythe Hotel show she wore black leather shorts connected, overalls-style, to pointy black leather bra cups, dark lipstick, and round shades that came on and off as she rapped. Her nipples weren't out, she didn't look like a dumpster of neon and sparkly excess pop music fans have grown accustomed to, and she wasn't going to trip because of a pair of ungodly high shoes. After years of Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj, Banks just feels like a relief. I can look at her without feeling exhausted. She has the balls to come out without all that extra crap, without being presumptuous enough to make her fans wait for her show for three crappy hours, and perform for a crowd of hipsters a song that has an outro that coyly mocks Whole Foods and Kambucha. (Which: FINALLY. Don't you wonder why everyone drinks that stuff when it's gross anyway?) And she did it face to face with the audience, her stage consisting only of a carpet that looked like an amalgamation of Home Depot rug samples. It was shockingly unpretentious — which is exactly why the fashion world would be so wise to embrace her.


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    I guess it's not technically a tramp stamp since it was positioned in the upper part of her lower back… or is it? #DeepThoughts #YouDecide

    Madonna performed at Yankee Stadium in New York Thursday night as the first woman to headline the arena. Perhaps in hyper-awareness of America and a performance time slot that competed with President Obama's Democratic National Convention speech, right after sort of mooning the crowd by lowering her pants to expose her fishnet- and thong-clad butt, Madonna said she'd rather show the crowd "her feelings" and unleashed the Obama tattoo. I am deeply jealous of whoever got close enough to take this Instagram.

    Source: o.twimg.com

    She also gave the crowd a short lecture about how lucky we are to live in America and be free. It was the vague kind of sermon you expect at this sort of huge pop concert. But the least vague and therefore most exciting part of her mostly not truly meaningful words came when she named actual proper nouns. "Thank God for Michelle Obama and her good-looking husband too," she told the crowd, to wild applause. Watch here:


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    The event began four years ago as a way to try to get people to support fashion and shopping in the worst of the recession when no one could afford anything. Whether or not you're “better off now,” the tradition continues today with events in stores around the world involving celebrities, bad art, and weird stunts. Here's a recap.

    First up: New York

    First up: New York

    Alice + Olivia hired models to have a pillow fight. Nothing says "go shopping!" like skinny people whacking the crap out of each other with dainty purple pillows.

    Image by Andrew Kelly / Reuters

    People who came out to support the FNO cause wore their most eye-catching (read: necessary) accessories.

    People who came out to support the FNO cause wore their most eye-catching (read: necessary) accessories.

    This gentleman, which the wire image service tells me is "jewellery [sic] designer Brooklyn" is pictured looking at the Diane Von Furstenberg store. Seriously considering spending his money to support the fashion business, surely.

    Image by Andrew Kelly / Reuters

    A dangerous sex rabbit roams the Meatpacking District.

    Image by Andrew Kelly / Reuters

    The MAC store had Azealia Banks perform.

    The MAC store had Azealia Banks perform.

    She made a lipstick for them, or something. Whether or not the event prompted anyone to buy a significant amount of makeup there remains unclear.


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    Sponsor a fashion show to get pictures of models (and Sarah Jessica Parker) wearing them!

    Image by Andrew Kelly / Reuters

    Hours before her show on Sunday, Diane Von Furstenberg sent out a press release announcing that Google Glass would figure into it. The release — subject line: "Glass Hits the Runway at the DVF Spring 2013 Fashion Show" — did not explicitly call this special accessory "Google Glasses," perhaps because that doesn't sound very chic. But lo! There they were on the runway looking... chic? Or FREAK?

    Image by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

    Image by Andrew Kelly / Reuters


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    You have a lot of weird tan lines — and hair thongs — in your future.

    Scarves are entire outfits.

    Scarves are entire outfits.

    Very pretty outfits that I join the fashion world in being kind of obsessed with.

    (Altuzarra.)

    Image by Arun Nevader / Getty Images

    And so it follows: fringe can be a fetching addition, not just an outfit-ruining enemy.

    And so it follows: fringe can be a fetching addition, not just an outfit-ruining enemy.

    (Altuzarra.)

    Image by Arun Nevader / Getty Images

    Sleeves? Eff those!

    Sleeves? Eff those!

    (Altuzarra.)

    Image by Arun Nevader / Getty Images

    (Altuzarra.)

    Image by Keith Bedford / Reuters


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  • 09/10/12--10:49: The Struggles Of Girl Models
  • This story has nothing to do with eating disorders. Models' biggest problems — like getting paid for their work and maintaining decent working hours — are actually much more basic than that.

    The documentary Girl Model tells a story that might resonate with a lot of models currently walking the runways at New York Fashion Week. Released last Wednesday in New York, the film follows a 13-year-old aspiring model plucked from her home in Siberia and sent to Tokyo to pursue a career that agents have promised will be lucrative. The girl is hopeful; her family is poor. But she gets stuck without her parents or a chaperone in an unregulated system, doesn't get the work she was promised, and leaves Japan $2,000 in debt.

    The film highlights the exploitative side of the modeling industry, populated by very young girls who travel to foreign countries to often work without chaperones or things as basic as work hour limits and monetary compensation. Models' lives of world traveling, free designer clothes, and physical perfection are easy to envy from the outside. But these girls often miss out on a lot, like proper paychecks and health insurance — and sometimes even a say over whether or not they'll be Photoshopped in photographs to appear nude.

    Some veteran models are working to change that — but these are longstanding problems, and change can only happen slowly.

    The Model Alliance, a New York-based organization founded by former model Sara Ziff, is working to eradicate the kinds of injustices highlighted in the film. On a recent afternoon in the dimly lit lower level of the downtown Manhattan Coffee Shop restaurant, a group of around 100 lanky, six-foot-ish, mostly teenage girls have gathered to hear Ziff and model Coco Rocha speak. This audience of young models represents what beauty will look like on the runways at New York Fashion Week, which runs through Thursday. They have perfect skin, the kind of legs that are actually served well by a pair of underwear-sized cutoffs, and the sort of expensive-looking rumpled clothes and hair that has become fetishized by street style photographers and designers alike. But they're just as easily taken advantage of as they are idolized.

    Image by Keith Bedford / Reuters

    "In Paris and Milan isn't it fascinating that we get paid during the shows?" Rocha asks the audience. At the New York shows, payment for runway modeling often comes in the form of free clothing instead of actual money. "If the girls who start off are like, it's not okay if we get paid in a jacket that's a sample and ripped in the back — think about it and say, if I say yes then the girl after me will say yes," she explained. "I'm in my 16th season here in New York. Shouldn't I get paid? If you say no that means the next girl will probably say no."

    It seems clear at this event that a lot of these girls need an advocate. One girl approaches Ziff in tears after the talk because of a problem with her agency. Ziff also tells the crowd about a top model who came to the Model Alliance because her agency was keeping $50,000 from her — which is illegal — and she didn't know how to handle it.

    After the event, she says she was approached by several girls currently on the New York Fashion Week casting circuit who are 14 or 15 years old. "There was one girl who was from Lithuania, and she approached me after the talk and said, I'm 15, should I have a chaperone with me? And I said are you here by yourself? And she said yeah, and I said where are your parents? And and she said at home. And I said is your agency providing a chaperone? And she said no, and I don't know if someone like that is the exception," Ziff says. "I don't think anyone would disagree that really young models generally are not willing or able to stand up for themselves or ask to be paid for their work or set limits on the kind of pictures they want to take and whether they want to appear nude or not. I think models who are more established tend to be older, and once they have some show seasons under their belt and they've been the face of some campaigns, they command more money and they are not going to stay at a fitting til 3 o'clock in the morning, and they're going to want to be paid and things like that." But no one can force the industry to take these things a lot more seriously. And many attempts to get them to start lead to only small gains.

    Models aren't unionized the way Hollywood actors are, so it's tough for them to work together to affect change in the industry, even if it's for stuff as basic as commanding an actual paycheck for their work. The Model Alliance, by fighting for the things unions regulate, like decent work hours, pay, and working conditions, is helping with that problem. But they're going up against longstanding traditions in an industry that has a culture of tiptoeing around the delicate feelings of powerful people who could be offended by their demands. And this season at New York Fashion Week, while things show signs of improving for models, plenty of young girls will find themselves working long, late hours without proper meal and rest breaks or chaperones, with little or no money to show for it.

    At a Model Alliance panel discussion following a screening of Girl Model this past spring, the question was raised of why a top label like Marc Jacobs doesn't pay its runway models for walking in its shows. "The audience was mostly agents and models and everyone clapped," Ziff recalls. "I understand a brand new designer asking favors. [Marc]'s at the helm of a big global brand."

    The team at Marc Jacobs may have heard about this discussion. A rumor is now going around that the label will pay its models in real money for the first time ever this season. (The brand did not respond to BuzzFeed Shift's request for comment.) But one model who did not want to be named told me Marc Jacobs "says they're going to pay every season and never do."


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    Where everyone now works so hard to say something new with their clothes, the most unexpected thing one might do with them is… nothing unusual at all. My dispatch from the runways explains.

    Anna Dello Russo with Michelle Harper and other fashion people at the Prabal Gurung show.

    Judging by the "survival kits" that are sent to me prior to every New York Fashion Week, you might assume the twice-yearly event consists of the following:

    1. Beatings. The kits inevitably include Band-Aids. The Band-Aids might also make you assume I am a child, since they tend to come in colorful prints instead of nude tones. Often the prints are thanks to a "collaboration" with a designer who agreed to lend their genius to Band-Aid design.

    2. Starvation. Sustenance provided to me by the sponsors assembling the kits tends to include a fiber or energy bar, or pack of nuts. Something not really delicious but that you'll eat if you're really in need of solid food.

    3. Severe staining. Stain remover and often a T-shirt are provided so that you can spill all over yourself and then change into your swag. This season's free tee says "#FASHION WEEK PROBLEMS" in red letters, as though it was written with a tube of red lipstick. Although, judging by the look of most people who attend Fashion Week, if you were to wear this your biggest #fashionweekproblem would be that very T-shirt.

    I'm happy to report that about five days in I have eaten my free low-calorie chocolate chip granola bar, but have not starved, been beaten, lost my shirt — or been in danger of not surviving. Contrary to how it seems most of the time, Fashion Week really doesn't have to be that much work.

    The event is eight days long and began officially on Thursday. My journey into the season began Wednesday night, at the party Refinery 29 and SPIN magazine threw for Azealia Banks, who stars in ads for Alexander Wang's T clothing line and covers SPIN's style issue and is generally regarded as very cool (I will admit she's the only person who seems to make leather shorts necessary). At this party it became clear that socks will be a cornerstone of male style expression this season: the dudes in attendance were either emphatically anti- or pro-sock. The sockless rolled up their pants to flaunt their naked ankles, while at the opposite end of the spectrum, thick white tube socks were worn hiked up around the calf with chunky brown hiking boots and shorts.

    One guy carrying an acid wash messenger-style purse wore white tube socks pulled up to his knees, under long gray jersey shorts under a sarong-like thing made of the same fabric. It was basically an exaggerated man skort with a drop crotch that he might have made himself. A white Members Only jacket, Nike sneakers and a flat-brimmed baseball hat with "St. Louis" in big cursive letters finished the look. A girl in a crocheted white tank and cropped black pants, lest this very worked-on outfit and moment go undocumented, took his picture with a big white iPad, which, yes, still looks incredibly awkward as a camera.

    Seeing the two of them together made me realize how much more creatively the men at this event were dressed. It might not even be an exaggeration to say that 70 percent of the ladies there wore some version of the same outfit: faded black cutoff shorts, ankle boots, and a loose-fitting top with hair pulled into an intentionally messy top knot. This Look is very Madewell or Alexa Chung or Alexa Chung for Madewell, the line that created a new standard and breathlessness for hipster fashion. With this many people wearing the same ideas, it really is time for a new round of collections. #fashionweekproblems.

    Azealia Banks.

    Now nearly five days of shows are finished and as tempting as it is to call out trends, the wise Vogue editor André Leon Talley once told me, you can't identify them a few days into a month-long season. (After New York comes three more weeks of shows in London, Milan, and Paris.) But it certainly has seemed like, for the past couple of seasons and this current season, that the disheveled look is not of interest to designers. There's no point in them making the stuff we all already have (cutoffs, punctured tights, crocheted tank tops — anything wrinkled or ripped for no reason). Things are stain-free and dressy — and lots of the folks going to Fashion Week seem to realize that.

    Sitting on the front row of the Richard Chai Love show Thursday is Harper's Bazaar editor Joanna Hillman, who is a street style celebrity, famous for her pretty, put-together clothes, long blonde side-parted hair and bright red lipstick. On Chai's front row she was impossible to miss in purple-and-white pants that look like the kind of special thing you plan all your other clothes and Life around, rather than just bottoms. Many of her and her fellow street style blog stars' clothes look like this, and it became unclear seasons ago how much of her look is for her fans and the photographers that follow her, and how much of it is just for her. Where does one draw the line between wearing certain clothes to not be naked and wearing certain clothes because they feel like they should?

    Across the runway from Hillman, also on the front row, sat a more famous person, Nick Cannon, who spent the minutes before the show with a crush of reporters kneeling at his feet. His hat, worn backwards, read "1st Class" in big cursive letters. Given the willingness of the press to drop to their knees to record probably mundane quotes from him, this hardly needed to be stated. One reporter was so smiley that she even said, "Enjoy the show," when she finished talking to him, as though it was partly her responsibility to ensure Cannon had a good time.

    This show consisted of pretty, easy-to-wear things in watercolor prints with cut-outs around the torso that I have a hard time imagining anyone but a model wearing. I am comforted by how easy-to-walk-in the shoes are — nothing makes me feel bad for models in quite the way a pair of insanely high shoes and floor-grazing dress does. These girls are tall already, so if they fall it's a long way down — and they don't have a lot of padding to cushion them.

    The shoe/tripping situation was a different story on the runway of the Parsons MFA show at Milk Studios Saturday, where I arrived late to be greeted coldly by a perfectly made-up blond wearing all-black (for some reason, PR people working at the shows always wear coordinating all-black as though they might need to gather to break out in synchronized song and dance at any moment). She told me the doors were closed, which was a lie, since I went up to the second floor anyway and am allowed to slip in by a PR person who is in an opposite state of mind: excited that another person showed up for the show.

    The clothes there were interesting. Fashion students are often eager to put something avant garde on the runway, perhaps because they simply want to be discovered and don't have to worry nearly as much as some other designers do about making things that will sell because they're more normal-looking. Though some pieces were boxy, some metallic, some made of chiffon, and some entirely of yarn, lots of things looked like a nightgown or muu muu in some form or other. Not that it's all comfortable thanks to some heels that are so insanely high and chunky they could serve as storage units if hollowed out. But there was a lot of trying here — these clothes are not the cutoffs you made last season or the socks you decided to stop wearing, but full of the "look at me" sentiment that permeates the front row of Fashion Week more and more each season.


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    Looking like a jail bird is so NOW.

    Oh HIII Marc Jacobs! The most hotly anticipated New York Fashion Week show walked last night and offered more New Rules than the rest of them. Let's spend some time with this one.

    Image by Seth Wenig / AP

    Pants are optional, barcodes are not.

    Pants are optional, barcodes are not.

    Also, WHAT did I say yesterday about a white T-shirt??

    (Marc Jacobs.)

    Image by Joe Kohen / Getty Images

    If your outfit is puzzling, it's okay to look puzzled.

    If your outfit is puzzling, it's okay to look puzzled.

    A model emotes on the Marc Jacobs runway.

    Image by Joe Kohen / Getty Images

    Low, hip-hugging bottoms will save all the hipsters from their high-waisted wedgies.

    Low, hip-hugging bottoms will save all the hipsters from their high-waisted wedgies.

    After alllll that high-waisted stuff, might we start seeing the kinds of low-slung bottoms that require a bikini wax to wear? I can't be the only one who constantly feels nostalgic for early Britney Spears.

    (Marc Jacobs.)

    Image by Joe Kohen / Getty Images


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    “We don't eat because it's Fashion Week.” “We just pretend.” I want to transcribe every word of this interview with Anna Dello Russo and read it over and over again.

    New York Fashion Week is bringing all kinds of amazing fashion women together. Such as: street style godmother Anna Dello Russo and street style photographer Garance Doré, who interviewed ADR about her accessories line for H&M in a video that is just so... Two Fashion People Walk Into a Macaron Shop.


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    Make it as exclusive as possible by inviting as few people as possible. Also: People still wear fur.

    The Council of Fashion Designers of America's CEO Steven Kolb's Holmes & Yang Instagram.

    I asked one fashion editor what THE must-see event of this New York Fashion Week was. I expected her to hem and haw over whether the Altuzarra or Alexander Wang show was more exciting but then there’s always Marc Jacobs who is consistently a thrill — but no. There was no doubt in her mind when she answered: “Holmes & Yang.” That’s Katie Holmes’s clothing line, which is sold only at fancy and expensive stores like Barneys and includes simple blouses and cardigans that often cost about $1,000. “That’s a show that’s very exclusive,” this editor told me. “Only the top people get to go. I won’t get to go.”

    Exclusive. There’s that word. It’s the adjective that separates “fashion” and “clothes”; top tier people from middle tier people; and frenzied speculation from an average level of interest.

    Exclusivity is key to the fashion and luxury goods business. It exists in high price tags that prohibit people without a certain amount of money from buying things. It exists in diet and exercise and beauty regimens that require money, time, and willpower only available to a select group. Exclusivity creates the us and the them, the coveted and the mundane. It does wonders for a line by a woman like Holmes, who wears yellow sundresses and jean jackets that look much more Gap than fantasy fashion goddess.

    Celebrities have found great success over the past couple of years by showing unexpectedly high-end fashion lines like this. Victoria Beckham and the Olsen twins’ The Row started with private presentations for select top-tier editors. Now that we're several seasons in to both of those lines, seats at those shows have become some of the most coveted at each New York Fashion Week, and their collections regularly receive fantastic reviews. That’s not to say that these lines aren’t well-done and deserving — by and large, editors agree privately that they are — but the boundary between the people who got to go and the people who did not magnifies the sense of fantasy projected onto them by the great number of people on the outside. It really is quite a smart strategy. The buzz surrounding Holmes & Yang’s show on social media today could not be discounted in the clogged artery that real-time Fashion Week coverage has become. (Of particular note: Suri's Burn Book weighed in.) For once, the updates felt necessary because so few people would have the ability to provide them.

    Even 'Life and Style' wasn't invited and had to rely on a report from a "special guest."

    I was not among the chosen few who got to go to the Holmes & Yang show, but I was privy to a different kind of exclusivity at Dennis Basso yesterday. Basso is a furrier, and I return to his presentation season after season, drawn by the fascination with a company that unabashedly continues doing something more and more people find socially and morally unconscionable each year. (Slightly important to note here that a “presentation” refers to a style of fashion show in which the models stand around wearing the clothes being shown, instead of walking up and down a runway.)

    The shows we’re seeing now are the spring 2013 collections, meaning this is what we’ll see in stores next spring when we need warm-weather clothes. The question is, who needs fur in the spring? You can defend it by arguing that these things hit racks in February/March, when it is still cold, and besides, it’s always cold somewhere. And if anyone needs springtime fur for reasons other than warmth (for decoration, an indicator of wealth) it’s got to be the sorts of folks who can afford the St. Regis Hotel, where Basso held his show, which has crystal chandeliers in the elevators (along with mirrors basically everywhere, so you’re never without the opportunity to regard yourself and your fine things). The women who rode up with me didn’t have any fur on their persons, but they did have handbags that cost thousands of dollars. Quilted Chanel purses and Hermes Birkin bags are — like the ubiquitous crystal chandeliers and ornate engravings on every surface of this hotel — awkwardly commonplace. I began to fear my $130 bag would brush a Birkin and, like, give it a rash.

    When I stepped off the elevator the illusion of everything being shiny and fancy and exclusive was ruined by the sight of a model in an evening gown sitting in a chair with a crowd of around six people around her. A man said into a cell phone, “She’s awake now,” and another offered her something to eat. I imagined standing in her platform pumps — that could have been as high as six or seven inches — in the hot lights was too much for her after six busy days of doing shows and fittings and castings. Each season it seems like at least one model faints at a presentation. Basso's was only an hour, but some are two hours, which is a long time to stand under hot lights in one place.

    Inside the incredibly bright, ballroom-size presentation room, I spotted two women wearing full-sequin pants. It was 3 in the afternoon, mind you, an hour when full-sequin pants would seem about as necessary as a fur in the summer. But that was there too: I noticed one woman with a tan bit of it poking out of her Birkin bag. She wore her hair in a claw clip that was totally sparkly (real diamonds, for all I know). Another woman wearing all black had finished her look with a white fur vest. This is not, I imagine, a person who has to take the subway or be without air conditioner for an extended period of time — which a busy person doing things in New York in the summer usually can’t avoid without the money to take a hired car or cabs everywhere.


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    Proenza Schouler's Internet-inspired Fashion Week show consisted of dresses with photos of pool parties on them. How did they manage to make it look this good/cool?

    Designer Lazaro Hernandez told WWD the inspiration for these clothes was “the Internet, the images you’re bombarded with and the collage of information that you get every day." Our friend with the cat pajamas was wearing the WRONG mammal, that's for sure.

    Image by Peter Michael Dills / Getty Images

    And look at this! Pool party! GRASS!!

    And look at this! Pool party! GRASS!!

    It's like a desktop background meets, I don't know, what Vegas day clubbing would be like if it were actually glamorous!

    Image by Peter Michael Dills / Getty Images

    And here — faces plus foliage!

    And here — faces plus foliage!

    A dress that looks back at you.

    Image by Peter Michael Dills / Getty Images

    There's even a lowercase "e" on this one.

    There's even a lowercase "e" on this one.

    And it still looks great. Edgy red carpet celebs will definitely wear this face stuff. Kristen Stewart, surely.

    Image by Peter Michael Dills / Getty Images


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    Here are 17 that wound up on Twitter.

    First, the obvious "Fashion Week is sapping the cocaine supply" jokes:


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    But he says he wants to show his clothing line at Fashion Week next year, anyway.

    Lochte at a Fashion Week event in New York.

    Image by Jeff Schear / Getty Images

    The all-but-crowned prince of capitalizing on Fashion Week attention, who even put Kim Kardashian's front-row efforts to shame, is Ryan Lochte, who swam into our hearts at the Olympics just a few weeks before New York Fashion Week. He attended 17 events in the first three days of Fashion Week alone, so it was hardly a stretch for him to grace STK in midtown with his presence Wednesday night, where Us Weekly was honoring him as one of the 25 people they'd named the "Most Stylish New Yorkers." He walked the carpet outside and, as he walked from it into STK, was spotted by at least four women outside who I could hear fluttering their hands and saying "Ryan Lochte! Oh my God Ryan Lochte!" He walked inside surrounded by his entourage, which consisted of maybe eight people, and was escorted behind the bar to his booth on the upper level of the club. He established himself and his posse at a table across the room from a Real Housewife of Miami who my friend and I mistake for Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Adrienne Malouf with new plastic surgery.

    Girls in tight dresses and platform heels swarmed Lochte from all directions, and he obliged all of them with photos. I had to stand on a booth to find him, and managed to capture this scene of the room's estrogen- and alcohol-feueled madness:

    Rumors are going around that Lochte is having an affair or something with Miss USA, Olivia Culpo from Rhode Island, who won the pageant at the age of 20 a couple months ago. She scooted into his booth a few minutes after he arrived, and he took a break from lip-syncing along with the rap music to kiss her hand and look into her eyes. She wore a clingy white asymmetrical long-sleeved gown that pooled on the floor around her feet, and was very pretty in the way people who look like they spend all their time tanning, working out, and wearing makeup do.

    Once most of the women in the room have gotten camera phone pics of themselves with Lochte for their Facebook pages, I managed to sidle up next to him for a quick interview. I was not sure that there was anything worth asking him that he hadn't already been asked, given the dozens of Fashion Week things he's attended to promote himself and his fashion design aspirations, and the very little time these sorts of events allow reporters to ask probing questions (then again, a lot of reporters might not even want to bother). I got his attention by shouting "Ryan" since I was pretty sure that if I reached out and tapped him, one of the two angry-looking security guards nearby would have me thrown out. He turned around wearing his signature expression, that slightly furrowed brow, that makes him look as though he's constantly trying to figure something out. Having been to more fashion shows than some editors at this point, I wondered what Ryan had seen that he's really liked so far.

    "You know what, I’ve liked pretty much every show I’ve been to. I really looked at each one, from each designer, and I’m going to take a little piece of everything and put it into my own line," he replied over the siren-inflected rap music that he seems to be genuinely enjoying. And with that he made it clear the conversation would get right into Ryan Lochte Couture. Yet asked if there are any trends he's really liked, for men or women, he said: "No, because I want my line to be different from everyone elses’." So he's one of those "I don't follow trends" people. Like Alexa Chung, but with combed hair and sparklier diamond necklaces that he wears much more often.

    "I’ve talked to designers and they helped me out and gave me insight," he continued. "And you know what? I’m going to take it. And hopefully you’ll see my line next year at Fashion Week."

    If any of these designers told him anything specific about how to start a fashion line, he wasn't about to get into it, with all the tight dresses trying to weasel their way into the crook of his arm all around us. "They said it was going to take a lot of hard work," he explained. "But you know what? You’ve got to follow your dreams, you’ve gotta be yourself, you can’t be what everyone else tells you to be. You’ve got to stick to your focus of what you really want to make happen, so that’s what I’m doing."

    The closest we come to actually sort of bonding is when I say something like "Anna Wintour is amazing" (Ryan was on the cover of June's Vogue) and he agreed: "Oh my God, she IS amazing. I didn’t really get a chance to ask her about what tips did she have [for the line]. But just hanging out with her, and knowing what she’s done and everything, and just being with her, that means a lot." He added, "She’s so nice, she’s a sweetheart."

    Talking to Lochte, I get the sense that he's practiced this. That he knows what to say to be coherent enough to give reporters items they need to write about him. He's not tripping over his words the way he used to, yet for all his media grooming he isn't high and mighty enough not to talk to me, as Michael Phelps was at an event shortly after his Olympic wins four years ago. But he also doesn't seem that excited about everything happening around him, for him, either. He seems tired.

    Puzzled by Lochte — who lives in Florida and might wear Speedos more than anything — landing on a list of stylish New Yorkers, I wondered what made him a stylish New Yorker.

    "I'm not," he said.

    Not stylish or not a New Yorker?

    "I was born here, so I gotta give credit that I’m a New Yorker. But at the same time, I’m just new to this fashion world, I’m getting into it, but I know my style, I know what I want. I know what looks good on me and I know what I want to design." (Translation: kind of a New Yorker and new to being stylish?)

    Fashion can be a cruel business, so I asked if the industry had been accepting of him as a designer and clothing enthusiast.

    "I have no idea. That’s up to you guys."

    Well, if Sears designer Kim Kardashian is a star of one of Fashion Week's premiere front rows, I'm sure the fashion world won't have any trouble making a little room for him for at least a few more seasons.


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    I hate to think of what would happen on the playground to a little boy who showed up to school with tight blue pants or neon lettering on his back pocket.

    This is a recent update to Versace's Facebook page. Let's take a closer look at the clothes, why don't we!

    Source: sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net

    Source: sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net

    Source: sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net


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    It's turned us all into a bunch of self-promotional robots who are sapping the meaning from the word “style.” Maybe it's time to pull back from our tweets and our Instagrams and our pins and, you know — OURSELVES.

    The Ralph Lauren show.

    Image by Lucas Jackson / Reuters

    New York Fashion Week just ended — and it might have been the weirdest one yet thanks to social media. Of course social media has been a great way to get the masses fired up about fashion, give talented people who don't work at magazines a voice in the industry, and allow brands to market themselves in cool and interesting ways. But has it all become too much? Thanks to Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and Instagram and Pinterest (and probably some others I'm forgetting), the week was a mess of self-promotion, bad street style, and slightly shady endorsements — more so than ever before. Here's why it might be time to pull back from social media just a bit.

    1. Social media has made it impossible to just sit there and enjoy a fashion show.

    1. Social media has made it impossible to just sit there and enjoy a fashion show.

    The Jason Wu show.

    Image by The Associated Press / AP

    Everyone is seized with the desire to tweet everything going on as it happens. So instead of watching the clothes come down the runway, people in the audience spend the whole show staring at their phones. I can't remember the last time I went to a show and didn't worry about tweeting boring things about what was going on. Like, "Opening look at Betsey Johnson!!!" or whatever show it is. Meanwhile, everyone else is tweeting the exact same thing and I think a lot of us are doing it 1. so that we can announce to the world that we're there and have a good enough seat to get the photos of the outfits and 2. for shameless RTs from people who get really excited by fashion shows and lead us to more followers.

    But to the second point: I think tweeting clothes on the runway will slow eventually, because the race to post fashion show slideshows online before anyone else has gotten so intense that hugely stressed-out interns are regularly sent into the night to get a USB drive from a photographer, so it hardly takes any time for the images to hit the Internet anyway. Also, Style.com and NowFashion.com posted live from shows as they happened and they weren't crappy TwitPics or Instagrams! So really, we can all probably stop worrying about tweeting looks with no jokes or insight for shameless RTs, and go back to looking at the clothes IRL and thinking of things to say that are interesting/funny.


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    New York Fashion Week just ended. Let's take a look at some of the fashionable — if hard-to-understand — outfits from the runways.

    This jumpsuit.

    This jumpsuit.

    This collection is Marc Jacobs's riff on Edie Sedgwick, and was praised everywhere. Tim Blanks wrote for Style.com that "the monochrome, amphetamine-sharp brilliance of the designer's vision cut a precise swathe through all the uncertain murk that swirls around pop culture right now." Times critic Cathy Horyn called it "sexy" and noted that Jacobs "has enormous feeling for what is contemporary."

    So really, this jumpsuit is smart — The Look of critical acclaim.

    Image by Lucas Jackson / Reuters

    This studded dress with faces on it.

    This studded dress with faces on it.

    By Proenza Schouler. Try wearing it in the next Occupy Wall Street march and see how much you blend in despite your outfit being the dress version of wealth. (The brand's dresses easily retail for around $1,000.)

    Image by Peter Michael Dills / Getty Images

    This studded dress with a pool party on it.

    This studded dress with a pool party on it.

    These Proenza Schouler dresses are inspired by Tumblr.

    Image by Peter Michael Dills / Getty Images

    This punky glasses lanyard.

    This punky glasses lanyard.

    Cynthia Rowley experiments with grandma style, hat hair.

    Image by Cindy Ord / Getty Images


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    All the models wore Michael Jackson's costumes and were introduced by crazy Lady Gaga, one of milliner Philip Treacy's most vocal modern day champions. Here are highlights from Treacy's London Fashion Week show.

    Treacy hadn't put on a show at London Fashion Week for 13 years, and he returned to the runway spectacularly.

    Image by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

    Lady Gaga opened the show.

    Lady Gaga opened the show.

    She wore the famous "Armadillo" shoes by the late Alexander McQueen and a full-body cape of hot pink mesh.

    Image by Jonathan Short / AP

    Watch her intro in this video:

    She then took a seat in the audience wearing a headpiece by Treacy.

    She then took a seat in the audience wearing a headpiece by Treacy.

    Her clothes were by McQueen. McQueen and Treacy were friends and collaborators.

    Image by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images


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