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Redefining couture

‘Couture de force’ is what I’ve been seeing in magazines lately with regard to Dolce & Gabbana ads. I loved watching style on Elsa Klensch style on TV growing up, and in the many fashion magazines at my disposition when I came to NY : Marie Claire, Elle, Vogue were my preferred, as they tend to be less ‘ditzy’ than Cosmo, which offers advice on sex, how to keep a man and little else. I remember poring into French couture magazines when I lived in Paris, because I lived with Marine, a costumiere, who made marvelous dresses for theatre, and whose addiction was her “trouvailles” on the Parisian streets of the 9th arrondissement. Her last trouvaille was always the last trouvaille. But she couldn’t stop perhaps because her trouvailles were fascinating prospects which she saw tout de suite. Once, she found bales and bales of red, rich, heavy, velvet curtains reminiscent of sindoor red in hindu marriages, and turned them into Toulouse Lautrec’s rich vibrant red dresses for actresses in a play. And she found fallen chairs and other broken or imperfect knick knacks which she magically re made into art with colors and shapes which matched her equally colorful paintings she herself did, cigarette in one hand, and her painting brushes in the other. Stacks of Vogue tiled her atelier’s floor, next to her sewing machines, spools of colorful thread though on the darker side, and other sewing accoutrements. There was hardly space for walking. Her  velvety atelier became my space in the off-moments when I needed some respite from Chrétien de Troyes, Balzac, Stendhal et co. It gave me perhaps a sense of familiarity and home, the colors I grew up with in real life and Bollywood films. Once, Marine made me a mid calf moss-green velvet Yohji Yamamoto style skirt which I would wear with combat boots and a leather motorcycle jacket. I loved her creations! I sat and watched her take perfect curtains that someone discarded on the streets, and turn into pure wearable art, for me, and her actresses.

Years have passed since that time, and my eye for seeing couture the same way died because they tired of everyone looking the same whether white, black or brown models. Same hair, same makeup, same styles, same stilted, un-wearable clothes, colorful or colorless dresses, same everything, nothing different, and quite boring.

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But, lately, Dolce & Gabbana has been rekindling my eye. Their ads have been boasting familiar colors and material on women and men of all ages. Masterful, vibrant colors that just force my gaze upon their ads. D & G aren’t the only designers to take fashion into an east / west marriage; there have been a few, but these have always outfitted young, waif-like models who all looked one like the other:

est ouest 1 est ouest 2 est ouest 3

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D & G seem to be the only ones with a flair to marry east and west attire on women of varying ages especially using textures and colors. Or perhaps they’re the only designer whom I’ve noticed in the magazines which I have. The images I am seeing or noticing look part old Parisian couture meets best Exotic Marigold Hotel meets Hundred Foot Journey meets Flamenco Seville or Granada meets Bollywood India or Trinidad. With simulated natural people, real ages, reality. Even if they’re posing for the camera.

d&g old italian women d&G old men   d&G

Lately, I quite like to scour the magazines again, not as a fashionista, but as a mere passionista mostly to see style and color on fashion’s “Other”: I love to see the camera shooting beauty that Hollywood and Paris etc have sent to the marigold 1 marigold 2Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.


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