Designer Alexander McQueen at London Fashion Week in 1997.
Season: 9 Episode: 58
Title: London Edition
Original Airdate: 4/1/97
Appearances: Antonio Berardi, Hussein Chalayan, Clements Ribeiro, Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Cindy Crawford
DEMYSTIFYING THE FASHION INDUSTRY: BRITISH DESIGNERS
British designers are super complicated and cerebral. Case in point: When we talk to Antonio Berardi and he informs us that his collection is about “voodoo and the Gunpowder plot.” Sold! But also, what?
In this rapid-fire tour through the greatest designing minds showing at London, we have the privilege of talking to Hussein Chalayan (later to be the designer of the Lady Gaga Grammys egg) about his Fall/Winter 1997 collection, inspired by seeing the weather as “some kind of god.” It translates into cobwebby, floor-skimming dresses with exaggeratedly long sleeves and turtlenecks. There are also impeccably-cut fluid capes of varying length.
Clements Ribeiro shows leather dresses as well as an interesting maxi seersucker effect on some trousers (the vertical, wrinkly line bits are magnified). Vivienne Westwood shows structured, ladylike suits, plaids, strong shoulders and canny layers for her Red Label. She, of course, also offers up the best quotes. “I love to have these girls looking like little ladies ready to enter the world,” she says. “Instead of wasting their time jumping around in sloppy, horrible clothes.”
Workers for Freedom, the now defunct brand created by partners Richard Nott and Graham Fraser, showed a brilliant line that called attention to tonal dressing in North Africa, and tailored silhouettes with tie closures for a fluid wraparound look that was SO NOT British and so quietly exciting. There’s Owen Gaster with characteristically English suiting, pencil skirts, precision tailoring and box pleats.
And then we have a quick interview with Alexander McQueen about his “It’s A Jungle Out There” collection. We’re shown live footage of the pony skin jacket with impala horns that was featured in his posthumous Savage Beauty exhibit at The Met and beautiful pelts fashioned into Flintstonian smocks. There’s enormous hair teased into wild manes, fur burnout brocade that makes my brain bleed to consider the labor, catsuits that move with surreal tensile fluidity and floor-length pony dresses that a Dothraki queen would give her and her blood riders’ eyeteeth for. “It’s about humans being savages,” says McQueen. “The cavemen; this is how they clothed themselves. They didn’t have a sewing machine in a hundred million years B.C. I do these things for a reason. I don’t do it because of some blasé fashion thing.”
+ WATCH ’97 BRITISH FALL FASHION WEEK
DEMYSTIFYING THE FASHION INDUSTRY: GALLIANO FOR DIOR
Cindy Crawford interviews Christian Dior designer John Galliano in 1997.
While we’re at London fashion week, Cindy’s in Paris with the designer John Galliano to interview him as the head of the House of Dior. The designer talks about Christian Dior (the inventor of the New Look), in hallowed terms and says he sees Dior as “God.” Dior used to show 200 outfits at his atelier, with some collections taking over two hours to run through. Galliano may not be as prolific, but he did bring tremendous success to both his line and to Dior during most of his tenure. It’s interesting to see Galliano’s incredible technique evolve as it melds with the most notable influences of the esteemed fashion house. Galliano brings his love of the bias cut to Dior, but this time all the slipperiness is anchored by foundation garments. The effect is palpably different — a little more serious. We accompany Cindy to her fitting and the segment ends too quickly. I could watch an hour of Galliano in his heyday and it makes me terribly sad to think about what’s become of him since.
+ WATCH CINDY CRAWFORD INTERVIEW JOHN GALLIANO
POP CULTURE AND FASHION: VOYAGE, THE MOST EXCLUSIVE STORE IN ENGLAND
Daisy Fuentes and model Karen Mulder visit Voyage boutique in London with owners Tiziano and Louise Mazzilli in 1997.
Opened in London by husband and wife Tiziano and Louise Mazzilli in 1991, Voyage gained notoriety for its expensive clothing (a silk dress was about $1,000 with coats costing about $2,500), and for turning away customers like Madonna, Julia Roberts and Naomi Campbell. The collection was only offered in one size, no fashion designers were ever allowed in and customers were permitted entry on an invitation-only basis. In 1996, it was reported that the Mazzillis had made over $10 million in sales, but by 2002, Voyage was about 3 Million GBP in debt. The store is now shuttered, and the couple have since divorced. According to fashion insiders, the company was spending wildly, as evidenced by full-page ads, taken out in prominent magazines, that featured members of their family. There’s a great one in the Daily Mail with their kids Tatum and Rocky posing in front of a Union Jack dressed like raver pirates. They’re also referred to as British fashion’s “Addams Family.” “The whole ad campaign was so self-indulgent,” says a source, “with the family striking these creepy poses.” It seems they don’t advertise to create business, they advertise through pure vanity. They’re essentially the original Kardashians, but with one key difference: They’re actually incredible designers.
(Warning: medium-sized tangent ahead so feel free to stray.) I can’t help it, I think this family is amazing. There’s a pretty recent wardrobe visit with Tiziano on StyleLikeU, where he shows us his Savile Row vests, bedazzled Puma Clydes (that he mistakenly calls Nikes), a skull Lego Jesus piece, a massive, plastic engagement ring bracelet (because he’s “engaged with himself”), and an exquisite metallic python moto jacket that looks like chainmail. Tatum and Rocky, his daughter and his son (respectively), have grown up to become designers as well. Tatum has a laser-cut acrylic jewelry line called Funky Bling; Rocky, who has long green hair and wears a grip of tribal face paint and lipstick, has a line called Year Zero. It is beloved by Nicki Minaj and 2NE1. Rocky designs it with his mother, who now has bright yellow hair, a shorn portion of which is dyed to resemble animal print. All four wear heaps of plastic jewelry, making them look like an 8bit MDMA fever dream.
(Note: Tangent over.) Voyage was masterful. Granted, the offerings were outrageously expensive and the family’s eccentricities were a bit much, but in this segment you can’t deny that a dress Daisy Fuentes (our new host for a couple of episodes) and Karen Mulder can both try on is nothing short of magical. If you looked at the recent video of Tiziano and Louise, you’ll be shocked at how they look in this segment. They both look so normal. Tiziano is wearing silk pajamas (very S/S 2012) and Louise has politician-lady hair. I can’t accurately speak on what their collection looked like in later years, but in 1997 this couple knew how to whip up a tissue-thin dress that looks divine and plays opaque against skin. There’s one dress that Karen calls a work of art. It looks as if a lightning bolt and a rainbow shining off an oil slick made a baby. It’s unbelievable. But the best part of this footage is that there’s something so down-to-earth and unpolished about Daisy that she doesn’t give a crap about pricetags when she grabs whatever she feels like trying on. You can feel the Mazzillis’ side eye and it buuuuuuurns.
+ WATCH KAREN MULDER AT VOYAGE
STREET STYLE: LONDON
London band Everything But The Girl in 1997.
According to everyone we talk to in London, and interviews with Goldie and Bjork as well as Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn from Everything But The Girl, all British young persons are wearing vintage clothing. There are secondhand blazers, tattered faux fur coats inherited from moms, plaid pants, old-school anoraks and studded leather jackets. As for footwear, it’s pretty much the same over there as it was here—adidas, Pumas, creepers and Dr Martens. There’s a bit of good-natured ribbing as to who’s got better style, Brits or Americans, but it’s actually hilarious to see that kids in London and kids in New York are all too broke to buy flashy new duds, and are dyeing their own hair for a quick makeover because the rent is too damn high on both sides of the pond.
+ WATCH LONDON STREET STYLE