Archive for April 25th, 2011

April 25, 2011

The best men’s sport coat of spring 2011

It’s that Merv Griffin/Mike Douglass kind of vibe, in a good updated for the new millenium  kind of way.

Billy Reid “Jonathan” Sport Coat, $595, at Bloomingdale’s and

April 25, 2011

COLOR PRINCE: The Photography of Ernest Collins

A Chicago native, Ernest Collins was known as one of that city’s top hair-stylists and make-up artists. In 1983, Ernest ventured to Milan. There, he was well received, having the opportunity to work with photographers Tiziano Magni, Tom Wool, Jonathan Leonard, Sergio Caminata, Lionel Pasquon among others.

After years of working with some of fashion photography’s biggest names, Ernest decided that it was time to try his own hand at the craft. He knew that his biggest advantages were his sense of style, his growing reputation as a model-maker, his ability to grace models with a “look”, his own personal sense of direction, and ultimately the ability to  capture those elusive qualities through his lens–to photograph it all. Bold, strong saturated color is one of the hallmarks of Ernest’s photographs.

In 1990, he accepted an invitation to come to Paris and instantly fell in love with the city. He has been based there ever since. Ernest now resides between Paris and Chicago and is immersed in both cultures.

He has photographed ad campaigns for some of the biggest names in the world of beauty. His editorial work has graced the pages of Europe’s most cutting edge  magazines.

Meeting and working with Ernest Collins 5 years ago has been one of the true joys of my professional life. I am proud to welcome Ernest Collins to aControlledSubstance–Tom Kolovos

April 25, 2011

Yes, We Ann

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition. Henry V

I shall never forget it.

I shall never forget my very first photo shoot as a stylist. That’s how I met Ann Wallace. I shall never forget my second photo shoot. That’s how I met Michelle Obama.

My work with Mrs. Obama is already a matter of public record. I like to think I did my part to properly introduce Mrs. Obama to a wider audience. She certainly did (I’ll keep that conversation to myself).

Ever since our second meeting, I have always wanted to find a proper public forum to introduce Ann Wallace. And now I have it in this, the inaugural fashion shoot for aControlledSubstance.

It is in no way an accident that Ann is the first subject of this endeavor. The fashion shoots that I plan to produce for you on this site will not involve fashion models. You can see that anywhere.

I plan to honor the time you choose to spend on this site by introducing you to the sense of style–both in the sense of fashion and life– of people I think you need to know about. (You report to the site. I decide!)

So, back to Ann. I met her when she was the General Manager of Yves Saint Laurent in Chicago. I was given 5 days notice by Today’s Chicago Woman that I was to put together 8 looks for a photo shoot they had already planned with the four female meteorologists at the four major local stations. This was to run in the March issue.

It was the middle of February and they had no concept yet. With only 5 days to get the job done, I decided the easiest and most sensible thing to do was a rainwear theme, so out I ran like a chicken with my head cut off assembling 8 different raincoat stories for women whose sizes I didn’t even know until the 3rd day.

In my whirlwind travels around the city, I spotted the best trench at Yves Saint Laurent. They had only one. It was about a size 10 with a gorgeous rope belt, so I figured it would work perfectly on anyone because you could cinch it in such way that the belt would rightly be the whole story. I was determined to make it work, because, at the time YSL was still under the direction of Tom Ford and, it was the IT label.

I asked the salesperson who thought I was a customer if I could please talk to the GM. A few minutes later a very striking blonde woman dressed in all black appeared and introduced herself as Ann. Was there something she could do for me?

I fawned over the trench in earnest , I explained my predicament in no uncertain terms and then I held my breath, fully expecting her to say no.

“When would you like to pick it up,” she asked smiling?

I remember she was smiling because when Ann Wallace smiles, she makes me weak in the knees.

I didn’t have an exact answer. Would sometime in the next few days be ok?

I left the store and went back to the TCW offices. By then, the managing editor had firmed up the women’s sizes and their participation in the concept.

The next day was spent pulling looks and pulling strings and pulling everything, with the exception of one thing, completely together.

I could not find a piece of jewelry I deemed worthy of the YSL trench and the Jil Sander bias cut trapeze dress that was to go under it. So when I walked back into YSL to take the coat, all stressy as only I can get, I just blurted out to Ann, now of course wearing another magnificent all black outfit,  something like what a shame I couldn’t find a necklace just like the one she was wearing to use with the coat.

Without saying a word, she raised her arms, reached behind her neck, unfastened the necklace, handed it to me and then finally spoke: “Here, take it.  Just bring it back when you bring back the coat.”

She gave me, a complete stranger, the proverbial shirt off her own back. It was a kindness surpassed only by her reaction a few weeks later upon seeing the issue in print. Though the concept was hurried and much too cheekily photographed for my taste, Ann said to me “I see what you were trying to do. You’re a real artist.”

This story may seem a little self serving, right about now, but I assure you it is not.

What I couldn’t possibly have known at the time, as a 41 year old man who had never harbored any intention of doing anything like this is that respect, especially respect by women  fashion executives towards male stylists, is very difficult to come by.

I could tell you some stories that would curl your hair. But I won’t. For now.

What I  will tell you is that retail is perhaps the only business where female executives serve just under the very top of the male executives who run the industry as a whole. It is perhaps the only business where women get to treat men like, well, men treat(ed) women in the business world.

And in retail, an industry full of gay men who do everything from makeup to window displays, to selling women’s clothing for a living, you might just be shocked from the outside looking in–as I was when I started–what demeaning assumptions can be made about you.

I call this part of my (his)tory “the fag that brought the clothes.”

I’ve fought the good fight to change that perception, at least as it applies to me. That’s a story I  may tell you on another day.

What I will tell you today is this. This is Ann Wallace.

Tom Kolovos is Editor In Chief of aControlledSubstance. Ann Wallace is currently the General Manger of Escada, Chicago. She is styled by Tom, photographed by Ernest Collins and is wearing Escada Spring/Summer  2011 and her own jewelry.

April 25, 2011

I Ain’t Hiding (The Black Crowes, 2009)

aCS Blog: Confessions of a Trophy DadKevin Rudge

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Tuesday, August 4, 2009.

“I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.” ~ Otto Van Bismarck, Prussian German Statesman (1815-1898)

Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, something changed, making my 3-year-old little girl embarrassed or at least flustered by my nakedness — or, more accurately, by the prospect of my nakedness.

It’s not like I parade around the house unclothed. My nudity is strictly confined to the bathroom and bedroom — and even there, I try to maintain a discreet level of modesty when in the presence of one of my daughters: a strategically held towel here, a slight turn of the body there. But as a parent, especially a stay-at-home parent, nudity happens.

Lucy is okay with nudity, generally speaking — actually, I think she prefers her birthday suit to any other outfit or costume, dress-up or otherwise. However, she apparently doesn’t like me wearing mine — at least not within eyeshot.

I learned this one afternoon upon returning from a run while visiting my brother and his family in Upstate New York. It was there that Lucy found herself alone in a room with me as I began to change. This was nothing out of the ordinary; I had changed in front of my youngest daughter many times without incident.

Sure, I heard the occasional “Eeeww” — come on, who hasn’t at one time or another? Or “Daaaadd,” said as if my penis was some kind of overused sight gag. Akin to how someone might for a cheap laugh put on Groucho glasses, to her it was like I had this silly little private area thingy I liked to do — pretty funny the first time, but not so much anymore.

As I readied to change out of my running shorts, speaking unusually slow and deliberate, Lucy looked me straight in the crotch and said, “Dad, are you going to change?”

“Yes,” I said.

Sensing there was more on her little mind, I temporarily suspended the removal of my shorts. Motionless and in a trance-like gaze, Lucy continued to stare at my private area. Still speaking in slow-motion she asked, “Do you want me to leave?”

“No,” I answered. Although, I must admit, her zombie-like fixation was beginning to make me a tad bit uneasy.

She stood frozen next to the bedroom door. It was as if my groin area, unbeknownst to me, had some kind of hypnotic power. Seconds passed before her need to clear her throat seemingly broke the spell. “I’m gonna leave now!” she blurted.

Lucy hastily opened the door and scurried out, slamming the door as she escaped into the hallway. I can’t be sure, but I think I heard a low pitched scream as she fled down the stairs — away from the room of naked horrors.

What the hell? My dadhood has been the recipient of my children’s indiscreet ogling before — the duration of which only a toddler or unabashed pervert could getaway with. Awkward, but easily attributable to innocent curiosity or, in the case of the pervert in the park wearing the trench coat, mental illness. But this change in attitude seemed so sudden.

With the passing of time, I’ve come to realize that Lucy’s seemingly sudden awareness is likely just an early sign of my littlest one growing up. Not so much innocence lost, but maturity gained. It’s only natural you know . . .

Anyone got a fig leaf?

“I was born modest; not all over, but in spots.” ~ Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

Kevin Rudge is a stay-at-home dad of three girls and practicing trophy husband.  He lives and writes from his home in suburban Chicago.  More of his humorous observations and confessions can be found at