“Truth be told, sister and maid of honor Pippa provided the only wow fashion moment. And I mean WOW, as in she completely upstaged the bride!” Tom Kolovos
Will you ever doubt me again? I dare you!
Yes, I said it. Yes, I said it first. Yes, I meant it. And yes, I’m here to represent it.
Just come back here for more astute fashion commentary and advice. Set a spell, Take your shoes off. Y’all come back now, y’hear?.
Tom Kolovos is Editor In Chief of aControlledSubstance.
Prince William: You look beautiful.
Eric Wilson: The gown was well received not merely because it was pretty — or flawless, actually. This was also a significant fashion moment because the design of the dress, the selection of its designer and even the secrecy that surrounded its preparation seemed remarkably well calculated to project a specific image about Miss Middleton. That is, she represents a new breed of the British monarchy, one that is respectful of its boundaries and traditions, but is not stuffy and off-putting to the general populace.
Hamish Bowles: I think it’s magnificent. Entirely lived up to and exceeds anyone’s expectations. It’s a traditional style, but it’s been tweaked in a nuanced way. It has great body and stiffness and architectural drama, but it’s very light and airy. … It’s perfect and highly sophisticated. A triumph.
Leila Rose: I think the dress is perfectly beautiful but somewhat uninspired. … Knowing it’s coming from Sarah Burton — and she is so enormously talented — I expected a little bit more of pushing the envelope.
Robin Givhan: In the end, the McQueen gown, designed by the house’s creative director, Sarah Burton, and hand-sewn by the atelier, did not change Western fashion as the world knows it. It did not alter everything that defines modern femininity. And it did not force a reassessment of what it means to be elegant, sophisticated or sexy. But it was a gasp-inducing, slightly sexy gown worn by a beaming bride. It put a giddy smile on the young prince’s face and caused him to seemingly murmur: You look fabulous. And really, what more can one expect or hope for a wedding dress to do?
Annabel Tollman: It’s McQueen doing royal wedding. It’s not runway. But can you imagine if it had [been]? It would not have been a great start. The fashion industry would love it, but…this is not the Grand Palais. It’s Royalty. You don’t really want her turning up in look 12.
Julia Panciroli: With McQueen designing, I was wondering if there would be feathers on it, or edgier materials and embellishment. Although I didn’t like the style of Princess Diana’s gown, it was more sensational than Kate’s.
Lily Samii: The gown was nice and clean, but I wanted it to have more style. It was blah; it didn’t wow me.
Mark Badgley: It’s the kind of gown that will stand the test of time. Not all gowns do. Any bride across the world will want to wear it. It’s got a touch of vintage, a classic 1950s ball gown, so timeless that her daughter would look gorgeous in this gown 30 years from now.
James Mischka: She’s not taking a lot of chances with this dress, but in the best possible way.
Hubert de Givenchy: It’s a lovely thought, a nice tribute[to McQueen].
Oscar de la Renta: She had a perfect dress, a very traditional dress for a very traditional wedding. What I liked about it was, it was not ostentatious. There was not 50 meters of train, and it was not overembroidered. It was just a very traditional dress for a ravishing girl who doesn’t need a lot.
Vera Wang: Diana’s dress had a sense of innocence, whimsy, almost storybook romance. In contrast Catherine’s gown was about way more than simply the dress. Sarah Burton channeled a new take on classicism for a modern-day bride who will one day be queen.
Tom Kolovos: A tasteful, understated and conservative dress may indeed serve as both economic and political spin. On a personal level for Catherine, a commoner, a reverential dress can signal that she intends to straddle the fine line of ascending to the ranks of royalty without betraying her commoner lineage. We have already heard how she intends to live with Prince William without the help of any staff and even do her own cooking and laundry. The savvy Duchess of Cambridge may share more than a couturier and a milliner with Lady Gaga. She may be humming to herself “don’t be a drag, just be a Queen,” just loud enough to drown out the noise of the spin cycle.
Karl Lagerfeld: The dress is classic and goes very well in the Westminster decor. It almost reminds me of (Queen) Elizabeth’s wedding, the royal weddings in the (19)50s. The proportion of the train is good. The lace is very pretty. I like the veil a lot.
No, not the wow moment that every network hack keeps telling me I really did experience. I happen to be watching ABC News with Tina Brown, Tim Gunn (now a professional fashion sycophant/ gay Stepin Fetchit lap dog for hire), Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters. So invested is ABC in the coverage of the wedding, so many on-air hours and television specials devoted to the hype, that one could hardly expect anyone present to tell the truth about the bride: she looks OK, and nothing more.
Truth be told, sister and maid of honor Pippa provided the only wow fashion moment. And I mean WOW, as in she completely upstaged the bride!
Princess Katherine’s dress is demure, tasteful, and reminds one of Grace Kelly’s. That, my dears, is polite chit chat for BORING. Chelsea Clinton–think about that–made for a much more beautiful bride. Did someone as vulgarly American as Ivanka Trump not look about the same in a modest dress for her conservative Jewish wedding? Katherine is a beautiful woman and would have looked good in a paper bag. This was a designer paper bag.
Perhaps you may not be able to fault the craftsmanship of the Alexander McQueen gown, but you can certainly fault the timidity of its vision. Speculation was that Sarah Burton, who now heads McQueen, was chosen because of the brand’s ability to balance well researched historical references with an exquisite theatrical aesthetic. For all the talk about what a great tribute this dress is to Mr. McQueen, he was a man known neither for his timidity in life nor especially in his designs.
See Ms. Burton’s most recent designs for the label and then look at this dress again and then you will understand my utter disappointment. Given the ability of the house to produce an intricate patterned bodice, the bodice of the dress is a pure waste of the McQueen aesthetic.
I cannot speak for him–unlike the ABC anchors and the demi monde of journalists/sycophants–but I will say that for me, all of this was much ado about nothing.
But nothing may just be the point. A tasteful, understated and arguably age inappropriate dress may indeed serve both an economic and political purpose. England is going through tough economic times and a too-lavish gown might give the impression that the monarchy is out of touch with the hardships facing everyone but it. (Prince Charles doesn’t put the toothpaste on his own toothbrush. That’s someone else’s taxpayer funded job.)
On a personal level for Catherine, a commoner–though from a “pull yourself up from your boot straps pushy/savvy/socially ambitious family”–a reverential, tasteful (and borderline matronly) dress can signal that she intends to straddle the fine line of ascending to the ranks of royalty without betraying her commoner lineage. We have already heard how she intends to live with Prince William without the help of any staff and even do her own cooking and laundry.
It wouldn’t take much imagination to hear the palace announce that she plans on reworking this wedding dress into a housecoat.
The Duchess of Cambridge, as she will be known–according to British protocol, she will not be able to formally call herself Princess Catherine because she was not born a princess–may share more than a milliner with Lady Gaga. She may be humming to herself “don’t be a drag, just be a Queen,” just loud enough to drown out the noise of the spin cycle.
Tom Kolovos is Editor In Chief of aControlledSubstance.
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.
One of the best designed items at any price for spring? Take the best of two outerwear icons—the motorcycle jacket and the trench coat— and you create this fresh must have hybrid jacket with neon orange zipper tape accent. If you can’t fully commit to wearing orange this spring and summer, this is a knockout! $168 at Jcrew.com
The Beauty of McQueen
See inside Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, courtesy of New York Magazine slideshow, an exhibition celebrating the extraordinary creations of the late fashion designer, set to open at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute May 2, 2011.
Not be missed by anyone serious about art.
To coincide with the museum opening, reports Page Six, “style queen [Daphne] Guinness and Barneys are collaborating on a six-week exhibition, “Fashion as Art,” where Guinness will conduct several performances — one of which will be the fashion muse prepping for the gala in full view of shoppers and passersby. The installation will also include items from Guinness’ wardrobe, including pieces acquired from style icon Isabella Blow, and a short documentary on Guinness.”
Not to be missed by anyone serious about public relations.