Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: Designers

New swimsuits for summer 2012

Black swimsuitThere will be plenty of tiny bikinis near the water this summer, but some of the season's swimsuit trends can be worn by the merely mortal. Yes, there are suits that flatter the less-than-perfect body and look stylish at the same time.

Among the top styles: the crocheted look, which is popping up in suits at all price ranges and in cover-ups as well. Seems as though the haute hippie wants to take her look to the beach as well as the clubs.

What else might a swimsuit shopper encounter? Cutouts. Bold prints. Asymmetrical silhouettes. And a retro, high-waisted look (think Bettie Paige posing in all her 1950s glamour).

Jenn Harris surveys the swimwear landscape in Sunday's Image section.

Gentlemen, there are new trends in bathing suits for you as well. Think slimmer fit, bold colors and wild prints. Think fabric imprinted with classic photos. Think trunks that can be worn as shorts at the pool party. Just don't forget to take your phone out of your pocket before you jump in the pool.

-- Alice Short


A new wave of L.A. swimwear designers

Frugal fashion: Jessica Alba summer-ready in a maxi

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times

Fall TV season offers some real-world fashion potential

Playboy Club 
If you like the swinging '60s style of "Mad Men," get ready for a fall TV season that promises an array of stylishly clad characters. For nostalgia, start with the stews of "Pan Am," move on to the "Playboy Club" and then check out the new "Charlie's Angels." Or ponder the well-dressed guy versus the slob in "How to Be a Gentlemen." Or the Trustafarian and her buddy in "2 Broke Girls."

Booth Moore takes a spin through some of the small screen's new fall offerings and details the challenges and real-world fashion potential of the new shows.

And speaking of Pan Am, stylistas of a certain age might remember the look of uniforms and accessories carried by the folks who worked at the now-defunct Pan American World Airways. Adam Tschorn takes a look at the company that's now licensing some of the fare associated with folks who flew the friendly skies. (So don't be surprised if you see a few sexy stewardesses at Halloween.)


Nike offers up Marty McFly's 'Back to the Future' shoes

Cedric the Entertainer throws his hat in the ring with Who Ced?

QVC to open studio at L.A. Live

-- Alice Short 

From left, Amber Heard, Naturi Naughton and Leah Renee in "The Playboy Club." Photo by Matt Dinerstein/NBC

Frugal Fashion: Adele is a classic hit at the 2011 MTV VMAs

AdeleThis year's MTV Video Music Awards show was full of fashion surprises and tragic faux pas. Viewers were treated to Lady Gaga's male alter-ego "Joe" in a Brooks Brothers ensemble, Katy Perry in a Geisha-inspired Versace dress and Nicki Minaj sporting pink and yellow hair, a metallic body suit, leg warmers and fuzzy slippers. Our fashion critic Booth Moore described it best when she wrote "Nicki Minaj looked like a costume shop exploded all over her."

PHOTOS: MTV VMA fashion photo gallery

Rising far above the pack of outlandishly dressed video vixens of the night were those dressed in classic styles such as mom-to-be Beyonce Knowles in Lanvin and British songstress Adele. The multi-platinum recording artist performed her new single "Someone Like You, in a black scalloped dress by Barbara Tfank and a side ponytail.

Before her big wins, including MTV "moon men" trophies for art direction, cinematography and editing for her "Rolling in the Deep" video, Adele made quite an entrance in the perfect little black dress. She wore a three-quarter sleeve frock with tribal neck embellishment by Burberry, stockings and black velvet shoes with orange piping. The fitted waist and length of the dress hugged her curves beautifully, and  the blown-out hair is '50s glam.

For a similar plus-size little black dress, try the Sweetheart knit wrap dress for $98 from, which features a flattering deep v and fitted waist. For a dress with a little sparkle and neck detail like Adele's, get the Joan Vass beaded knit dress with square stone and glass bead neck embellishment from for $94, also available in plus sizes.


Adele's look could work with any number of shoes you might already own. Try solid-colored pumps such as the S by Jessica Kipperx platform pump for $69.95 from, or for shoes with a colored trim go for the  Bordello by Pleaser Women's Tempt-40 pump with gold piping for $79.95 from

Happy shopping!

Have an outfit you're dying to buy but need a frugal alternative? Email us a picture. We're up for the challenge.

-- Jenn Harris


MTV VMAs: Fashion, boys rule

Frugal Fashion: Catwoman Anne Hathaway on the 'Today' show

Frugal Fashion: Diane Kruger at the InStyle Summer Soiree

Photo: Adele arrives at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards Sunday at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Credit: Frederic J. Brown /AFP/Getty Images.

Dress photos from left: Sweetheart knit wrap dress. Credit:; Joan Vass beaded knit dress. Credit:

Shoe photos from left: S by Jessica Kipperx platform pump; Credit:; Bordello by Pleaser Women's Tempt-40 pump; Credit:

Chanel 'Sleeping With the Enemy' book -- the speed read

Hal Vaughan

I'm working on a review of "Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War," and I just finished a speed read of the book, written by Hal Vaughan, a veteran U.S. journalist who served during World War II and has written several history books.

My review is slated to run sometime next week, but my first impression is that the book is only somewhat revealing. What we do know, and did know before this book was published, is that Coco Chanel remained in Paris living at the Hotel Ritz during the German occupation of France in World War II, that she had a long affair with a German officer and that she appeared to be friendly with Nazi officials. Citing newly declassifed documents, the book suggests she was not merely a passive collaborator but actually an agent of the Abwehr German intelligence agency, with her own code name --Westminster -- who conducted secret missions overseas.

Unlike many collaborators in France, who were imprisoned or executed after the war, Chanel denied any wrongdoing when questioned in court and escaped unscathed. But even in light of Vaughan's new information (and he includes in the book a copy of the police document identifying Chanel as an agent), it's still not entirely clear what her motivations would have been.

Chanel had a nephew who was in a German prison camp, so it could have been (I"m giving her the benefit of the doubt here) that she cooperated to the extent that she had to in order to secure his release and ensure her comfort through the war. It seems more likely that she was indifferent to the horrors being waged around her and unwilling to give up her pampered life (she had servants and a driver, even as the rest of France was starving), but that she may not have been anti-Semitic. After all, Chanel did go into business with the Jewish Wertheimer family before the war, and that family still owns the company today. And Vaughan has not uncovered any particularly damning statements she made about Jews.

It's been interesting to see the reaction to the book, specifically in the context of the psychology of branding. (Chanel issued a response, which my colleague Susan Denley wrote about last week, defending its founder.) Do the politics or ideology of a corporate figurehead really matter to consumers? It certainly seemed so when it came to designer John Galliano, who was dismissed from Christian Dior after making anti-Semitic remarks in a Paris bar last year. Then again, he was caught on camera, Chanel was not.

-- Booth Moore


Coco Chanel: Fashion house says Coco not a Nazi

In fashion, the brand plays on

Why are our nails this color? Ask Chanel's Peter Philips

Photo: American historian Hal Vaughan poses in Paris on Aug. 17 to present his book "Sleeping With the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret Wars." Credit: Francois Mori / Associated Press

Coco Chanel: Fashion house says Coco not a Nazi

Coco Chanel

Chanel has come to the defense of founder Coco Chanel, who is accused in a new book of being a Nazi spy.

"She would hardly have ... counted Jewish people among her close friends and professional partners such as the Rothschild family, the photographer Irving Penn or the well-known French writer Joseph Kessel had these really been her views," a Chanel spokesman told British Vogue in reaction to "Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War," by Hal Vaughan.

"We also know that she and [Winston] Churchill were close friends for a long time. She apparently approached him about acting as an intermediary between the Allies and the Germans for a peace settlement known as Operation Modelhut...More than 57 books have been written about Gabrielle Chanel. To decide for yourself, we would encourage you to consult some of the more serious ones." 

And indeed there have been numerous books, films and television dramas about the creative, convention-defying woman who remains fascinating 40 years after her death. 

-- Susan Denley

Photo: Coco Chanel, pictured in the 1920s. Credit: Roger-Viollet / TopFoto


In fashion, the brand plays on

New book claims Coco Chanel was a Nazi spy

Fashion News: Dress like Kim Kardashian or Jennifer Lopez


Fashion News: Kate Moss, John Galliano and a lovely gown

Jamie Hince and Kate Moss 
Kate Moss' recent wedding makes up a spread in Vogue's September issue, which includes details about how her beautiful gown came to be. Her inspiration was the Great Gatsby, her designer (as we know) John Galliano. The two discussed ideas over the phone, then met  with "bags full of bits, and pulled tulle and sequins and veils and flowers out," Moss said. "And then we just kind of pinned things together, like the old days, you know?" [Vogue]

Meanwhile, Galliano calls designing the dress "creative rehab," after his firing by Dior in the midst of a scandal over allegations that he made anti-Semitic comments. [Vogue]

London label Issa -- a favorite of the Duchess of Cambridge -- is looking for someone to design a new print for its upcoming collection, a new model for the runway, and an intern. Those who have what it takes can apply at, a website launched to help newcomers get into the fashion business. [Telegraph]

Speaking of the Duchess -- as if she weren't thin enough (and photos of her seem to always send commenters into spasms of concern over whether she has an eating disorder) -- the magazine Grazia admits to photoshopping her waist to waspish proportions on its May 9 cover shot of her walk down the aisle. [The Cut]

Chanel is issuing a new version of the classic 1970s scent No. 19. Originally named in honor of Coco Chanel's Aug. 19 birthday, the new Chanel No. 19 Poudre retains the lightness of the original while adding crisp green notes and iris. [Racked] 

Accessories maker Botkier reportedly intends to send Sears a cease-and-desist letter contending that a handbag in the new Kardashian Kollection that debuted this week is a rip-off of the Trigger Clyde bag from Botkier's 2009 collection. [Fashionista]


Kate Moss marries Jamie Hince

Lady Gaga, Rihanna help sell Vogue

Dressing Southern belles, maids for "The Help"

-- Susan Denley

Photo: Jamie Hince and Kate Moss on their wedding day, with Moss' daughter Lila. Credit: Jonathan Short / Associated Press

Designer Nicholas Kirkwood talks extreme shoes

Nicholas Kirkwood Nicholas Kirkwood is one of a new generation of young shoe designers --   including Brian Atwood, Alexandre Birman, Charlotte Dellal and Rupert Sanderson -- who are trying to give Christian Louboutin a run for his money.

You may know Kirkwood's name from his more extreme runway creations designed for L.A.-based label Rodarte. (Bandage thigh-high boots, sandals with heels made to look like melted candle wax, and wood wedges inspired by Chinese woodcarvings are among the most memorable.) And although he's not collaborating with Rodarte for the spring 2012 runway season beginning next month, he is working on runway styles for Manish Aurora's first collection for Paco Rabanne, as well as for Erdem.

Kirkwood, who is based in London, is also taking time to focus more on his own brand, characterized by fierce styles with a kinetic look. He opened his first boutique in London in May. New York is to follow this fall, Los Angeles soon after. Kirkwood was in L.A. recently, scouting for a location. "I would really like to start spending more time here," he said, sipping an iced tea poolside at the Sunset Tower Hotel.

Nicholas Kirkwood Kirkwood, 31, launched his namesake brand six years ago, and has since earned a bevy of famous fans, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyonce and Rihanna. He isn't inspired in the traditional fashion-designer sense by a place or person. Instead, he's more of an architect of shoes. "Usually, it's about finding an interesting organic shape, or just playing around and doodling," he explained, pointing to a look-book photo of a new stiletto with a slight curve at the bottom. "That one was really about negative space and playing off the line of the platform."  

He trained at Central Saint Martins. After graduation in 2005, he found work with milliner Philip Treacy. It was there that he noticed a void in the market for truly artistic shoes. "There were really exciting things going on in ready-to-wear with Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan, and with hats too," he said of the London fashion scene at the time. "But the shoes were from a different decade." 

Nicholas Kirkwood That was about to change. In the last six years, shoes have gotten more and more extreme, with designers trying to outdo each other with death-defying platforms and sky-high prices to match. Kirkwood says that he has seen no price resistance in the shoe market, no limit to what women will pay. He once sold a pair of crocodile boots for $12,000.

Nicholas Kirkwood But what about comfort? I remember years ago when I interviewed Louboutin, he said he didn't care about comfort. Kirkwood is only slightly more interested. And yet, he knows that lower heel heights are key to growing his business. "I'm trying to find a range between things that are sexy and things that are more 'momsy,'" he said.

For fall, he's introducing his lowest heel yet, a 70-millimeter, and even a few flat kiltie loafers in bright colors. (The 70-millimeter slingback platform pumps come in at $595.)

Still, there's a limit to how far he will go. "Ballerinas," he said, "would be the ultimate sellout."

-- Booth Moore


Currently Coveting: Smoking slippers

Your stylist: Loafers are fall's hot shoe

Liwan sandals, a jet-set favorite, launch in the U.S.

Photos: Shoes from Nicholas Kirkwood's fall 2011 collection, available at Nordstrom, Saks and Neiman Marcus stores. Credit: Nicholas Kirkwood

Fashion News: Vera Wang designs Kim Kardashian's wedding gown

Kris Humphries, left, with fiance Kim Kardashian -- Vera Wang is designing Kim Kardashian's wedding gown. “Vera has been a close family friend for a long time and we had talked about this moment for years,” Kardashian wrote on her blog Monday. Her wedding to basketball player Kris Humphries is planned for Aug. 20. Wang also designed the gown for Kim's sister Khloe when she wed the Lakers' Lamar Odom. [People]

-- Cast members of "Glee" will reportedly make appearances in L.A. and New York Sept. 8 as part of Fashion's Night Out, the shopping and fashion spectacular launched by Vogue a few years back to stimulate industry sales. [New York Post]

-- Nicola Formichetti, the designer behind many of Lady Gaga's memorable looks and creative director for Mugler, plans to launch his own line, with a sneak preview in a pop-up shop during New York Fashion Week in September. [Telegraph]

-- Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen launched a redesigned website on Monday. It includes behind-the-scenes features and improved shopping. [WWD]

-- Rihanna got in the spirit Monday, wearing a red and gold bikini costume and feathered headdress in a festive Kadooment Day parade in her native Barbados. [People]

-- Ralph Toledano, former chairman and chief executive officer of Chloé International, has been named chairman of the board at St. John, the Irvine, Calif.-based maker of classic knitwear for women. The brand has struggled to appeal to younger buyers, in recent years trying a parade of celebrities in its advertising, including Gisele Bundchen, Angelina Jolie and Karen Elson. [WWD] (subscription required)  

-- Kelly Rowland is the face of Empress, a new women's scent from P.Diddy. [The Cut]

--Susan Denley

Photo: Kim Kardashian, right, with fiance Kris Humphries says Vera Wang is designing her wedding gown. Credit: Mark Thompson / Getty Images


Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries' wedding registry

For celebrities, the sweet, flowery or fruity smell of success

Helen Mirren, David Beckham are 'Bodies of the Year'

Fashion News: McQueen remembers his dogs; Coddington memoir a go

Alexander McQueen Cutting-edge fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who committed suicide in February 2010, left the equivalent of about $82,000 at current exhange rates in trust for his dogs Minter, Juice and Callum to ensure they'd be looked after for the rest of their lives. He left the same amount to each of the two housekeepers who looked after him, as well as bequeaths to several family members. But the bulk of his $26.2-million fortune went to various charities, several of them geared to animal welfare. [Telegraph]

American Apparel plans to launch an e-commerce shop on Ebay in September in an effort to venture beyond its own stores. [WWD] (Subscription required.)

Speaking of e-commerce, on Tuesday launched into beta testing of a site designed to change the way consumers shop online. The new search engine allows the user to drag a photograph of an outfit -- say on a celebrity or model -- into a box, click the mouse and the search engine will track down similar components to come up with pieces to put together your own outfit. [WWD]  

Grace CoddingtonVogue creative director Grace Coddington, who upstaged editor Anna Wintour in the documentary "The September Issue," has reportedly sold her memoir to Random House for a rumored $1.2 million. [New York Obsever]

Joe Jonas got to keep the Givenchy jacket and Margiela sneaks he modeled on Mr. Porter, Net-a-Porter's brother e-commerce site for men. [The Cut]

Los Angeles fashion designer Trina Turk is expanding her line and will offer dresses for this coming holiday season. [WWD] (Subscription required.)

-- Susan Denley

Photos, from top: Alexander McQueen, the cutting-edge designer who committed suicide in 2010. (Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times); Vogue creative director Grace Coddington at this year's Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards (Larry Busacca / Getty Images)


Fashion Diary: The September Issue

Alexander McQueen dies at 40

Fashion News: Ricky and Nicki for MAC

Nicole Miller and Vivienne Westwood have designs on Africa

When First Lady fashion plate Michelle Obama visited South Africa in June, she nodded to the region's rich textile tradition by wearing a colorful print top from the ASOS Africa fair-trade line. And I've been obsessed with finding African print clothing ever since. 

Nicole As it turns out, ASOS is not the only one dabbling in fair-trade fashion. Nicole Miller recently debuted a selection of brightly colored sarongs, shorts and bangle bracelets in five African prints, as part of a partnership with Indego Africa, a social enterprise that employs more than 250 women in Rwanda. The styles are available online, with 15% of proceeds donated to the organization.

Vivienne Westwood joined forces with the United Nations International Trade Center to debut her Ethical Fashion Collection for

The Nairobi, Kenya-based center employs disadvantaged women, who make the wildly patterned bags for Westwood using recycled materials. Westwood

When the flame-haired designer visited the center this year, she took photographer Juergen Teller with her to capture the project.  "It's quite incredible to think we might be able to save the world through fashion," Westwood said in a statement.


-- Booth Moore


Vivienne Westwood fetes her first U.S. store

Vivienne Westwood opens first U.S. store

Top photo: First Lady Michelle Obama wears an ASOS Africa tunic while visiting the Emthonjeni Community Center in Zandspruit Township, Johannesburg, South Africa, on June 21. Charles Dharapak /Associated Press. Middle photo: Sarong from the Nicole Miller Indego Africa Collection; credit: Nicole Miller. Bottom photo: Vivienne Westwood with bags from her Ethical Fashion Collection. Credit: Juergen Teller.


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