The power of reinventing the fashion wheel

About the power of fashion transformation
Louis Vuitton’s Spring ’08 runway
Louis Vuitton’s Spring ’08 runway

RECYLE. REUSE. REINVENT. The very notion of reinvention is always going to be a consideration every time there’s a new season, but Spring ’08 has a special resonance. It’s scarcely reassuring to see American pop culture surrendering to nihilism on such an apocalyptic scale, especially in an election year. That’s why we’re compelled to cling ever more fervently to the eternal verities of fashion cheer. Oh, look, a fairy-tale print! And a cheery floral! And the best-est “it” bag I’ve ever seen, thanks to Marc Jacobs and his artist collaborator Richard Prince.

Mellon and Weinstein
Mellon and Weinstein

Another reinvention we can anticipate with a modicum of optimism is the Halston revival (thanks to the deep pockets of investors including movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Jimmy Choo president Tamara Mellon and stylist Rachel Zoe will also be involved in the relaunch). I went to Studio 54 a couple of times and never really got it, but it certainly had a good look. Admittedly, Tom Ford seemed to have nailed that look pretty well in the mid-’90s, so there doesn’t seem too much reason to do it again.

Halston at the reopening of
Studio 54 in 1981

Reason? Am I mad? Fashion needs no reason when it has a success story like Ford’s to incentivize dozens of moribund labels to follow suit. All that’s really required is blind faith, a few billion dollars and the attention span of a mayfly on the part of company and clients alike. Without that complicity, reinvention would be impossible. Look at the original Halston, for example. Roy Halston Frowick, the milliner from Iowa, was able to transform himself into Manhattan’s absolute arbiter of glamour with nary a backward glance at his origins.

Actually, in that respect, fashion and the movies are very similar. They’re both dream factories, where the small and the ordinary can be transmogrified into something splendiferous; Norma Jeane Baker became Marilyn Monroe, Laura Hollins turns into Agyness Deyn.

That is one reason why I happily attend fashion shows season after season. You’re always wishing, hoping and praying for the catwalk equivalent of the Oscar-winning transformation. Sometimes, it will be a name that’s new to the scene, but I’ve often found I was more engaged when one of the warhorses pulled a rabbit out of a hat: Valen-tino (late and lamented, in his professional capacity at least) or Oscar de la Renta or Lauren or Lagerfeld or Ar-mani. This season, all of them offered opportunities to watch a rise to the challenge of the new, return to the well, remind themselves why they love what they do. By doing that, they’ve reminded us how a little metamorphosis can go a long way.


Read last month’s column by Tim Blanks >

EDITOR: Elio Iannacci
PHOTOGRAPHY: Ron Galella/ (Halston); (Mellon and Weinstein)