The Fashion Forum

NEVER TOO LATE FOR A CHANGE

We’ve seen a complete changing of the guard in the late-night talk show world, with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, Seth Myers, Jimmy Kimmel and Trevor Noah among the funnymen now sitting in the interviewers’ chairs. But if the faces have changed, the uniform has remained mostly the same: dark suit, white or blue shirt, boring tie. While these guys certainly look dapper, one can’t help but feel they could push the sartorial envelope a bit more. Corden is one of the faces of Burberry, so where are the cutting-edge designs and pops of plaid? Fallon recently signed a deal with G-III for licensed athletic wear, so perhaps he’s saving all his creative juices for that collaboration. And would it kill Myers to borrow something more casual and creative from Stefon, his former flame from Saturday Night Live? The time is ripe to start a trend. —Brian Scott Lipton

DURABLE DENIM

Looking at the current high-fashion uses for denim, from three-piece suits to stylish coats, it can be hard to imagine just how utilitarian the cotton fabric was in its earlier days, when it was worn during the California Gold Rush and used to make early 20th-century prison uniforms. That latter usage surprised even fashion historian Emma McClendon, author of the new book Denim: Fashion’s Frontier and curator of the exhibition of the same name at New York City’s Museum at FIT. Still, McClendon admits that denim’s constant permutations really shouldn’t be shocking. “It’s the rare fabric that’s relatively inexpensive to produce, extremely durable, and easy to care for,” she says. —Brian Scott Lipton

THE MAN, THE MYTH

Italians are known to be superstitious, none more so than the Neapolitans.

In addition to the distinctive touch Isaia’s red coral pin adds to the brand’s garments, they believe it also brings luck to the wearer. “We still keep the original piece of Isaia red coral, given to me by a friend, in our Milan flagship store,” says Gianluca Isaia. “And every jacket we make comes with a red coral lapel pin to bring good luck to he who wears it.” The coral motif can also be spotted elsewhere throughout the collection, on buttons, under collars and in stitching.

As Isaia recounts from ancient mythology, Perseus slayed Medusa and delivered her head as a gift to the king of Seriphos, who was to wed his mother. During his travels home, Perseus fell in love with Andromeda, whom he found chained to a rock about to be eaten by the evil sea-monster Cetus. To prove his love and save her life, Perseus killed the terrible beast. As he sat to wash his hands in the sea, Perseus laid down the sack that contained Medusa’s head. Her blood dripped into the water and instantly hardened into the form we recognize today as red coral.

Just as the head of Medusa brought luck to Perseus in his battle with Cetus, red coral brings luck to the distinguished man who chooses an Isaia
garment. —Jillian LaRochelle

FASHIONABLE FRIDA

Is there anything more to know about Frida Kahlo? The great Mexican artist has been given the filmic treatment by Julie Taymor (and played by Salma Hayek), and her work has been displayed everywhere from LACMA to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the New York Botanical Garden. But another side of this groundbreaking woman is explored in Frida Kahlo: Fashion as the Art of Being(Assouline, $195), a new book by journalist Susana Martinez Vidal that was inspired by an exhibition of Kahlo’s own clothing at her home, La Casa Azul. As Vidal deftly illustrates, Kahlo’s fashion aesthetic is something neither time nor death can diminish. —Brian Scott Lipton

STREET SMART

Amsterdam’s Tassenmuseum gives the term “bag lady” a whole new (chic) meaning.  Inside a beautiful canal-side building, you can view hundreds of purses in various shapes, sizes and designs, spanning from the 1500s to the modern-day. This spring, the museum’s Street Coutureexhibition (through June 5) offers an enlightening perspective on these accessories as it showcases colorful, playful and inventive bags by such top fashionnames as Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dior, sometimes pairing them with international fashion ranging from Japanese “Lolita” clothing to American hip-hop outfits to illustrate how one influences the other. It’s definitely worth crossing the Atlantic to witness these crossovers! —Brian Scott Lipton

 

 

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