Everyone loves to bemoan the state of fashion today: it’s too fast, it’s too big, it’s too corporate, it’s too global, it’s too accessible, they say. But no one really does anything about it. Technology speeds things up and fashion follows. Everyone wants more and they want it now. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But last night one of fashion’s most respected brands brought together some of fashion’s most respected names to slow things down, talk, and reflect about the state of fashion.
Lauren and I felt very lucky to attend Miu Miu’s second “Miu Miu Musing” hosted by the incredibly gorgeous and stylish Shala Monroque, who looked like a Miu Miu barbie doll in a bright red wig. The theme for the evening’s salon discussion was “constructive superficiality.”
But before André Leon Talley started off the conversation among fashion’s elite–everyone from IMG’s Ivan Bart to Tavi to Stephanie Seymour’s two incredibly well-informed and entertaining sons was there–we were treated to a performance by classical violinist Hahn Bin. Bin, the 22-year-old protege of Izthak Perlman, was the perfect way to introduce the conversation topic for the evening. Part musical prodigy, part pop performance artist, Bin wears black makeup covering his eyes, his hair sprayed into a peaked wave atop his head, and gives an over-the-top dramatic performance, the likes of which you’d never find at the Met. (He performed and walked at Elise Øverland’s spring show.)
“Hahn embraces superficiality,” Monroque said as she opened up last night’s discussion. “You wouldn’t think he was as talented as he is if you saw him walking down the street.” Talley continued, “You can be very superficial and still exude rivers of depth.”
From there Talley, wrapped in a black cape, held court (though the Brant brothers certainly held their own) and Monroque moderated what Talley called a “neo-Proustian Miu Miu salon.” Which designers really have depth? “The best creative people tap into the sense of wonderment you have as a child,” Talley said, and treated us to story time by reading passages of Patti Smith’s Just Kids aloud, a book we’re deeming the unofficial book of fashion week. Which celebrities dress right for the red carpet? Talley held up a photo of Hailee Steinfeld in Prada at the SAG awards. Which celebrities dress the best? The ones who are actually invested in what they wear–like January Jones, Talley said.
The biggest treat was listening to Talley, one of our fashion heros, talk about his fashion heros. We learned about Diana Vreeland (she would ask him, before going out, if the rouge on her temples was “Kabuki enough”) and Pat Cleveland and Karl Lagerfeld. But the night was not all about fashion hero worship–though there was plenty of dwelling on the “good ole days.” Talley and Monroque encouraged a thoughtful discussion about fashion, and where and how it is that there is still substance in fashion today, even when it seems too fast, too accessible, and too big. Monroque summed up the evening by pointing to Tavi, who caused a stir when she wore a hat that blocked an editor’s view at Dior couture last year, but used the attention it brought her to say thoughtful things in her blog, and design t-shirts which she sold and then donated the profits to a worthy cause. Some folks (we won’t name names) took issue with people who just follow trends like drones rather than creatively expressing themselves–but that sounded just as judgmental to us as judging someone for wearing something uber-creative and out there. If it’s all about substance, don’t the folks who follow trends have some substance behind their H&M and Topshop, too? And what’s wrong with fast fashion? It’s stuff we can actually afford.
There was funny stuff, too, namely the part where Talley and Peter Brant II (Stephanie Seymour’s son) tried to out-Louis Vuitton-luggage each other–”Honey, I have a luggage room!,” “So does my mom!,” etc. We could go on and on about last night–it was special and unique and unlike any fashion event we’ve ever attended. But leave it to Mr. Talley to give the evening some real gravitas–he said it was the closest thing to Andy Warhol’s factory–where he got his start at Interview–that he’d experienced.