Style Diary: The Muse, Christine Suppes

Christine Suppes in Vivienne Westwood Couture, Photographed by Frederic Aranda

Founder of Haute Couture Parton

by David Pedroza, Editor-in-Chief

Christine Suppes is the innovator and pioneer to introduce the first editorial fashion E-magazine on the Internet. In 1999, Christine launched, a site that reported fashion week coverage from all over the world, interviewed fashion's most interesting designers, and covered life style and cultural stories. The site closed in 2007, but made way for new fashion Internet editorials and inspired fashion bloggers abroad. Christine Suppes is not only a respected journalist (she is also our fellow Editor at large), but a great patron of the arts as well (she was the major patron of the Yves Saint Laurent retrosoective at the de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Fransisco in 2008, and will also be patron for the Balenciaga exhibition at the de Young in March 2011). Christine is also a celebrated Haute Couture collector and has been noted to support new talent, such as Rodarte when they first appeared on the fashion radar. This beautiful, inspiring and intriguing woman shares with us her unique personal style and why she loves haute couture....

DP: Has it been an easy or difficult to become one of society’s arbiters of fashion?

CS: Being a style arbiter was nothing I ever thought about. I realized early on when purchasing the clothes I loved that I would rather know more about each garment, and be able to write about it, than just to be known as a fashion consumer.

DP: Does your mood reflect what you wear?

CS: My mood is affected by what I wear. Rodarte brings out the California girl in me, Chanel brings serenity (correctness has its place!), Westwood brings joy, Lacroix Haute Couture brings majesty. And on and on….

DP: Who are your favorite designer(s)?

CS: Karl Lagerfeld of course, On Aura Tout Vu who are my dearest friends, Kate and Laura Mulleavy who I adore, and of course, Vivienne Westwood, that wonderful madcap genius.

DP: How did you gain this passion for collecting haute couture?

CS: By going to so many shows. I broke down one afternoon at a Lacroix show and started to cry because I wanted to look like the angel on the runway. I had already been buying dozens of on aura tout vu gowns and accessories, but they were still “invited members”, not flat out Haute Couture.

DP: What was your first HC purchase and did this purchase change the way you view clothes? The quality, shelf life, purpose of clothes….

CS: Again, it was the angelic Lacroix apricot organza coat with beige embroidered pearl lace and a matching dress. I have always taken care of my clothes, even when I wore GAP jeans. This time, with couture, I turned the lights off and covered the garments with “shrouds”. The purpose of clothes, after a certain level, means the wearer is taking responsibility for the look of a generation.

Striking a pose in Vivienne Westwood, photograph by Frederic Aranda

DP: Do you think your clothes well demonstrate your personality or who you are?

CS: They demonstrate something, but perhaps it’s too bold for me to say they demonstrate me.

DP: Are your accessories an extension of your ensembles, or do they stand out as their own objects?

CS: In the case of Chanel or Westwood, they belong as an ensemble. In the case of on aura tout vu, the accessories may stand alone because they are absolute works of cutting edge art.

DP: What are your favorite pieces in your closet?

CS: The latest thing I own…The pieces I love most are what I have recently acquired. There are exceptions, my Westwood corsets, my on aura tout vu accessories and their famous Map Coat from their second collection, and Lacroix’s goat hair and silver bell ethnic coat from his 2006 autumn collection.

DP: Do you believe being Editor in Chief of help your own personal style evolve by being exposed to more designers and their visions?

CS: Of course! Without question. At one point I was covering between 8-10 shows or related functions per day in Paris on my own. Experience like that matches no other.

DP: What would be your immediate reaction if you were sitting next to a woman wearing the exact dress as the one you where wearing?

CS: If I were wearing Haute Couture, I would find the directrice of the house and make a complaint. But prĂȘt-a-porter is just that-----ready to wear. One can’t complain too much about what is more readily available. However, having said that, the prices of Chanel demi-couture are so high now that the saleswoman should bear in mind not to sell the same garment to frenemies or even friends in the same social group!

Extravagant in Vivienne Westwood Couture, which was custom made for Christine. Photograph by Frederic Aranda

The New Modernist: Chadwick Bell

Source of Insperation for the Chadwick Bell Spring 2011 Collection. Photograph by Gigi Stoll

by David Pedroza, Editor-in-Chief

During the Golden Age of Haute Couture, Madame Gres created a sensation with bias cut gowns and liquid, jersey dresses which resembled the ruined columns of Greece. The mastery of drape and manipulation of the bias grain, established her as a grand couturier and master dress maker. For spring 2011, Chadwick Bell, presented a collection that took on the key elements of Madame Gres; soft draped fabrics, beautifully cut bias, and an airiness in his clothes in which great dressmakers learn through an apprenticeship at an haute couture house.

I had the pleasure of being a guest at the Chadwick Bell Studio during the spring 2011 collections, in September. Bell’s collection titled, Camouflage, took on inspiration from a photographer who took photos of her journey in a desert. These photographs by Gigi Stoll, exposed the beautiful textures, rich colors, and elements of a desert along with the life style of those who inhabited the desert. Bell took these elements and transformed them into loose bias cut dresses, light cotton voile blouses and evening columns beautifully adorned with stacked paillettes made to look like crushed, wet, earth. On the runway, the collection was beautiful and very light, but the work up-close was impressive, the attention to detail did not disappoint. Bell’s tailoring techniques have developed during the years; he has achieved the ability to create soft jackets with impeccable tailoring techniques. Taupe, earthy-red clay hues, and Ash grays dominated the color palette, with a mixture of classic men’s suiting fabrics and an organic print in Navy with Egg shell white. Fabrics ranged from a pinstriped gabardine, silk georgette, flesh colored Lamb, and Mudsilk, a crisp, dense fabric which had a distressed, leather look, but soft and light to create an architectural caftan gown. Bell and Webster took me through the collection, and we discussed the virtues of each garment and their workmanship. Chadwick Bell produces ready-to-wear, which is sold at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, but the workmanship stands out, some pieces have been made with the same integrity as haute couture garments, which has created the brand a strong following, of modern elegant woman, many who are Haute Couture clients (One of his clients was a loyal customer at Christian Lacroix Haute Couture).

Studio Visit Photos: 1) Bias cut gown with layers of Chiffon to create a Moire effect. 2) Organic Print Dress. 3) "Mudsilk" Gown. 4) Mastered tailoring in a light men's suiting fabric. 5) The georgette gown shown at the end, with beading made to look like crushed, wet, earth.

Vanessa Webster, Bell’s managing director and business partner, recognized Bell’s unique eye and talent, and supported him to launch a label under his own name in 2007. Webster, who has a laid back elegance and charm, has expanded the company from a small made to order business to an established brand creating clothes for everyday lifestyle. Bell, created a vision of sophisticated, beautifully made clothes that have an intellectual approach with an artistic influence, which vary from contemporary art to grand masters of Haute Couture. Bell favors the work of legendary designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix and Gianfranco Ferre, whose architectural background is evident in Bell’s clothes. Chadwick bell’s vision continues on to jewelry and shoes; for spring 2011, the collection features beautiful abstract rosaries and gold chains that have a modern and rustic mood, along with hardy, stacked heel, luggage sandals made in collaboration with shoe designer, Nathalie Elharrar.

Chadwick Bell is on his way to becoming a great American Fashion House, with a more sophisticated view on fashion than most young designers, and establishing himself for the long run. Creating clothes that will outlive the seasonal shelf live, and will carry on to a new generation, perhaps he may even become one of our American masters.

Studio Visit Photos: 6) Perfect Bias Cut Day Dress. 7) Bias cut, pinstriped wool dress. 8) The great White Blouse. 9) Supple Lamb used to create a travel-friendly Dress. 10) Silk gold iridescent Matelasse dress with stacked paillettes embroidery.

Runway shots of the Spring 2011 Chadwick Bell Show, courtesy of WWD

Post Script: All clothes and accessories by Chadwick Bell Spring 2011. Chadwick Bell is available at Bergdorf Goodman, New York.

Paris Fashion Week Spring 2011: Elie Saab Pret-a-Porter

by April Hall, Paris Correspondent
Elie Saab - Retro done right! Elie Saab's spring 2011 RTW collection was a wonderful example of how to take a decade, the 70's, and use it as inspiration, instead of simply remaking them. His glamorous presentation included short suits, kaftans, and platforms, gold jewellery and other highly recognizable 70's trends, yet remained appropriately modern. The dusty rose pink, dusty periwinkle, and print fabric containing both which he used seem very of the moment. In addition the big gold cuffs and necklaces were feminine and surprisingly delicate given their size, which glamed everything up but kept the feeling more Monte Carlo than Miami. There is no doubt that everyone from 18 to 80 will be wearing his designs come the warm spring weather!
photos via