What The Hell Is Going On Here?

Picture this (metaphorically): Karl invites you for a weekend in Saint-Tropez (!!!), and of course, you consent. (You can't say no to Karl). There are, as usual, the hot, illustrious, sleep-for-money crowd partying. And Karl decides to conjure up his entire Cruise '11 show there (for Coco reasons, of course). Not to be mistaken with the collection presented in Hotel du Cap in Antibes on the French Riviera a year later. If his Remember Now short film bestows any indication of what that voyage might look like, then I'm fetching my Goyards. Mr. Lagerfeld summoned folks like Pascal Gregory, Elisa Sednaoui, Heidi Mount and Baptise Gabiconi to act the part, which consists of reciting of couple of lines, move frantically inside some tony club, wear Chanel accouterments and drive expensive vehicles. The Karl Experience. 

You might find this seasons old, but how can we ever diminish A Karl Moment? Especially those instances where he's found outside a Chanel atelier or stepping out of a Zaha Hadid spectacular monument (such the ambiance of the S/S 2012 show). At the hotel, whilst everyone is in a semi-state of unconsciousness due to last night's heavy alcohol consumption, you hear "Allez Donc Vous Faire Bronzer" by Sacha Distel. Only for the cartoonish-like sounds of Distel to be contrasted with a murmur of thick french, "Quel silence" appropriated by none other than Karl. He's wearing a blindingly white, Tom Ford or Dior Homme suit, walks in to find a drunken mess, he seems infuriated because there is a lunch at 1 p.m. and people are not dressed. His passive-aggrive disposition seems to evaporate when someone utters, "But this is Saint-Tropez!", he replies, "I see". Over lunch we converse on topics ranging from who looks démodé to who is not coming back next season. You must see (if you haven't) the man in all his Largerfeldian white gloriousness here (fast forward to minute 3:38). 


Photo Diary: Yellow Diamonds In The Light

(1) As I step out of Old Glory on M Street in Georgetown, I caught the beautiful sunset on the horizon. I was mesmerized at how the pavement looks in the picture. As Mario Testino would say, very cinematic. 

(2)(3) I went for lunch at Last Canteras, a Peruvian restaurant that caught my attention once I was in Adams Morgan. The local restaurant is nestled within the former row houses that compose 18th Street. The 4-story building bares this pastel violet colour, and white window accents, suggesting it was some type of retirement home. The interior however depicts a different picture. Crisp white table cloths, comfy chairs and enough displayed artifacts for a quick lesson in Peruvian history. I ordered an Arroz con Pollo, which consists of two drumsticks of fried poultry, a bed of cilantro infused rice, all accompanied by peas, tiny carrots, fresh sliced onions and a leaf of lettuce. The beer, Cusqueña, would not be found at your local AVC. The whole experience reminded of my childhood and exemplified how richly diverse our cuisine really is. 

(4) The justly demise of the most suppressing homophobic federal policy America has been seen, Don't Ask, Don't tell, on the cover of Express. And the mustard cable knit sweater from Diesel in Details. Every color!

(5) John Legend at The Fillmore.

(6) Macbook moment. 

(7) The mysteriously-lit bar in Alero. I just recently learned there is actually a beverage called Galliano. But we all know Galliano (the man) and Alcohol don't mix well. 

(8) The architecture of the St Regis hotel (14th and K Street) is always fascinating. What's even more fascinating it's the interior. If you ever find yourself in the nation's capital, consider this one. You would be literally sleeping two blocks from The Obamas. 

(9) Porsche and Cranberry Juice at Number 9

(10) Debbie Harry at JR's.

(11) Karl Lagerfeld for Impulse at Macy's on the cover of The Examiner. I still can't get enough of Coco Rocha.


Ferrari And Ralph Lauren

About two months ago, on our way to lunch in Georgetown, I found myself sitting on the passenger seat of a friend's car. We're stopped by a flashing red light on N Lynn Street, just steps away from Key Bridge, D.C.'s version of Pont Neuf. In my vicinity, there is a piece of art stationed right outside a local CVS (out of all places). The automobile, idly parked, bears a red candy apple colour, the top is down, and an inconspicuous Ferrari logo is deflecting the sun's rays. I was dead stopped in my tracks. The red light, high above us, is still beaming brightly, luckily. Not long after I visually scanned the sumptuous monster, a man steps out of the aforementioned store. He's looking sharp, and I immediately categorize him as European. But considering the seemingly miraculous achievements of plastic surgery and well fitting clothes, anybody can appear "European". The jury is still out. He walks to the drive's seat, pulls out the keys and hops in. And the following scenario ensues: 

Me: "Hey Daddy!"

Him: *looks back* and replies, "Hey"

Me: "I love your car!"

Him: *Smiles*

Never mind my unapologetic, shameless flirting, I'm hollering halfway across the street. I still don't know what took over me. I pulled out my iPhone and snap! The light changes and we drive off. (I don't know if the man was the owner of the automobile, nor the fact that he dominates the English language, but it was certainly a hilarious bit). 

Nobody can blame me for being turn on by these type of cars (especially Porsches). It's a natural reaction. Growing up in Lima, I could only appreciate these type of beauties through a television screen. It was a "Hollywood" thing. A life so far from mines, yet I felt a intrinsic connection. I was never an ardent automobile aficionado, but I appreciate good design in any form. Mind you, I still don't know how to change a tire or handle any type of oil leaking problems, but there is always a mechanic in reach. Allow me to make a quick parenthetical here. Why are men subjugated to hard labor and wield types of metal and women to kitchens and domestic matters? This iron age type of thinking (or lack there of) must be eradicated from minds living in today's world. Now back to regular programing. 

We arrive in Georgetown a few minutes later and found precious parking space at some alley (sometimes parking in D.C. can turn into a nightmare, that's why folks choose the underground form of transportation.) As we walk around M Street, discussing where to eat, my eyes start to meander the buzzing milieu. The climate was in our favor, mild, and I guess that enticed the privileged to take their whips out for a nice ride. I spotted a couple of Porches, one who pretty much includes similar characteristics to my dream car. It was killer red, convertible and super shiny. You could've though a Hilton was cushioned in there. I later descry a Big Birdie Mazda, that could've easily played double on Transformers. And what topped the day was this caravan of canoe-like capsules of vehicles pedaling down M Street. I thought this could've been an actual competitive sport in the Olympics during the 1930's. You could only see the top of the drivers' head. Their bodies, I suppose, were positioned mummy style. It was a rather interesting twenty seconds. 

As the day goes on, sitting in the restaurant, I start thinking about Ralph Lauren and his ridiculously luxurious collection of vintage cars. Then, the cover of the 2007 October issue of the now defunct Men's Vogue came to mind. In the Bruce Weber photograph, he's wearing an army green tee and bares a half grin (have you ever seen Mr. Lauren smile?), gripping the steering wheel of his 1965 Jaguar XKD, which constitutes, as the magazine calls it, "the world's greatest car collection". The cover line reads, "American Visionaries". A very apropos title in every sense of the word, if you ask me. In the brilliantly written piece titled "King of The Road", Hudson Morgan spends the day with Mr. Lauren at his Bedford, New York, estate. And is introduced to a more intimate side of his life, away from the runway. After riding with Mr. Lauren on Old Montauk Highway in his 2007 Ferrari F430 at ridiculously fast speed records, Morgan reacts with, "shock, awe and perhaps longing" after he's shown nine red vintage Ferraris ("Roman legion of mighty engineering') by the man himself. The proof is in the pudding. Although I had to cut out a quarter of a sheet for a fashion project years ago, I can still witness, clearly, Mr. Lauren ostensively sybaritic display of wealth. There is a lipstick red Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962, a silver 1995 Mercedez-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe, a Batman-worthy 2006 Bugatti Veyron (can you picture Mr. Lauren in the Bugatti Boyz vid with Diddy & Rick Ross? Major) and an bevy of other vehicles strategically positioned fittingly for an art gallery presentation. 

"Maybe it's stupid of me to drive them all. But they're not precious. When I was younger it was, 'Look how fast I can go." Now it's, 'Look how well I can handle this car.'" - Ralph Lauren (image by ralphlauren.com)

As much as you might think of Mr. Lauren as an icon or having a god-like complexion, he remains grounded, humble, recognizing his gaffes. "I feel that's a failure. A failure!", he admits to Morgan, in regards to Derrick Miller of Barker Black and Alex Carlenton of Rogues Gallery, former key Polo designers. "I shouldn't have lost those guys", he adds, "Losing someone means he felt he can't grow in your company, can't make it". Although Mr. Lauren and his 11 billion company are not exempt from loosing creative types, the article portrays the man not only as a vintage car collector, or fashion tycoon, but as an American archetype. His ambitious is uncanny, "In the next 20 years, the company will have another dimension. It could be a multimedia, it could be hotels, it could be spas. It's like, what makes you? What's your home look like? What's your car?", he adds, "What can I say about myself that's not been said" How will I be perceived when I walk into that party? I have all this money--how am I gonna make myself look cool?" If being "cool" is what Mr. Lauren is concern about, then I think he has already accomplished that. On the second page, there is a black and white picture of Mr. Lauren with his two sons, David and Andrew, wearing (expectedly RL) tuxedos and they all look quite radiant (all was missing were Tom Cruise-worthy aviators). Now I'm left wondering if his wife, Ricky, calls him Ralphy. 


The Skin I Live In

Whilst browsing IMDb for future film releases, I'm visually detained by a photograph that immediately entices a spark of interest in me. The unmistakable Antonio Banderas is quickly recognized, exuding a seemingly timid disposition. He's standing behind a bald headed woman wearing a prosthetic mask. There are lines carefully sketched onto her body as meat ready to be chop. Her eyes are wide open, holding a certain level of fear. 
The striking photograph is the poster of the new film, "La Piel Que Habito" (The Skin I Live In), by august Spanish maestro (and one of my favorites) Pedro Almodovar. 

The official trailer in Spanish (above) depicts a tortured and demented plot, just as how Pedro's films go. In case you have no dominance of the Spanish language, peep this trailer (it might just make more sense). The IMDb synopsis explains, "A brilliant plastic surgeon (Antonio Banderas), haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: A mysterious and volatile woman (Elena Ayana) who hold the key to his obsession". Sounds like a Telemundo soap opera to me. Intriguing nonetheless. 

Althoug the film, which debuts on October 12th during the New York Film Festival, will suffer from a limited viewership in The States, it does not take away from the artistry of story telling, if judged by the few minutes of trailer footage. Also, very important, Antonio Banderaaaassssss is in it. Enough said. 

Peep this shot of Pedro (in Prada SS 2011) holding Banderas in his arms during this year's Cannes. 


Chanel Cruise '07

"Perhaps we should not even call it cruise anymore, it's a limited term of a big ship for middle age people. That's not proper"

As a palette cleanser after devouring Fashion Month, I present you a stream of visuals branded with an interlocking double C's logo all over it. Chanel! Rolls off the tongue. The collections of yore, often deemed as irrelevant, and if one braves to step out in a piece from the archives, the term "out of season" would come following. This is not meant to be a nostalgic pang, but a minuscule display of pure Chanel prowess. This, along with a collection shown at a L.A. airport (Chanel private airplanes, anyone?) back in 2007, are some of the strongest Cruise offerings from Uncle Karl (a.k.a. Karl Lagerfeld). The seemingly endless ooze of creativity from the czar is still going strong (for prove, check the SS 2012 show). Like a German Energizer Bunny, still going, going, going... 

"I thought it would be fun, nice, and polite to show in New York", Mr. Lagerfeld told Tim Blanks back then, "It's the idea of travel, and an act of freedom", he added. The Chanel empire took over Grand Central Station, and reformed the upper platform into what appears to be a posh airport waiting area. In this case, I guess, it should have a resemblance to a train central. How many fashion houses can you name that are financially and socially capable to conjure a spectacle of that caliber? Exactly. 

The rare visuals above depict the raw behind-the-scenes of the shenanigans that takes place behind a Chanel collection. Who would have thought Karl smiles? Dare I say, he evens looks jaunty in bits. That's rare. Everything from Lysianne and her bichon named Albert, Karl's minions pulling out 27 Goyards, models smoking in secrecy, Anna Wintour-watching, Andre Leon Talley in white gloves -- "Click, Chanel, Click", and ultimately the Chanel team departing in a black mini bus (who knew Karl rides buses? I was shocked) is pure fashion goodness. Needless to add, the collection, was history in the making. 

My climax arrived in this hilarious exchange where Karl shouted, "A cardigan with a cardigan...it's a gay twin-set", pointing towards a striped cardigan on male model Garrett Neff. "Why a gay twin-set", A lady, sitting close by enquired. "Because they are two of the same", Karl responded. I'm still longing for my CC gay-twin set. 



This exemplifies the perfect marriage that occurs in fashion when you least expect it, or assumably, when two extraordinary talents combine forces; Nicolas Ghesquiére and Pierre Hardy. The duo, Ghesquiére as creative director and Hardy, head of design for accessories has given the fashion crowd memorable, almost orgasmic moments. The "athletic techno" sandals that resembled football helmets for Fall/Winter 2007 (which was blatantly pirated by brands that shall not be named); the rather intricate, fetishistic, knee-high lace up boot for Spring/Summer 2008; and most recently, the blocked heeled shoes that resembled legos for Fall/Winter 2010 are just some of the wondrous pieces of art that have come to fruition by the febrile minds of these two fearless visionaries. The Fall/Winter 2011-12 Men's footwear collection follows sue. 

The collection delineates a sensible comparison to Cristobal Balenciaga's disposition for architectural shapes. The austerity of the leather boots in burgundy and black with what seems to be a shrunken, polished spur fixated at the toes combines the rigorousness, yet understated luxury found in the house's archives. A line of athletic shoes, some which resemble Nike's Air Max running shoes, feature appliqués of leather and suede in shades of forest green, sand and fluorescent red. Most likely, you won't find this conjunction of such genteel fabrics in one design at your local Foot Locker. Elsewhere, canvases with a stiff, plank-ish tongue and high trainers (one in plastic soles) diversify the offerings. And what you might see Prince wear this fall include those round-toed loafers and monks (featuring a seductive yellow sole), or even those sexy chelsea boots. 

Peep over at Balenciaga for its newly designed e-home and to see all the accessories in all their glory. As it should be, of course.