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Trends We Are Sick Of: The Designer Open Letter

Image: Getty

Image: Getty

I don't know how you handle perceived slights (I find that either giving people the stink eye at parties or exercising emotional maturity and getting over whatever happened typically does the trick), but designers have been taking a peculiar approach. Following the example set by fellow designers Oscar de la Renta and Hedi Slimane last Fall, John Paul Gaultier has released an aggrieved open letter attacking a prominent fashion critic. 

As a refresher: In September 2012, de la Renta took out a full-page ad in WWD attacking Cathy Horyn of The New York Times following what the designer mistakenly thought was a negative review. But it soon became clear that he'd read an insult where none was intended, making the feud a minor embarrassment for the designer. But that didn't stop budding Saint Laurent visionary Hedi Slimane from piling on with his own open letter, where he went after Horyn more abrasively, criticizing her sense of style and claiming that it undermined her professional credibility. (Speaking of things that are tasteless…)

Although Gaultier also took his letter-writing to Twitter, his actions are arguably more rational than either de la Renta's or Slimane's, given that he's responding to a review which, in its opening sentence, accuses the designer of "work[ing] a theme like a last nerve." editor-at-large Tim Blanks' write-up of the French designer's Fall 2013 couture collection comes down against Gaultier and his recent work in no uncertain terms:

"A few outfits later, a 'millefeuille de mousselines' echoed Yves Saint Laurent's way with color, as a reminder that Gaultier was once considered the one true heir to the throne of French fashion. But that was once upon a time, and that time has, sad to say, well and truly passed."

The designer's response: 

Image: Twitter/JPGaultier

Image: Twitter/JPGaultier

And if you were wondering where he learned that it was acceptable to parade his inability to withstand criticism, here's how he followed the open letter he posted to Twitter:

(Feeling like a scolding mother — "If Hedi and Oscar jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?")

The open letter may be a timeless form (you could trace it all the way back to the Bible), but right now it's also in vogue — and like everything else in fashion, it's a throwback. 

From what I can tell, the open letter's first appearance as a weapon in a fashion feud was in 1988.

At the time, designer Pauline Tri­gère was banned from the pages of influential trade publication WWD, possibly because she opposed publisher John Fairchild's controversial obsession with the midi-skirt (which he'd termed  “the longuette” and no, I'm not making this up) so she took out a full-page ad in The New York Times Magazine

From a 2012 Vanity Fair profile of Fairchild

"In a letter in red ink on her personal stationery, she wrote: 'A Dear John Letter to John Fairchild … is it really over between us? You don’t call, you don’t write, I still love you.' Publicizing the fight gained Trigère a tremendous amount of attention. As Amy Fine Collins wrote in a 1999 Vanity Fair story on Trigère, the advertisement did not end the feud, but Trigère could take satisfaction in being applauded for taking on the fashion-world giant. Stanley Marcus, the former chairman of the retailing chain Neiman Marcus, wrote an editorial in The Dallas Morning News saying that 'only Pauline Trigère has had the courage to publicly protest … this pompous, self-appointed fashion dictator.'” 


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Dion Lee Resort 2014 Collection is an Oil Spill Gone Right


When Dion Lee sold an undisclosed shareholding to Cue just one month ago, he promised the deal would free him to focus more heavily on the creative side. Clearly he’s not one of those people whose creativity is stifled by converging deadlines – besides designing for his mainline, he also does two collections per year for Line II – but Resort 2014 is his first outing post-merger.

The verdict? Shacking up with Cue is possibly the move of his career. 'Oil + Water' is everything a resort collection shouldn’t be, and might be his strongest to date as a consequence. The easy, breezy, strolling through vineyards in the Côtes du Rhône pieces start toughening up by around look seven, at which point things become a game of opposites.

Like oil and water, Lee’s materials are ones that refuse to blend and are all the more interesting for it. Natural and synthetic elements wrap up the body like a designer Christmas ham, leather artfully declines laying flat and further separations are created by kinky cut-outs. Not the kind of stuff you'd wear to an actual beachside resort, but more in tune with nature than anything we’ve seen this season.


The thing we most want to talk about, though, is the ‘Rainbow Slick’ digital print. In the past Lee has experimented with thermal imaging in heat, and the trippy new pattern gives a similarly mind-boggling sense of movement.

Word on the street Instagram is Dion Lee also has a swim collection in the works. Given his mastery of neoprene and the strength of this collection’s digitally printed one-piece, it'll be worth the wait. 



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HelenJean Offers One-of-a-Kind Dresses for Your One-of-a-Kind Body

Whether you're tall, short, blonde, brunette, we're all one-of-a-kind with our own unique idiosyncrasies and insecurities. Maybe you think your legs are too gangly to wear that minidress (*raises hand*) or that you're self conscious about your "bingo wings" in a shift (*again raises hand*), but why let a number define you? While everyone is a one-of-a-kind, why not let our clothing be the same?

A new Vancouver start-up, HelenJean, is challenging that exact ideal by offering tailor-made, custom clothing to fit your exact measurements. It works like this: You pick the dress style that you love from their website. Choose your colour, fabric and "intention" (Sexy? Chic? Successful? Strong?). Enter your real-world measurements and sit back while the tailors do their work over three weeks.


The novel idea was dreamt up by Katie Jeanes, designer of HelenJean, who was tired of going on marathon shopping excursions and coming back nearly empty handed. Not fitting into the mold of what clothing companies assume are everyone’s body type, Jeanes decided to create a line of clothing tailored specifically to each buyer.

"More often than not we let a size define how we feel about ourselves, I wanted to change that thought pattern. Rather than putting a number inside our clothing, each buyer gets to choose an intention and it’s then sewn into the dress discreetly," says Jeanes. "I thought that if I could make clothes that were custom fit to our bodies, instead of trying to fit our bodies into premade clothes, it may shift the focus from body image and self-esteem to more larger scale issues."

Helenjean Land

The dresses cost around $197, which, when you think in terms of tailor-made or wardrobe staples like a LBD, isn't too much of a stretch. I'm hoping they branch out into more garments — custom jeans anyone? — but do you know what I would literally pay a squillion-dollars for? Custom made boots that finally fit stringy calves.

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The Fashion Spot’s 10 Best Articles of the Week

The Fashion Spot’s 10 Best Articles of the Week

  1. Haute Couture Fall 2013 Hits and Misses (Forum Buzz) - Couture shows real talk.
  2. Fashion Bloggers: Here’s What We Love and Hate About You (Or, How to Be the Best Blogger Ever) - The ultimate guide for any personal style blogger. 
  3. 7 Heat Wave-Ready Celeb Hairstyles to Get You Through the Week - So. Hot. Outside.
  4. Gail Simmons: 5 Restaurants to Dine at Before You Die - Our wonderful July guest editor talks deliciousness, a subject she knows everything about.
  5. How to Shop Designer Vintage (Without Getting Screwed) - Expert tips and tricks. 
  6. The Best of Paris Men’s Fashion Week Spring 2014 - Boys, boys, boys.
  7. Our Week With Guest Instagrammer Bar Paly - Last week, Bar Paly joined theFashionSpot as our first-ever guest Instagrammer and Tweeter.
  8. Naomi Campbell Kicks Off Fall 2013 Haute Couture in Versace - Hello, sweet wonderful haute couture shows. 
  9. Cheers! Summer Cocktails for Every Occasion — and Skill Level - Hostess with the mostest guarantee. 
  10. Camilla Belle Shows Off Her Bob and Other Celeb Twitpics of the Week - Also in celebrity twitpics this week, Julianne Hough’s French diet, Wendy Davis Wears Erdem, Atlanta de Cadenet in stripes and more.

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Watch Lindsey Wixson, Georgia May Jagger, Daphne Groeneveld and Adriana Lima in Miu Miu’s Fall 2013 Campaign

Miu Miu is back with another campaign cast with a million models. I mean nine: Adriana LimaAnne VerhallenDaphne GroeneveldEmily DiDonatoGeorgia May JaggerHind SahliKatlin AasLindsey Wixson and Marina Nery. (Lima is, strangely enough given her commercial appeal and Victoria's Secret Angel status, making her a not-obvious fit for Miu Miu's haute-quirky schtick, the only model who was hired back after appearing in the label's Spring 2013 ads.) 

Image: Miu Miu

Image: Miu Miu

Image: Miu Miu

Image: Miu Miu

Image: Miu Miu

Image: Miu Miu

Image: Miu Miu

Image: Miu Miu

Image: Miu Miu

Image: Miu Miu

Inez and Vinoodh returned to direct the moody campaign, which somehow manages to make dancing on boats with models seem like a relatively unpleasant and grim way of spending an evening. 


PreviouslyMiu Miu’s Spring Campaign Stars at Least One Model You Really, Really Like (Especially If You Really, Really Like Bette Franke) 

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From Pickering to Paris, All Eyes Are on Model Jessa Brown


SUTHERLAND MODELS INC. - Teen From Pickering Next Supermodel?

Images via CNW Group/Sutherland Models Inc.

Jessa Brown claims she had never even taken the Go Train from her hometown to Toronto when, a chance encounter with Sutherland Models Agency Director Carole Reynolds, led to her walking the runways of New York and Paris.

After meeting Reynolds during a weekend water park getaway at Great Wolf Lodge, the striking 5'11" brunette high school student decided to try her hand, or rather her feet, at strutting in couture. "I thought she was absolutely beautiful, the type of model who could shoot the biggest campaigns in the world," says Reynolds, though the agency head was not alone in her opinion. 

Jessa quickly began to work for top Canadian fashion magazines including Flare and Elle Canada. She was signed to agencies in New York, Paris and Milan, and has walked for the likes of Givenchy, Miu Miu, Ellie Saab and Balenciaga to just name a few. But of course, Jessa counts her favourite designer to be homegrown talent Lucian Matis and her choice model to be Linda Evangelista.

Given that she's still in school, Jessa has been able to balance her studies in Grade 11 with travelling around the world to model. While her friends spent the Victoria Day Weekend in Collingwood, Jessa was in Monaco to model for Dior, followed by a quick trip to Shanghai to walk the runway for Hugo Boss. Still, she doesn't forget where she comes from and, despite the glitz and glamour of the industry, told Vogue, "I'm a girly girl but also have a tom boy sick and love sport." You can take the girl out of Pickering…

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