Gentle reader,

I hope you’ve emerged from Christmas relatively unscathed this year.  Ours was lovely, spent with my parents and a veritable army of relatives who descended upon their house at the edge of a tiny Central California town yesterday afternoon.  Fifteen or so of them were aged twelve and younger and the sea of presents that we adults brought to quench the youngsters’ thirst for licensee products threatened to engulf the living room.  Many of us managed to remember which of the little ones loved Disney princesses and who was a big fan of Angry Birds, but the most interesting gift and one that stole the spotlight for several minutes after I opened the box was an ancient taxidermied squirrel clutching a hundred dollar bill.  Um, thanks, Dad.

Scott’s mother and sister joined us there this year for the first time, coping admirably with the crowd of friendly strangers, and when it was all over, my aunt thanked them for “bringing a little class” to the family, though, she continued, “that’s like bringing a cup of water to a forest fire.”  I was once horrified but now find it rather amusing that my relatives see themselves as untamed rednecks when they are actually very polite, articulate, WASP-y horse people, though they may own perhaps a few too many guns between them.

Well, there’s that dead squirrel, too, so my aunt might just be on to something.

Christmas is now behind us and it’s inevitable that those “Best of 2012” lists are going to start rolling in.  Even if the fashion world is forever looking forward, I thought it might be nice to see what we did pretty well this last year, as well.

1. Let’s start in January at Milan Men’s Fashion Week when two big fall trends emerged:  Nineteenth century dandies and sleek Sixties sophisticates.  Dolce and Gabbana exemplified the former with their operatic show of gorgeously embroidered jackets and waistcoats and Ermengildo Zegna oozed ski chalet cool with plaids and perfectly tailored skinny trousers.

Dolce Gabbana

Backstage at Dolce & Gabbana (Ph: Sonny Vandevelde)

2. February saw the Academy Awards where Gwyneth Paltrow dominated in sleek white Tom Ford.  The award for Most Memorable Performance on the Red Carpet has to go to Angelina Jolie, however.  At first I thought it was a horrible accident that her leg was sticking out so aggressively from her black Atelier Versace gown but, when she kept doing it over and over, I realized it must have been planned.  A very witty Twitter account for @AngiesRightLeg was born within a couple of minutes so I guess I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

3. Raf Simons’ last show for Jil Sander during Paris Fashion Week that month was also really important, at least in hindsight.  The restraint and quiet pastel elegance might be what catapulted Simons into the Christian Dior catbird seat but the emotions surrounding his final show for that label certainly didn’t hurt.  Then came Jil Sander herself back to Jil Sander, Raf Simons to Christian Dior and Hedi Slimane went to YSL in the summer.  We’ll have to see how t-shirt impresario Alexander Wang does at Balenciaga but I don’t have high hopes.  The revolving door of creative directors had held the fashion crowd in an ongoing state of anxiety since Galliano was ousted from Dior nearly two years ago so it was nice to get some closure on the matter.  For now, anyway.

Diane Kruger Cannes

Kruger in Valli

4. But back to the spring, where Diane Kruger ruled the Cannes Film Festival, though only a jury member, by showing up at every premiere and screening in a perfectly calculated ensemble.  I wasn’t a fan of them all but I remember seeing on her the pale indigo of Chanel Resort for the first time away from the runway and the diaphanous aqua Giambattista Valli that made her appear the movie star of our time.

5. The Olympics took up most of our attention during the summer and, though sporting outfits aren’t really under my fashion umbrella, I do remember the big hoopla about Ralph Lauren’s USA team outfits being outsourced to Chinese manufacturers.  Then there were the silly pink and pale blue German outfits and the cool in-your-face totalitarian ensembles of the Chinese atheletes.  Everyone already knows that they own the world, so why not dress like it?  Jeez.

6. I also loved Ricardo Tischi’s collection for Givenchy during the Men’s Spring 2013 collections.  It was a white and pastel line that had a heavy Indian feel, though it was actually ecclesiastically inspired and that makes total sense once you hear it.  It was nearly on par with his sensational Women’s Fall 2012 collection, which was dark and seductive.

7. My last big moment of 2012 was Jason Wu’s show in September for Spring/Summer 2013.  Inspired by Helmut Newton photographs, it was largely black and white, included leather, sheer fabrics, great boning and tulle out the wazoo.  The backdrop of an enormous slanted mirror reflected sharp silhouettes cutting across the expansive marble tile floor.  To quote my review, “It was sexy and a little kinky but never trashy and that’s not an easy balance to achieve.”

I’m sure there are many more fascinating moments in fashion to explore as we close the year but, since I’m not thinking of them right now, I guess they’re just not that memorable for me.  Don’t worry, it’s purely subjective.  If you have anything that stood out to you, I’d love to hear about it.

See you in 2013!

Much love,

xxJames

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