After a Fashion

Gucci buys Saint Laurent, International Male sells trendy trash at reasonable prices, Calvin Klein crams raggedy jeans down our throats.

THE DIRT The incredibly glamorous and powerful House of Gucci has now purchased the incredibly glamorous and powerful House of Saint Laurent for a cool $1 billion. Yves Saint Laurent, who retired recently, co-founded the house with Pierre Berge, who will stay on to head the couture division, and Gucci design superstar Tom Ford will take over all YSL ready-to-wear. YSL has been a hallmark of all that was chic since 1961, but desperately needs the facelift that Ford can give it. Unfortunately, that leaves current YSL designer Alber Elbaz out of a job. I suppose he could apply for Tom Ford's old position at Gucci -- it appears that Chloe designer and Beatle daughter Stella McCartney is in the running for the job, but because of her animal activism, she refuses to work with leather and fur, which are mainstays of the Gucci image.

IM ME You can't help but really like the International Male catalog -- they dare men to take fashion risks at affordable prices for clothing that is flashy, splashy, and fun. Of course, many men have no room in their lives for clothing that is flashy, splashy, and fun -- how often do you really need the male equivalent of hostess pajamas? But, if you do happen to need them, International Male is the place to look. This is the catalog where men can find "winter white" and where "poet's shirts" have never gone out of style. But the profile for the IM customer does seem to have changed -- while there are still plenty of selections for those with more muscles than taste, historically, the primary attraction (and I defy anyone to contradict me!) is the underwear layouts. Sort of like Victoria's Secret, except it's Victor this time, and there are no secrets involved. The catalog presents a staggering array of underwear that would be hard to figure out how to put on, even with instructions, but the underwear section seems to be a little smaller (unlike the models), and suddenly we're being subjected to Liberace-like evening wear that no respectable queen would dream of wearing. I can't even venture to imagine who would purchase a satin-and-sequin evening suit in a color called Merlot. On the other hand, the black velvet Mandarin jacket strewn with a celestial pattern of silver glitter would be really beautiful on the right person. Like me. But the best thing is that none of it is very expensive. Who really wants to spend a lot of money on trendy clothes that you'll be ashamed to own in six months? The cut of the clothing is usually extreme (either very tight or very voluminous) and has something for everyone, from the butch biker accessories to the diaphanous lounging outfits, from faux-ruby jewelry to gym clothes, from the seductive to the gaudy. Sounds good to me. After all, I'd rather look at trashy clothes that have no pretense instead of pretentious clothes that are trash. And now that I've opened up that can of worms ...

THE JEAN THING Regarding our little discussion recently about ragged jeans, Calvin Klein has placed himself at the forefront of this movement. His Spring/ Summer 2000 collection features shredded and distressed denim in all its forms, but the real clincher is that the Calvin Klein Company is demanding that all retailers who carry Calvin Klein also carry Calvin Klein's raggedy jeans. No doubt this will give the public the idea that all the buyers love this look, and that they, the public, should invest heavily in this trend. And, on top of that, the public will also, no doubt, pay more for these jeans because of the extra work that goes into making them look old! Clever marketing? Or strong-arming the public? Whatever it is, it's fashion design at its worst and is just about as lazy as a designer can get. Run out of ideas, Calvin?

SPARE US Have you heard of a product called Bed Head? It's some sort of hairdressing that looks like a big Chapstick that you smear into your hair to make you look like you just got out of bed. I'm not going to tell you where to get it, for fear you might consider purchasing it. It's a despicable product, and its manufacturers have reserved for themselves a special place in fashion hell, doomed for all eternity to be hairdressing instructors at a rural beauty college. What's next, fake "sleep" for your eyes so you can look like you just woke up? Plastic drool to hang out of your mouth? And perhaps we can accessorize our new "I Just Got Out of Bed" ensemble with strong blast of morning breath. Lovely.

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