Fake It ‘Til You Make It: Fashion Becky Flaum

Runaway at Reem Acra Show for Fall/Winter 2013 Collection

I’m Becky and I’m a faker. It’s a gift. I think it’s partially due to my need to fit in and partially due to my love for seeing if I can get away with something. But for whatever reason, I love trying to fool people into thinking I’m an expert….on everything. It’s gotten me into a lot of trouble, but it’s also helped in many social situations. It’s a great skill for job interviews, pretentious dinner parties, and dinner with your significant other’s parents. Now I’m passing it on to you.

In honor of September and New York Fashion Week, the inaugural Fake It ‘Til You Make It is on Fashion (cue the David Bowie).

Runaway at Reem Acra Show for Fall/Winter 2013 Collection

Runaway at Reem Acra Show for Fall/Winter 2013 Collection

One of the things to remember about faking a conversation on anything is listening. Sure you want to know what to say if someone asks you something, and you want to be able to follow what is being said, but when all else fails, ask the other person what THEY think and listen. Then repeat.

For example:

Fashionista: The new Balenciaga line reminds me of what Gucci was doing back in 2009 with color blocking.

You: Do you think Balenciaga was actually copying Gucci or is it just inspired by Gucci?

At the same time, I’m also a believer in knowing a bit about your subject, just for safety.

THE BASICS:
Every spring and fall, the fashion community starts a month long cycle of fashion shows that all start in New York City. Most of the main shows take place at Lincoln Center. The rest of the designers rent warehouses, shops, bars and city streets to show their spring line. What is a bit confusing is that in the fall they show SPRING fashions and in the SPRING they show FALL.

Most people in the fashion world regard September as the fashion New Year. That’s when all the magazines come out with their largest issues. Fashion magazines are sort of unofficially ranked in the fashion world, with the highest of the high, the Bible, being “Vogue”. Then “Elle”, “Harper’s Bazaar”, “W”, “Marie Claire” and “Glamour”.

Now what you see at most NYFW shows is ready to wear fashions. That means these are the clothes you will see in boutiques and the upscale department stores like Neiman’s, Barney’s, Bergdorf and Saks. The Paris fashion shows later in the month is where you’ll see the haute couture designs. Couture is the high fashion and these special pieces are only made to order, that’s the stuff that you might see on the red carpet at the Oscars. BUT these are the clothes inspiring the trends that you will see from the boutiques to Old Navy. Now a lot of designers have second or diffusion lines, moderately priced lines inspired by their haute couture. These brands sell at places like Macy’s and more recently J.C. Penney .

Honestly, if you want a great and entertaining way to really learn how the actual industry side of fashion works, Miranda Priestly aka Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” sort of nails it in this speech….I know, I know, but seriously…it’s spot on.

Start at 1:28:

Fashion houses are the big dogs of the fashion world, they’re the names like Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Gucci and Chanel, just to name a few. These houses employ designers as creative directors who sort of guide the look of their line each season. Creative director is just another term for “head designer”. One of the most famous of these would be Tom Ford, who for a very long time was the creative director at Gucci before striking out to create his own line and also direct an Oscar nominated movie. He’s also pretty easy on the eyes.

WHO’S WHO:
This brings us to the players of the fashion world. These are people you can name drop in conversation so you can make people think you know what you are talking about. First things first., fashion isn’t about the models anymore. Sure, there are supermodels, but the days of Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Linda Evangelista are over. The main characters of the fashion world now are the magazine editors and the designers themselves. Here are ten names that could pop up in conversation or that you could slip in to win points with your fashion-loving boss.

Anna Wintour tells us what to wear.

Anna Wintour tells us what to wear.

Anna Wintour: Editor-in-Chief of “Vogue”. She’s notoriously ruthless, cold, and hard. But what goes in her magazine is the final say in fashion.

Grace Coddington: Fiery red headed Creative Director of “Vogue”. A former model, Coddington handles all the artistic aspects of “Vogue” and is usually seated with Wintour at all the shows. You can’t miss that hair!

Karl Lagerfeld: You know this guy. Always in a black suit, slick silver hair, sunglasses. He’s the creative director behind Chanel and Fendi. He designed a line for H&M back in 2004 that was pretty controversial as he didn’t want it made in sizes larger than 10. Funny, since Lagerfeld used to be pretty hefty himself.

Marc Jacobs: American designer.  Marc Jacobs not only has his Marc Jacobs line of women’s wear, but he’s got his diffusion line Marc by Marc Jacobs that sells at department stores world wide.  He’s also been the creative director for Louis Vuitton since 1997 when he created their first ready to wear  line. His own uber famous line was under fire over dog fur earlier this year.

Alexander Wang – He’s the Creative Director of Balenciaga. He gets a shout out by Jay-Z in “Suit and Tie”, so he’s a name to know. Wang also has his own line of women’s wear and handbags.

Joe Zee – Creative Director of “Elle Magazine”. Joe Zee is credited as one of the folks who really brought fashion to the digital age. He hosts a great show on Sundance called All on The Line where he helps designers struggling with their business.

Alexander McQueen - Designer.  He tragically committed suicide last year, but his label lives on. McQueen was the creative director at fashion house Givenchy before creating his own label, Alexander McQueen. Celebs love wearing McQueen, Gaga and Kate Middleton are huge fans. In fact, Sarah Burton at McQueen designed Kate Middleton’s wedding dress.

Tavi Gavinson - Fashion blogger. She’s a wunderkind in the truest sense of the world. Only 17 now, when she was 12 she skyrocketed to fame in the fashion world with her blog Style Rookie. Now she is editor-in-chief of her own magazine, “Rookie”.

Phillip Lim: American designer. He and his business partner run the 3.1 Phillip Lim label of women’s wear, men’s wear and accessories. His signature look is sort of elegance meets a street wear look. Lots of leather accents on elegant dresses and jackets. He’s got a line for Target coming out Sept. 15h.

Erin Fetherston: American designer. She’s also a photographer.   You can find her contemporary line ERIN in stores like Neiman’s, Saks and Bloomies. She was a guest designer for Juicy Couture a few years back. Erin’s signature style is feminine and whimsical making her a favorite amongst celebs like besties Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez.

GLOSSARY:

These are some terms that are used a lot when talking about fashion. Some need no explanation, like “lines”. But others like “arm party” need a little clarification. Here are ten word or phrases that you will see or hear this season and in general.

Arm Party: a collection of baubles and bracelets on your arm…I’d say more than 3 would be considered a party.

Boyfriend: As in sweater or jeans. For jeans they are tighter in the waist, but slouchy everywhere else. For sweaters and shirts, they are slouchier but a little narrow in the hips, like a dude.

Color-blocking:  Tim Gunn talks about it all the time in Project Runway. Blocks of various fabrics sewn together to create an item with a few different solid colors.  You can also do it yourself by pairing a vibrant colored shirt with a solid pair of bright skinny jeans or skirt.

Granny! Runaway at Rebecca Minkoff Show for Fall/Winter 2013 Collection

Granny! Runaway at Rebecca Minkoff Show for Fall/Winter 2013 Collection

Granny: It’s exactly what it says. Think Mary Kate Olsen. Crochet, yarn, thrift shops, crazy patterns.

Hero piece: This is the piece that makes the season, everyone is going to have a version of this particular item. A dress, bag, jackey…etc. This season (Fall 2013) it’s the fashion sweatshirt. This “saves” your wardrobe. It is the hero. It isn’t a staple though, that’s different.

Maj or Major: Coined by fashion heroine (read that as both female hero and highly addictive drug) Rachel Zoe, this is just a way to say that something is incredibly important . Think of it as a substitute for fierce. See also Mega.

Recessionista: A fashionable lady who is not letting a tight budget get in the way of her fashion sense. She sniffs out deals and bargains online and in the stores, but looks like she just spent a million bucks.

Staple: Not to be confused with hero, the staple is classic. It goes with everything and is slightly updated every season. The staple to buy this season? The biker jacket.

Swag: This has nothing to do with fashion and everything to do with parties (not the arm kind). Swag is the free stuff they hand out at the shows and after parties. The bigger the show, the better the swag.

#Voguestgram: This is the ultimate fashion term. It is everything all in one. It is the hashtag sweeping Instagram –pictures of everyone from Anna Wintour herself to adorable puppies reading the September issue of Vogue.

Oscar De la Renta #voguestagram-ing
Oscar De la Renta #voguestagram-ing

TAGLINES:

Lost? Confused? About to walk out the door to your friend’s warehouse party in Soho? Here are five things you can say to get by in a conversation:

“Phillip Lim for Target is going to be major for recessionistas.”

“Did you see Reese’s #Voguestagram?”

“I prefer last season’s color blocking to this season’s print mismatching..it makes me feel so Granny” (or vice versa,  but that’s just me)

Insert friend’s name that insert accessory is the hero of that amazing outfit.”

“Of course Gaga was wearing McQueen.”

FOR MORE INFO:

If this has peaked your interest, and you feel like you might be a fashionista in the making, check out these documentaries, books and websites.

Documentaries: “The September Issue”, “Unzipped”, “Bill Cunningham New York”, “Valentino: The Last Emperor” and “L’Amour”

Books: “The Beautiful Fall” by Alicia Drake, “Fashion A to Z” by Alex Newman & Zakee Shariff and “”Grace” by Grace Coddington Oh! And check out this list of fashion coffee table books
Websites: New York Magazine’s The Cut, The Man RepellerFashionista, Off The Rack and Style Bubble.

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  1. Ditto what was said about McQueen. Also, he was designing his own label before he was made creative director at Givenchy – chances are he wouldn’t of got the job otherwise.

    Also, throughout Spring and Fall fashion weeks, no “haute couture” is shown. This has its separate weeks respectively, shown in Paris, with only a small number of fashion labels permitted to create works under the name. Most pieces shown for the two major fashion weeks which were being discussed are ready-to-wear across all four fashion capitals.

    As you may have noticed, I turn into a fact corrector when it comes to fashion. Sorry!

  2. You just saved me from the ill effects of having worked in an all male office for 7 years…..yay I’m a girl again!

  3. I learned so much!! I feel like now I can have a short conversation about fashion emphasis on the short.

  4. Yes he died in 2010, BUT it feels like just last year. Le Sigh. :( What a loss…..McQueen forever….

  5. Alexander McQueen actually died in 2010 and Sarah Burton is the creative director. Yay Fashion Week!

  6. So basically I’m going to learn how to survive every awkward phase of life through your teachings :) This is awesome, can’t wait to read more!!!!!

  7. Awesome! That pretty much sums it up! Happy Fashion Week everybody! #NYFW

  8. Her name is Tavi Gevinson, not Gavinson