TUTTLE MODE

by James Tuttle

Gentle reader,

Scrolling down the cable lineup over the weekend, I ran across something called Duck Dynasty on A&E and since they were airing six episodes back to back I thought it must be something really good.  I also had in mind the recurring duck motif in the recent fall collections, from the Asian-inspired duck prints at Dries Van Noten and understated duck’s head details at Burberry Prorsum to duck hunting themes at Dior Homme.

About ten seconds in, I realized that what happens on this show has nothing to do with the catwalks of Paris and Milan, but I was so mesmerized by the long, frizzy ZZ Top beards on the screen that it was still a couple of minutes before I figured out what the hell was going on.

Not bin Laden

Going back to the opening credits, I discovered that this was the saga of a Louisiana family that has made handmade duck callers into a multi-million dollar business.  The Robertsons might look like total hillbillies but they live in mansions that make the ones on the Real Housewives franchise look like guesthouses.  On the grounds of one of these expansive estates, Duck Commander CEO Willie and his brother Jase hit golf balls behind the house as their crazy father Phil and crazier uncle Si shoot at them like clay pigeons.  I’m sure that this is not entirely legal even in suburban Louisiana and the images of mangled golf balls dropping to the grass were a bit silly but, hey, they get extra points for sports multitasking.

“Blasted” golf balls.

The friendly driving range banter sparks a debate between fiercely competitive siblings Willie and Jase, who decide to blow off their kids’ Career Day at school and hit the local country club for some one hundred dollar-a-hole action.  If that seems a little highbrow for these guys, you have to see them on the course with their beards blowing in the wind and their bellies testing the strength of their polo shirts.

They’ve recruited old codgers Phil and Si to replace them at the school and the old men arrive in black face paint and head-to-toe camouflage hunting gear that I think I can actually smell through the TV.  You’d think it couldn’t get any better than Uncle Si sitting down and traumatizing the kindergartners with stories of the atrocities of the Vietnam War until Phil demonstrates how to gut a freshly dead duck in a junior high science class.

This shirking of duty puts Willie in the doghouse with his wife until Jase recruits their dad and uncle to revisit the country club pond in the middle of the night to poach all the frogs he saw while playing golf earlier that day.  Of course, Willie has to come bail them out, and his relatives accuse him of going over to the dark side until he has a Hillbilly Moment while driving through the fields and gets stuck in the mud.  Hip waders and long beards isn’t really my thing but I have to give these guys props for fearlessly mixing prints, even though one of those prints is usually camouflage.

Birds of a feather.

There may not have been a single duck anywhere near the Valentino collection for spring 2012, but it’s been on my mind since their Beverly Hills flagship opened last week so I popped in yesterday to get a closer look.  The space was designed by British architect David Chipperfield in a new Valentino boutique concept that reinterprets the intimate spaces of an Italian palazzo with luxe finishes like grey leather walls, black and white terrazzo marble floors and carved American walnut fixtures.

Valentino boutique salon.

Shielded from the Rodeo Drive entrance, small accessories rooms and a shoe salon make up the narrow ground floor.  The only garments downstairs belonged to the capsule collection by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Picciolo, who have done an admirable job of carrying on the legacy of this famed house, to commemorate its fiftieth anniversary.  Inspired by Mr. Valentino’s animal prints in the Sixties and Seventies, these looks are only available in the U.S. at the Beverly Hills location but they don’t really hold a candle to the rest of this season’s offering.

The upper floor, reached by a dark spiral carved wood staircase, is lighter and airier but still intimate with enough separate spaces to merchandise the extensive collection without it seeming too schizophrenic.  There were some lovely knits and other things, but the delicate lace pieces that hung throughout the space were the most intriguing.

Valentino S/S 2012 collection. (Ph: D. Turbeville)

Of course, there were the gowns that everyone remembers from the show but some of the short, sheer lace dresses really stood out in the boutique as being younger and more fun, and the stiff, sheer lace mutton-sleeve blouses will make amazing cocktail looks.  I remember reading somewhere that this collection was easy and comfortable, but I have to say I didn’t really see much that you could throw on to pick the kids up from school.

If you missed the grand opening party of mostly C-List celebrities and old ladies like I did, you should probably consider yourself lucky.  Don’t let that stop you from paying the shop at 324 N. Rodeo Drive a visit, though.  You won’t find a great new pair of jeans but it’s a lovely trip through a quiet, lacey fantasyland and you’re in luck if you need something kick ass for the red carpet.

Much love,

xxJames