Gentle reader,

Can you believe there was a time when I raced home every Wednesday night to catch America’s Next Top Model?  Okay, try really hard.  Do you believe it now?  You have to admit that Tyra’s butt was too big to fit in a photo shoot but it was fun to see her switch from Classy Tyra to Ghetto Tyra every once in a while.  After a few seasons, though, the backstage antics became predictable when the archetypes of Rebel, Princess, Whiner, and Token Lesbian were repeated season after season.  I also began to realize that these girls are about as likely to have professional modeling careers as my five-foot tall, middle-aged cleaning lady Esperanza, who has an amazing way with bleach but perhaps not so much affinity for the lens.  ANTM and I eventually parted ways.

Imagine my surprise when I got home Friday night after a long day, mixed my signature So-Skinny-You-Should-See-A-Doctor Margarita (tequila, half an Equal, a splash of lemon juice topped off with lime-flavored sparkling water over ice, you’re welcome) and flipped on the TV to see my old Wednesday friend Tyra Banks on the screen.  Not only has she moved to Friday night, but she’s also fired all her old judges and decided to do a College Edition so the judges are new but the bitch who wins will still be too old to get started as a professional model.  And you have to take “College Edition” with a grain of salt because, although one of them is a Harvard student, beauty school and online “college” students certainly outnumber Ivy Leaguers.  It still sounded more upscale, though, until the first challenge turned out to be an impromptu bikini runway show and photo shoot at a daytime frat party.  Ick.

America's Next Top Model

Something I did like about the show was Tyra’s Goth princess look during the intro and that got me thinking about one of this season’s big fashion trends: Dark Glamour!

Of course, you can be pretty sure that most designers are going to include black in their fall/winter collections but there’s a hard edge this season that can traced back to fashion’s It Girl Rooney Mara and the leather-clad character she plays in that Dragon Tattoo movie.  Ann Demeulemeester did a fantastic take on this theme in rich layers of black and other deep colors, even though the wild feather and hair headdresses were a bit distracting. Versace kept the crazy high bangs from the character and mixed in some crosses and Joan of Arc details for decadent glam.

Ann Demeulemeester

Ann Demeulemeester

You can usually count on Rick Owens’ clothes to be dark even in the sunniest of seasons, but his fall show in front of long bands of flames that framed the catwalk seemed especially sinister.  It’s incredible that these things come from the mind of such a nice, happy guy.  The lovely dark Gucci collection steered around Dragon Tattoo territory, too, with its legions of poet-warriors that we touched on with last week’s military theme and the finale of sheer black tulle vampire bride gowns that was one of the most memorable moments of Milan Fashion Week.  Sarah Burton had other ideas at Alexander McQueen, wondering how black Star Trek “tribbles” would look as eveningwear.

Finally, with concept that might be explained as “equestrienne Lisbeth Salander”, it was Givenchy’s Riccardo Tischi who really knocked it out of the park.  Shiny riding boots and jackets layered over a modern take on jodhpurs, geometric jackets and beautiful jewel-encrusted party dresses ruled the dark runway for only a few minutes but you’ll be seeing echoes of the glamor for months to come.

For my favorite and (not so favorite) looks from these shows, check out the slideshow below!

Much love,

xxJames

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