Don't Get Madge, Get Even


by James Tuttle @TuttleMode

Gentle reader,

If you’re like me, you’ve been so busy this past week that even RuPaul’s Drag Race sits unwatched on your DVR.  There was no way I was going to miss one of the biggest events in television history on Sunday, though.  After months of anticipation, no-fly zones over Indianapolis and nationwide stockpiling of chicken wings and tortilla chips, Madonna Bowl finally arrived!

Former footballer Seth Kuhlmann did not play in Sunday's game. Unfortunately. (Photo: Rick Day)

Scott and I popped over to our friends Michael and Joel’s Madonna Bowl party, which they kept referring to as a “Super Bowl” party, late in the afternoon.  We may have missed most of the first half of the football game that they were playing as a lead-in to the performance, but we were comfortably seated with a stiff cocktail when an army of guys dressed like Roman gladiators in Calvin Klein underwear led an enormous chariot onto the field. 

In a dramatic reenactment of Elizabeth Taylor’s 1963’s epic Cleopatra, the huge golden fronds parted to reveal Her Madgesty in a glittering gold sequined cape by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy Couture and a gold and crystal headdress by Philip Treacy.  I think it’s interesting how Lady Gaga can make, say, a black-and-white music video and Madonna fans lose their shit, claiming that she stole it all from “Express Yourself,” but Madge can copy the most famously excessive scene in movie history and no one bats a beaded eyelash.

As butch as a gay porn set... I mean, frat party: gladiators backstage.

Within seconds, that cape that took twenty women weeks to adorn by hand with beads, sequins and metal pieces was tossed aside for the “Vogue” number to reveal a sexy but age-appropriate short-sleeved black dress and exquisitely hand-studded and hand-embroidered black python belt with detachable straps that evoked the Roman pteruges, or armored skirt.  The black over-the-knee Miu Miu boots with gold details coordinated so well that they seemed designed for the ensemble.

She got rid of the headdress for the “Music” segment, but replaced it with some break-dancers and a guy with a ginger Afro wearing a white dress, who bounced weirdly on a tightrope in the show’s most WTF moment.  I personally think she should have held on to the hat instead.  Finally, LMFAO showed up and they all did a “shuffling” routine to the crowd’s obvious delight.

Girls in red and white fringed go-go outfits then stormed the stage and, with the straps gone from the belt, Madonna was now the perfect fifty-three year-old Greco-Roman cheerleader for her new single “Give Me All Your Luvin’.”  The video for this song came out last week and it was so bad that, at first, I thought it was a parody.  Luckily, this performance was full of fun and energy and more smiles than I’ve ever seen on Madonna.

The final costume, also from Givenchy Couture, was a black long-sleeved coatdress that was hand-beaded with black sequins and black seed pearls.  When Cee Lo Green showed up in a similarly shiny black choir robe over his big belly for “Like a Prayer”, I was reminded of the ominous, liquid-crystal looks from Givenchy Couture Spring 2012.  Then I thought, “Oh, shit!  I hope they didn’t have to do all that by hand!”

Once the audience had been adequately “gayed”, the football game came back on and I was struck by how terrible the New York Giants’ uniforms were.  Not only were the bleak whites and tight silhouettes unflattering to most of the hefty African-American men on the field, but the armholes on their jerseys were fucking terrible.  I obviously had to root for the Patriots after that but, unfortunately, better armholes do not a football game win.

With all the focus on advertising at each commercial break during this whole thing, it was interesting to see that two distinct themes emerged:  Beer and Cars.  What the hell happened to fashion?  I mean, I wasn’t expecting Donatella Versace to pop up on the screen (God forbid!) and tell us about her spring collection but what are they expecting all these people to be wearing while they’re drinking their beer and driving their cars, hopefully not in that order.  Fear not because I’ve got a wrap-up of the Spring 2012 fashion ad campaigns for you right here!

First off, Mert and Marcus’ campaign for Gucci mirrored the dark, glamorous hair and makeup from the runway show but poor Abbey Lee Kershaw looks like a skeletal corpse crawling out of the grave to feed on unsuspecting passersby.  Burberry is all about super-cool skinny white people, too, but ones I might actually hang out with.  I also wouldn’t mind keeping company with the cool, mellow, beautiful hippies in their colorful clothes at Etro and I think that’s a good message for an ad campaign to give:  “I might actually talk to these people.”

Mert and Marcus for Gucci.

Dolce and Gabbana’s ads are more about a feeling of fun, with models mixing with laughing, celebrating southern Italian families.  You actually have to look a little bit for the featured clothes.  Bally is another happy one, with pretty people like Miranda Kerr on an Alpine terrace with smiles that silently scream, “Look at this bag!”

The Michael Kors ads by Mario Testino are quite intriguing, with beautiful people on safari wearing a lot of bronzer.  Like, a lot.  I get the unsettling impression that it’s a guy with a hot mom or a young aunt, but they never seem like a couple.  Also shaky on the age-appropriateness is Giorgio Armani with simple straightforward photos of classic clothes on beautiful cropped-haired Milou Van Groesen.  The only problem is that she looks like she’s wearing her mother’s stuff.

Testino for Kors.

Black-and-white photos are uncommon this season but two campaigns used them well.  Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld photographed girls in light, airy dresses on gymnastics equipment.  It’s a bit moody but the lightness and simplicity made me want to give the collection another chance.  Emporio Armani has the feel of vintage photographs of lovely girls in China and also incorporates some Asian models, which is smart for chasing those yuan and I expect to see this from more designers in the near future.  Almost in this category are Louis Vuitton ads, which are so light and pastel that you need sunglasses to look at them, but the ice cream that mirrors the ice cream colors is a whimsical and welcome touch.

Lagerfeld for Chanel.

Some of the French houses are especially puzzling.  Intentionally unflattering snapshots of messy girls in messy surroundings was the Balenciaga idea this season.  I get the “grunge” thing and the “high-low” thing but these girls don’t look good and the clothes don’t look good, so what’s the point?  The YSL ads seem what the French call jolie-laide, which means pretty and ugly at once, but the styling is clearly a tribute to Saint-Laurent’s muse Loulou de la Falaise so I guess we have to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Over at Givenchy, they’re giving us Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen and hot shirtless guys, so what could go wrong?  Well, Gisele looks more butch than the dudes, for starters.  And what’s with that outfit?

Meisel for Prada

I’ll have some dissent on this one, but I really dislike Steven Meisel’s tough-as-nails Prada campaign.  This makes sense because I also didn’t like the collection, but I’m sure the bright, garish colors will attract attention and the 1950s gas station background will explain the motif if you didn’t get it already.

At the other end of the spectrum for me is the great Valentino campaign shot by Deborah Turbeville. The images of beautiful girls in long, lean dresses milling around a Mexican stone ruin quietly remind us that the collection was inspired by 1920s Mexico without being too literal.  The hair and makeup styling from the runway show tie the whole thing together without detracting and, in the end, it’s all about a peaceful mood and those great clothes.  What more could you want?

Much love,


Comments: 11

  • Diane Pernet February 9, 201212:35 am

    loved it, always makes me smile, armholes and all. xxx

    • James Tuttle February 9, 201210:40 pm

      Diane! Thank you, thank you. I love that you’re smiling.

  • oldancestor February 9, 20129:03 pm

    Entertaining, as usual, Mr. Tuttle. I LOL’d at your description of the Giants’ uniform.

    You words muct be sinking in. Whenever I read the captions under red carpet photos, I recognize all the brands. I used to think Vera Wang was the only person who made clothes for famous people, but I know better now. If only I could stop shopping at Target and Kohls.

    • James Tuttle February 9, 201210:43 pm

      Thanks, Eric. With the way things are going, I’m sure Vera Wang will be doing a line for Target in no time. Let me know how those wedding gowns fit!

  • Pure Film Creative February 9, 20129:33 pm

    I really, really don’t get Lagerfeld. Never have, never will. Not sure I get Madonna, either.

    • James Tuttle February 9, 201210:54 pm

      I think Lagerfeld does some spectacularly beautiful things and some really awkward, unattractive things but I have to hand it to him; at least he’s not afraid to try things. Maybe the same goes for Madonna?

  • M.Fay February 9, 20129:35 pm

    Wow! What a great article. Even though it will come as a shocker, I’m loving Chanel’s recent ads the best. Abbey Lee, poor thing. Step into the spotlight darling (she is my favorite forever). She can certainly pose better than that! xo

  • James Tuttle February 9, 201210:59 pm

    Thanks, my dear! I really like the Chanel ads, too. They’re kind of dark and moody but also light and peaceful, right?
    And Abbey Lee, and the Gucci ads in general this season, are more an advertisement for the makeup and Deco props than the clothes. What a shame; it was a stellar collection.

  • Margot Montaigne February 10, 20128:25 pm

    WOW James!! Your BEST article in a while!! My only suggestion would be to put some one like SETH at the end!! Its kind of hard to focus on Madonna or fashion, when one finds oneself constantly scrolling upward:-)
    Great coverage of the Madonna extravaganza–i was wondering where all that fabulous drag came from. Interesting how she dropped the mid-Atlantic accent and seemed to be more authentic than I’ve seen her in ages.–well done, Madge!
    Great fashion coverage and insight! I LOVED the Valentino pieces, and would crack myself down to a size 4 by Memorial Day, if I thought I could get my hands on the gown the exquisite Asian girl is wearing. ( of course, if I really “cracked” myself down to a size 4 I’d probably be able to AFFORD it by Memorial Day :-)
    PS You may not have noticed, but it was a REALLY exciting game, and everyone here was thrilled that the Giants won!!

  • James Tuttle February 10, 20129:06 pm

    Hi, darling Margot! Thanks so much! I’m glad you liked this week’s stuff. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I always put the “hot guy who doesn’t have anything really to do with this article” picture at the top because it makes people click on the article.
    I’m glad you liked the fashion angle on the Madonna show. That medley was all over the place but I think she worked it like never before. Also, the Valentino is lovely but, if you spent all your money on crack, you wouldn’t be able to afford the dress!
    I did actually enjoy the game but I was rooting for the Patriots because the Giants’ uniforms were horrid and Tom Brady is so much better looking.
    Love to you,

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