Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lacoste Joins Save Your Logo Campaign

According to Strategy Magazine, Lacoste recently made a 1.5 million Euro pledge to join the Save Your Logo campaign. This initiative—launched in late 2008 by the World Environment Fund (WEF), the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)—encourages companies to contribute to the preservation of our planet's biodiversity by assisting in the protection of the animal or species that represents their brand. As quoted in Yahoo! News, at the launch of the campaign, France's Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo announced: "Companies that have profited from the positive image of these animals now have a chance to show their recognition." The IUCN reports that at least one bird out of eight, 25 percent of mammals and one out of every three amphibians are threatened with extinction.

Lacoste has been working with the founding organizations to develop projects for a three-year crusade to protect fifteen species of crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gavials. The Paris-based company is the first international brand to join the Save Your Logo campaign as well as the first apparel company to feature a brand badge—René Lacoste chose the crocodile as his emblem in 1927. Michel Lacoste, chairman of the board of Lacoste, explained: "We feel that any company should behave as citizens of the world, and this goes farther than just looking after alligators."

Hopefully Lacoste's participation will encourage other animal-branded companies to do the same—there are certainly many such examples: Puma, Jaguar, American Eagle, Moosehead Breweries, Alexander Keith's with its deer, Peugeot and MGM with their lions, Esso with its tiger, Airness with its panther, and perhaps even Kelloggs' Froot Loops with its toucan!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Big Fashion Sale by Quebec Designers: La Grande Braderie de mode québécoise 2009

As much as I love Toronto, this sale definitely makes me wish I lived in Montréal!

La Grande braderie de mode québécoise for Spring 2009 will be held from Thursday, April 16th to Sunday, April 19th at Marché Bonsecours, 350 St-Paul Street East in Old Montréal. The annual fashion sale of the top 50 Quebec fashion designers features samples and inventory-surplus womenswear, menswear, kidswear, handbags, hats, jewellery and accessories all marked at 50% to 80% off. Designers include Nevik, Muse, Dubuc Style, Nadya Toto, Marie Saint-Pierre, Shan, Envers, Michel Desjardins, Jean Airoldi, Sheila Dassin, Silikon, Rudsak, Lili-les-bains, Sylvie Germain, Geneviève Dostaler, Bodybag, Old River, Dino Gaspari. Visit the Braderie website for more information on the sale.

My favourite participant at the Braderie is Mackage, who sent me the below invitation to the VIP night on Wednesday, April 15th. Click on the image to get an enlarged version that you can print out and present at the event to be admitted!

First Ever Zac Posen Ad Published in Fanzine137

According to Women's Wear Daily, Zac Posen has accepted an offer by publisher Luis Venegas to create a double spread print advertisement for the Spain-based international indie fashion magazine Fanzine137. For the campaign, Posen himself directed the photoshoot in December at his friend Lorraine Kirke’s house. He enlisted photographer Ellen von Unwerth, stylist and friend Christopher Niquet and model Alexandra Tomlinson—in the ad she wears one of Posen's spring leopard-kiss print powder pink dresses and holds a cat. The resulting image—Posen's first ad ever—appears in the spring-summer issue of the magazine.

The New York-based fashion designer said he was inspired by Ava Gardner in the movie "The Barefoot Contessa" and classic Fifties Revlon advertising. Posen explained, "The hardest part was selecting the best image. You want something that grabs the attention on the page and something that is simple, direct and cohesive. I wanted it to be pure and true to yourself and to your customer."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Google Street View To Capture Canada's Streets

Looking up Google's Headquarters in Mountain View, Santa Clara, California will
bring up Street Views of Google employees waving, doing handstands and generally
hamming it up for the camera on both Amphitheatre Parkway and Charleston Road.

According to the Globe and Mail and the CBC, Google will soon be bringing its cameras to Canada's public roads to document our cities with its popular Street View application. Street View is available through Google's map applications and provides a "pedestrian's-eye view" of major cities by projecting images captured at street level onto the corresponding road in the virtual map.

Over the coming weeks, employees of Google will be photographing 11 of Canada's largest cities: Halifax, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Quebec City, Saint John, Saskatoon, Toronto and Vancouver. The service is already available in cities of the United States, Great Britain, Spain, Australia, Japan, France, Italy and a host of other countries around the world. In announcing the Canadian version, the company said, "Using Street View, users can preview holiday accommodation, find meeting spots, explore neighbourhoods and properties, and look up driving directions."

Google has enacted a number of privacy measures for the service and consulted with federal and provincial privacy commissioners in advance of the campaign to photograph Canadian streets. Licence plates and people's faces are automatically blurred out and users can put in requests to remove offensive images. However these types of images have also become part of a recently popular game involving a search for strange happenings captured on Street View. There are even web sites dedicated to finding such sightings, such as people walking in or out of adult stores and clubs, accidentally documented crimes in progress or street fights, and people generally being caught in a range of embarrassing situations.

The Diane von Furstenberg boutique in New York City's Meatpacking District.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

H&M Spring 2009: Visually Stunning and Surreal Campaign Commercial

It is rare that I find a television ad that really makes a strong (and positive) impression on me. But I was incredibly taken with H&M's new Spring 2009 campaign spot. Besides being visually stunning—paralleling the aesthetic of the print campaign with its modern white mise-en-scene and bright red accents—the commercials feature a unique and attention-grabbing scenario with actors wearing clothes from the Spring 2009 collection.

The ads—compiled below in a video made available via YouTube—are staged as a series of surreal vignettes involving model Eva Herzigova and actor/director Vincent Gallo. The main narrative of the fun and whimsical yet nightmarish campaign is the perpetual frustration of Herzigova and Gallo's vain attempts to reach each other—a very Freudian premise indeed. The events take place in a veritable funhouse environment in which their pursuit of each other is constantly thwarted by conveyer belts set into the floor, a paradoxical ladder that leads only back to the same room, a narrow hallway replete with red doors that cannot logically or spatially exist, and a staircase that ends abruptly in space. Several of the short scenes feature oversized objects (a telephone, a spool of thread) or people (Herzigova) in a stark white room that evoke Surrealist artist René Magritte's paintings of gigantic objects in claustrophobic spaces, such as Le Tombeau de Lutteurs from 1960. The final spot shows a surreal city of distorted perspective, reminiscent of the impossible scenarios envisioned by the graphic artist M.C. Escher such as "Prentententoonstelling" (or "The Print Gallery"), a mathematically-inspired print from 1956.

The commercials were directed by Johan Renck, a Swedish musician and music video director who has worked with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Madonna, New Order and Beyoncé. The appropriately haunting yet seductive soundtrack comes from the song "I've Seen That Face Before" sung by Swedish vocalist Camilla Henemark. The accordian-laden tango sound was composed by none other than Barry Reynolds and Astor Piazzolla, the renowned Argentine tango composer and bandoneón player.

Meet Jewellery Designer Alexis Bittar at Holt Renfrew

From 1:00pm to 6:00pm on Saturday, April 4, 2009, famed jewellery designer Alexis Bittar will be making a personal appearance at Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street in Toronto. Also, with a minimum purchase of $250.00 in Alexis Bittar jewellery, as a gift you'll receive an Alexis Bittar geometric gloss bangle (while supplies last, of course).

Bittar has designed couture and costume jewellery for just over two decades, working with fine materials as well as stainless steel, lucite, crystal and Italian glass. His first line of jewellery, launched in 1988, featured depression-era glass from the 1920s with tiny hand-cut chandelier parts. His baubles have been worn by celebrities and fashion insiders alike and he has worked with a host of designers and lab
els like Patricia Field, Michael Kors, Tuleh, Burberry and Alex & Lee.

Check out Holt Renfrew's website for more information and
a short Q&A with the designer himself!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Matthew Williamson for H&M Collection Video

On the heels of new images surfacing of the clothes, H&M has released a video—made available here via YouTube—of Matthew Williamson discussing his forthcoming designer capsule collection for H&M. The video allows a glimpse at several key looks from the line before the official preview launches on the H&M website. Williamson explains that the inspiration behind the collection was the chance to look back at his work from the past decade or so on his own designer label and consider the pieces he felt were special and memorable and representative of his strengths as a designer. The video also features H&M's creative advisor Margareta van den Bosch talking about the line.

Jason Wu to Launch Footwear and Makeup Collections

According to British Vogue, Michelle Obama favourite Jason Wu—the Manhattan-based fashion designer who spent some of his youth in Vancouver—announced plans to launch makeup and footwear collections within the next two seasons and may eventually branch out into menswear. Grazia also reported that the 26-year-old designer was keeping his collaborators a secret thus far, but he hinted that he would not be working with shoe designer Manolo Blahnik—who designed the shoes for Wu's Fall/Winter 2009 collection—because he believes it is important that the lines are commercial ranges.

Meanwhile, New York Magazine's The Cut informs that Wu has received various offers for book deals and a reality-TV show since Obama wore a dress of his design at the inauguration. However he has turned them down to focus on expanding his signature label.

Of his celebrated womenswear collections, Wu told British Vogue, "I want to design clothes that real, sophisticated, confident women can wear now but that will still be beautiful in years to come. Everything these days is so disposable - not just fashion, everything - I want my designs to last." Above is one of my favourite looks from Jason Wu's Fall/Winter 2009 collection, images of which can be viewed on his website www.jasonwustudio.com.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Toronto's LG Fashion Week Recap: Joeffer Caoc

Joeffer Caoc presented a very structured and futuristic-looking collection at Toronto's LG Fashion Week on day two: March 17, 2009. The palette was largely dark metallic and matte neutrals, in shades of black, grey, pewter, bronze and gold, accented with deep reds and blues and a paisley print. There was also lots of texture: matte, sheen, tweed, quilting, patent, ruching and sheer elements. The silhouette was overwhelmingly hourglass, with waists accentuated by belts, ties and seaming, shoulders emphasized with sharp tailoring as well as puff- and cap-sleeves, pencil skirts and wide cropped trousers. All looks were paired with black patent knee-high peep-toe boots—this is a trend I personally cannot comprehend and, in any case, I would have appreciated a little variation. My favourite pieces include a charcoal slouchy boiled wool coat with cropped sleeves and tie-waist, a simple black satin crew-neck sleeveness sheath dress cinched at the waist by a black patent belt (perfect LBD), and a two-toned charcoal and gold sheath dress with a sculptural bodice and neckline, held up by very thin straps. And I also loved the metallic bronze one-shoulder frock with ruched seams!

Watch Joeffer Caoc's Fall 2009 runway video from blogTO:

You can also view FASHION Magazine's video of the show and interview with Joeffer Caoc.

Audrey Tautou To Star In Chanel Biopic & Fragrance Ad

Audrey Tautou is set to star in the forthcoming biopic of the legendary French couturière Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. The film, "Coco Avant Chanel," will be released in France on April 22 but so far the 2009 North American release has not yet been announced. The French-language trailer, made available here through YouTube, reveals that the movie focuses on the designer's childhood and early womanhood, the years preceding her rise to sartorial fame and the people and events that made her who she was—hence the title, translated as "Coco Before Chanel."

Audrey Tautou is the natural choice for the lead role, as Women's Wear Daily reported last year that she would star in a new mini feature commercial for the fashion house's signature fragrance Chanel No. 5. According to recent reports from Elle UK, the film will chart the story of Audrey and a mystery man who keep missing each other on a journey from Paris to Istanbul on the Orient Express. The 2 minute 25 second spot is directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who worked with Tautou in the Oscar-nominated film Amélie.

Banana Republic To Open Accessories Concept Store

Women's Wear Daily reported yesterday that Edition by Banana Republic—a new 1,400-square-foot accessories, shoes and handbag retail concept store—will open on May 15, 2009 at the Westfield Mall in San Francisco. The pieces will be made of materials like Italian leather for handbags and semiprecious stones for jewelry. The accessories created for Edition will be part of a limited run and won't be sold online or at any other Banana Republic stores. The store will be merchandised differently than other stores to present a sophisticated, feminine and residential image and feel—the product will mainly be shown on open display tables.

The idea behind the launch—in these spendthrift times, women who may be reluctant to spend hundreds of dollars on fashion will be more inclined to purchase a less expensive necklace or clutch. According to Jack Calhoun, president of Banana Republic, “For our customers today, affordability is paramount and being fashionable is always in style. Edition is the perfect place for women to update their wardrobe with exquisite, limited edition and affordable accessories, especially in today’s economy.”

The location will likely serve to test the new retail concept, potentially making way for more of them in the future though no plans have as yet been made. Banana Republic's previous concept outing featured the limited edition BR Monogram collection and opened as a stand-alone store on Bleecker Street in Manhattan—however no other Monogram locations have opened to date. The recession has had an impact on the retailer, as their North American sales fell by 22 percent in January.

Tiffany & Co. To Open a Second Toronto Location

According to a press release from Tiffany & Co., the luxury jeweller will open a second location in Toronto at Yorkdale Shopping Centre (Dufferin Street & Highway 401)—the first and only boutique in the city, until now, is located at 85 Bloor Street West. The release describes the new store as having a "5-foot-high façade with a Mondrian-like stone pattern, Black Zimbabwe marble arch, and Atlas Clock above the entrance. Tiffany's iconic, deco-inspired stainless steel doors will lead to a spacious interior of elegant jewelry salons with gleaming stainless steel showcases, mottled Makore wood and custom furnishings and wall coverings." It will include exclusive Tiffany & Co. collections such as engagement rings, statement jewels, fine and sterling silver jewelry, watches, gifts, accessories, and the designs of Elsa Peretti, Paloma Picasso, Jean Schlumberger and Frank Gehry.

On the subject of the spring 2009 launch, Beth O. Canavan, executive vice president of Tiffany & Co., explained that "Tiffany is well established in Toronto and it gives us great pleasure to provide our growing number of customers with the convenience of shopping in the ideally located Yorkdale. With its recent expansion and elegant upgrade, the centre presents the perfect atmosphere for us to serve everyone with the superior quality, craftsmanship and design excellence that are synonymous with Tiffany & Co."

The new addition comes despite recent news from Women's Wear Daily that Tiffany & Co. reported a 75.6 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings and a "tepid" sales outlook. New York Magazine's The Cut noted that the jeweler—among other companies like Versace and Abercrombie & Fitch—is refusing to lower prices in order to preserve the luxury brand's integrity, despite the rollbacks being unveiled by competitors.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Toronto's LG Fashion Week Recap: David Dixon

Toronto's LG Fashion Week ended this past weekend. David Dixon presented a double bill on the first day—Monday, March 16—that included his own Fall 2009 collection as well as a fun Barbie capsule collection that will be sold at the Bay in the fall.

For his Fall 2009 line, Dixon presented an elegant collection that featured a sombre palette of greys and blacks accented with raspberry and ivory, classic 50s sheath and A-line silhouettes, wide leg cropped trousers, bold jewellery, wide belts, and lots of sheen, texture, organza and feathers and—somewhat out of place—edgy patent-like technofabrics. I particularly loved the sheath dresses with architectural pleats, ruffles and folds, the jackets with sharp shoulders and nipped waists, and the mirrored bib necklaces. Pretty, structured and sophisticated.

With the Barbie collection, Dixon adhered to a largely black and—naturally—Barbie-pink colour scheme with emphasis on taffeta sheen, girly chiffon, 60s inspired houndstooth and tiered ruffles and ribbons. He mixed bold graphic prints with florals, both in classic black and white, and colourful rosecentric madras plaid. Black A-line party dresses were cinched at the waist with candy-pink patent belts and accessorized with slouchy long finger-less gloves and scarves. Cute, wearable and not overly kitschy.

Watch David Dixon's Fall 2009 and Barbie Collection runway videos from blogTO:

You can also check out FASHION Magazine's runway video and interview with David Dixon.

Downsizing Collections: Fall 2009 Runways

According to New York Magazine, the fall 2009 collections shown recently were noticeably abbreviated due to the effects of the current global economic situation. Designers can no longer afford the luxury of parading pieces down the runway that will not sell. Many designers—though not all—are cutting down the number of looks presented in their fashion week shows. Betsey Johnson, for instance, showed only 25 looks this time around, as opposed to 51 looks for spring 2009, 60 for fall 2008 and 41 for spring 2008. She told the Times, "Everything shown will actually hit stores... unlike bigger runway shows where some looks weren't available for sale." Other examples comparing spring 2009 to fall 2009: Narciso Rodriguez cut his collection by 9 looks, Oscar de la Renta and Matthew Williamson each lost 11, John Galliano dropped 17, Giorgio Armani cut 20 and Emporio Armani lost 23 looks.

For a rundown of the top twelve downsized shows this season, check out the article from New York Magazine's The Cut.

Ladies' Man: Alber Elbaz for Lanvin

Last week, The New Yorker profiled Alber Elbaz, the designer of the oldest surviving French fashion house Lanvin.

What I love about Elbaz's designs for Lanvin is his insistence on soignée elegance with a dash of eccentricity and whimsy. Ariel Levy writes that women today want to look "sophisticated and attractive, but not flashy or aggressively sexy" and Lanvin caters to that taste. This is hardly the time for conspicuous consumption—it isn't that Lanvin's clothes are more moderately priced than other designers, but Elbaz's aesthetic is one of a quiet or sedate
chic, rather than ferociously or outrageously hip. He describes his work as "classic with a twist"—he does not wish to define trends, rather he wants his designs to be timeless. Levy says that this look is especially fashionable right now: "an elegance that reassuringly summons the past but with some funkiness around the edges that acknowledges our weird present." While many designers seek to make women appear thinner or prettier, Levy says that Elbaz has the ability to make women seem more interesting. Indeed, in a foreward to the Rizzoli coffee table book "Lanvin," Elbaz writes, "The highest compliment a woman can receive is 'My God, she looks smart!' not that 'she's sexy.'" This sensibility is reminiscent of the time in which Jeanne Lanvin herself was working—when The New Woman of the early twentieth century became more self-reliant and the emphasis was on chic rather than prettiness, a self-made sophistication through sartorial choice rather than an innate physical beauty with which one is born. Like Elbaz, Lanvin endeavoured to design clothes that transcended seasonal trends, that would not quickly go out of style but instead could be worn by women throughout their lives. As Coco Chanel once said, "It's not about what's new, it's about what's good."

For a slideshow of Lanvin images (including a collection of precious "Miss Lanvin" porcelain dolls) narrated by Ariel Levy,
go the The New Yorker's website.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

StyleCaster.com: The Next Generation of Fashion?

Fashion-related conduits like broadsheets and glossy magazines may soon be a thing of the past, as print media seems destined for a future on the internet. According to W Magazine, the next generation of fashion (or "Fashion 3.0") may well be StyleCaster.com. StyleCaster combines both styled content (e.g. a magazine shoot or fashion editorial) and social networking (e.g. Facebook or MySpace) and operates on software that purports to tailor the site's content to the user's personal tastes. Although the success of the site's formula is still being weighed, it's mix of "big money, big talk and big ideas" has had an influence on corporate bigwigs and fashion insiders alike. StyleCaster is privately financed by Dan Gilbert—the chairman and founder of Quicken Loans and majority owner of NBA's Cleveland Cavailiers—while the company's CEO, Ari Goldberg, is formerly of LeBron James' company LRMR Marketing and has been engaged in outreach targeting editors, store owners and designers. Confirmed contributors include Shopbop fashion director Kate Ciepluch, stylist Annabel Tollman and designer Abigail Lorick, whose fashions have been featured on the television show Gossip Girl. Although StyleCaster.com is still in private beta testing, subscribers to Wmagazine.com can participate. Click for details.

Holt Renfrew Bloor Street's Contemporary Floor Redesign

Holt Renfrew has unveiled a newly redesigned fashion-forward women's contemporary floor (level 3) at their flagship location at 50 Bloor Street West in Toronto.

Holt's Creative Director John Gerhardt was influenced by an increasing desire for optimism in a time of economic decline: "It's interesting how people respond to colour, particularly bold colours... It's amazing how colour transforms our mood." Gerhardt drew inspiration from a wide array of references to create a fresh, new look he calls "bold new world": "There is a strong nod to the '80s in our redesign, with 'New Wave' and Japanese influences as well as references to Artists such as Dan Flavin, Shepard Fairey and Barbara Kruger, infused with a current nod to fashion's new-found fascination with Pantone primaries."

According to Barbara Atkin, Vice President, Fashion Direction for Holt Renfrew, the brand "continues to surprise and delight our customers, and our environments are a great medium to engage... Our new contemporary space makes our fashions more visible, invites our customers to experience elements of whimsy and the unexpected and showcases the accessibility of our great range of contemporary labels, such as Alexander Wang, Elizabeth and James, Opening Ceremony, rag & bone, and 3.1 phillip lim."

From now until the end of May, visit the women's contemporary floor in the Toronto Bloor Street, Montreal and Vancouver locations of Holt Renfrew for a dynamic mix of new fashions and activities ranging from DJs to graffiti artists.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Carine Roitfeld Revealed on CNN

This month CNN: Revealed features one of the most chic and influential women in the world of fashion, Paris Vogue Editor in Chief Carine Roitfeld.

In the segment, Roitfeld dared to utter the "F" word so rarely heard in the elite world of high fashion: Frugal. Although she doesn't want the quality of fashion and her publication to suffer, she is keenly aware of the reality of the global recession and how the industry can cope in a positive way—in times of recession, challenges can be overcome with creativity and innovation instead of excessive funding. According to Roitfeld, "I think we need to become more frugal. Not on quality, just on organization. Some things got too far away. There were people who were flying private jets -- we need to go back to reality. I don't want to take the money out of the beauty of the picture, I don't want to change the paper of the magazine, I don't want to change the materials, but we can do it another way. When it's more difficult you have to be more creative."

CNN: Revealed accompanies Roitfeld to the haute couture shows in Paris, follows her to the U.S. for New York Fashion Week, speaks to her children about growing up with a style icon, and goes behind the scenes at a Vogue photo shoot where Roitfeld discusses her plans for the future.

Watch the videos here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

20% Off at Club Monaco with Student I.D.

As of several months ago, Club Monaco in Canada and the U.S. are offering an extra 20% off regular-priced and sale merchandise when you present valid college or university student identification. And if you read the fine print, you will notice that this promotion is also valid for professors.

In times of recession, retailers have begun to curtail some of their more relaxed return policies. Club Monaco has joined the ranks of French Connection UK in making all sale items final sale. Meanwhile, Banana Republic (as well as sister companies The Gap and Old Navy) are reducing their return policy time frame from 90 days to 30 days. This is reasonable of course, but final sale items leave no room for buyers remorse.

Arch Appeal

Barely a day goes by where I don't encounter someone with either overplucked or overgrown eyebrows; both are equally unsightly—and then there's the woman at my dentist's office who brushes her eyebrow hairs straight up, trims them and sets them in place with brow gel so they take the form of a row of vertical hairs.

In any case, the London Telegraph has published an excellent guide by Shavata Singh, who has 10 eyebrow studios across Britain, on how to create perfect eyebrows. Right now, the most sought after eyebrow shape is very full or natural with an arch—think Brooke Shields circa the 1980s but more manicured. This guide is a must read, especially for my fellow recessionistas who insist on becoming experts at grooming our own brows! But if you're still wary of your brow-grooming abilities, Singh suggests having a professional shape them at first and thereafter maintaining them yourself on a daily basis.

Calvin Klein Cameo on "30 Rock"

Last night on the NBC comedy series "30 Rock", the American fashion desiger Calvin Klein made a brief but humorous cameo appearance as himself. In a scene where Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) and (now former) love interest Dr. Drew Baird (Jon Hamm) are taking a stroll, Drew's good looks garner him compliments from strangers, lead to a parking ticket torn up by a traffic warden, and Klein stops him with a proposal: "I am Calvin Klein and I think you should be my next underwear model." Even more hilariously, Klein doesn't offer Drew a business card or phone number to get in touch, should he choose to accept the offer. It's fiction in any case—according to Women's Wear Daily, Klein no longer casts his namesake brand's models. Another bit of trivia—daughter Marci Klein is executive producer of the show.

See photos of Klein on location for the show in New York City at buzzfoto.

View the first part of the episode, entitled "The Bubble," on YouTube. Klein's appearance is 1 minute and 57 seconds in.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Images: Matthew Williamson for H&M

As mentioned in an earlier post, Matthew Williamson is designing an upcoming designer collection for H&M. Since then, new photographs have been released. The range appears to combine elements from Williamson’s previous collections—graphic prints, vivid colours, studs and metallic sheen, and a peacock motif are featured. On this subject, Williamson said that he "wanted to create an urban collection with my brand’s typical patterns and forms. It has been fascinating to search through the archives and select the most iconic garments, and then recast them for H & M." The pricing seems much like previous designer capsule collections, in other words not as affordable as H&M's own retail wares—a sequined minidress is priced at US$200, a silk jumpsuit (ubiquitous this season) at £150, a blue silk mix blazer at £70 and a tiered silk cocktail dress at £100 (no word yet on Canadian prices). While the exclusive women’s collection launching on April 23, 2009 will be carried in selected stores, a summer line for both women and men is slated for delivery to all stores in mid-May.

View the images at Spanish mode blog Fashionisma and Swedish pop culture blog Pause.se. The items on Stylefinder.com that I linked to in my last post on this subject have all sold out and are unavailable for viewing. It looks like we will have to wait until May magazine issues launch to see the official ad campaign, shot by Solve Sundsbo in Mexico with Williamson himself and star Canadian model Daria Werbowy.

So far I'm not excited by many pieces, except those in the ensemble shown below. I've definitely got my eye on the wide studded belt!

Japanese Runway Model Robot Unveiled

According to the London Telegraph, Japanese robotics researchers have created a catwalk robot that will soon be modelling clothes on the runway at Tokyo fashion shows. The female cyborg—kitted out with slightly oversized eyes, a small nose and shoulder-length straight bob—has 42 motion motors that are programmed to imitate the movements of real human fashion models. The media premiere took place at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology outside Tokyo. In front of a cadre of reporters, television crews and photographers, the cybernetic human posed, smiled and pouted based on commands transmitted wirelessly via bluetooth devices. The fashion-bot is far from perfect however, occasionally mixing up facial expressions, which the inventors attributed to confusion of sound recognition sensors because of the din created by many camera shutters. Moreover, she doesn't uncannily resemble a real human—this was a deliberate move on the part of the creators, who intentionally designed her superficial features in an animé-style.

Whether this kind of fashion model robot will catch on, in Japan or internationally, is a question I'm sure many have contemplated. For starters, clothes are designed to fit real human women (the word "real" here I use liberally and not to incite any debate on normative body types) and not a robot, who so far has a more angular (not to mention hard) shape and moves less fluidly. Moreover, models have become personalities again (as in the supermodels of the 1990s) and their celebrity, attitude and personal style all contribute to selling the clothes. Besides, the whole idea of cyborgs, whether for fashion or otherwise, is still one that no doubt many (including myself) find somewhat unsettling.

View the London Telegraph's video of the Japanese fashion robot:

Marc Jacobs Engaged

Marc Jacobs, the American designer and creative director at Louis Vuitton, has become engaged to his ad executive boyfriend of about a year, Lorenzo Martone. Martone is currently listed on his Linked-In profile as Strategic Planner at Chandelier Creative, "a full service creative agency based in New York City... dedicated to making real, strategic change for fashion, beauty, retail, travel, and luxury lifestyle brands."

According to Women's Wear Daily, Jacobs and Martone will formally announce the engagement today when they arrive in Brazil wearing matching rings. They are headed to Martone's native Sao Paolo for a party to celebrate the Marc Jacobs multibrand store, which opened its doors in January. Jacobs will also meet Martone's mother for the first time. As of yet, they have not set date for the wedding.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Revival of Schiaparelli Fashion House?

According to Women's Wear Daily, there has been talk of a revival of the dormant French fashion house Schiaparelli.

Originally launched by Elsa Schiaparelli in the 1920s, the house gained fame with her trompe l'oeil sweater designs, her signature shade of shocking pink, and her collaborations with Surrealist artists Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau in the late 1930s (a subject on which I wrote my graduate thesis). After struggling through the austerity of the period following World War Two, Schiaparelli finally closed the house in 1954.

The faded Schiaparelli brand is currently owned by Tod's Diego Della Valle and is not scheduled for revival until 2010 at the earliest. Though some editor circles have suggested the possibility of a design role for Olivier Theyskens (who recently departed Nina Ricci), sources have refuted such rumours and Della Valle has denied carrying out a design search for the house. This news follows the rebirth in 2007 of a contemporary of Schiaparelli's, the fabled French house of Madeleine Vionnet. The Parisian house of Rochas is another story of revivals—the fashion side was relaunched to great acclaim in 2002 with Theyskens at the helm, only to close due to financial woes in 2006, and then revived again in 2009 with creative director Marco Zanini.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Olivier Theyskens Leaves Artistic Director Post at Nina Ricci

As confirmed by Women's Wear Daily, Olivier Theyskens has officially left his post as artistic director at Nina Ricci. According to a joint statement from both the designer and Ricci, Theyskens departed the French fashion house on March 10, well before his contract was set to expire in October. The statement claimed that the house "wishes to re-orientate its development strategy for the years to come. Consequently, Nina Ricci and its artistic director Olivier Theyskens have decided by mutual agreement to cease their collaboration." The partnership of two years has been marked by editorial praise, weak commercial sales and recent indications of conflict between the edgy designer with a gothic edge and the fashion house with a traditionally romantic and ethereal image.

Theyskens is reported to be considering a relaunch of his signature label, as he owns the rights to his trademark. No official announcement was made as to a successor at Nina Ricci, however the split ought to open the door to Peter Copping, who is set to leave his current design position under Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton in order to join Ricci as creative director.

Below, an interview with Olivier Theyskens on the Nina Ricci Fall 2009 Ready-to-Wear collection. His answer to the question of whether he will be staying on at the house avoided confirmation of what had become a hot topic of speculation during the recently concluded Paris Fashion Week.

Nominees for 2009 CFDA Fashion Awards Announced

The Council of Fashion Designers of America has announced the nominees for the 2009 CFDA Fashion Awards. This year's Board of Director's Special Tribute honours First Lady Michelle Obama, who has impressed the fashion industry with her sartorial choices and preference for young, up-and-coming talent. Emerging designers in particular (including Obama favourites Thakoon and Jason Wu) are recognized by the Swarovski awards. The awards will this year take place on June 15, 2009 in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall after being held for seven years at the New York Public library.

2009 CFDA Fashion Awards Nominees & Honorees:

Womenswear Designer of the Year award:
Marc Jacobs, Narciso Rodriguez, Rodarte's Kate and Laura Mulleavy.

Menswear Designer of the Year award:
Calvin Klein Collection's Italo Zucchelli, Michael Bastian and Scott Sternberg for Band of Outsiders.

Accessory Designer of the Year award:
Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Proenza Schouler's Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez.

Swarovski Award for Womenswear:
Thakoon Panichgul, Alexander Wang, Jason Wu.

Swarovski Award for Menswear:
Patrik Ervell, Robert Geller, Tim Hamilton.

Swarovski Award for Accessory Design:
Albertus Q. Swanepoel, Alejandro Ingelmo, Justin Giunta for Subversive Jewelry.

International Award:
Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton

Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award:
Anna Sui

Eugenia Sheppard Award:
Edward Nardoza, Women's Wear Daily editor in chief

Eleanor Lambert Award:
Jim Moore, creative director of GQ Magazine

Curators Announced for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2009

Toronto will be transformed for the 2009 edition of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, which will include four exhibitions in different parts of the city curated by five Canadian curators.

The area around City Hall in Zone A will be curated by Gregory Elgstrand as "The Circle With The Hole In The Middle" and will venture into a continuous play of interpretations that will explore ideas celebrating death, philosophy and parades. Yonge-Dundas Square, also in Zone A, will be headed by Thom Sokoloski under the title "What were we before?" It will take the form of an interactive and participatory space in which individual engagement with art will be highlighted. Zone B, taking place in the financial district, will feature visual and extra-visual artworks within the shadows of the urban, concrete environment after dark. This exhibition, entitled "Nightsense," will be curated by Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher, who is a former professor of mine from York University's graduate program in art history. Zone C, encompassing Liberty Village and dubbed "Urban Disaster / Catastrphe / Survival Actions," will be curated by Makiko Hara and will use strategic creative survival actions to investigate the universal human ability to cope with memories of war, disaster and catastrophe.

View an introductory video where the Nuit Blanche curators discuss their creative visions and plans for each zone:

The 4th edition of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche will take place on October 3, 2009 from 7:00pm until 7:00am. For more information, visit www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lawrence Weiner at The Power Plant

New York-based artist Lawrence Weiner, a critical figure in the history and development of conceptual art, is often credited with establishing the use of language as the foundation of installation art. This month Weiner presents a new installation of typographic text-based works titled "The Other Side of a Cul de Sac," curated by Gregory Burke at the Power Plant. The exhibition encompasses the gallery spaces as well as the Power Plant's signature smokestack and emphasizes the enduring influence of the artist's sculptural practice. Because the works do not rely on a fixed metaphor to convey meaning, the viewer is free to interpret the work from his or her own perspective.

Lawrence Weiner, "The Other Side of a Cul de Sac" runs until May 17, 2009 at
the Power Plant Gallery in Toronto (231 Queens Quay West). For more information on the exhibit and preview images, visit the Power Plant website.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Now Online: Joe Fresh Style Spring 2009 Campaign + Joe Fresh Beauty Site

Joe Fresh Style's Spring 2009 campaign is now available on the line's website www.joe.ca (the campaign is headed by Canadian interactive agency henderson bas, who have a very clever website of their own: theniceagency.com). You can also enter to win a $1700 Joe Fresh shopping spree. A portion of the collection has already been introduced to stores—a few weeks ago I picked up a salmon classic trench ($59), one black and one denim pair of skinny jeans ($29 each) and a french cuff pink peter-pan collar blouse ($19), both of which show great attention to detail. In the lookbook you can view details of some of the items by clicking on the white square outline that appears when you hover your cursor over an image. Check out other individual items with the Mix 'n Match Tool—I'm keeping my eyes peeled for the tan fedora ($8) and the printed soft ballet flats ($16). Sometimes the fashions at Joe can be hit or miss, but when they're a hit, they're spot on! And for a great price.

I covered the Joe Fresh Beauty collection in an earlier post. Since then, the Joe Fresh Beauty website has officially launched! Now you can browse all the products I mentioned and more in every colour online. I just can't resist Joe's Fine Liquid Eyeliner at only $6!

The site quotes creative director Joe Mimran: “The approach we’ve used with the fashion collection translates beautifully to cosmetics. We want to dress our customers from head to toe and that includes make-up. For us, it’s always about value, style and quality.” And according to Elizabeth Margles, vice president of marketing, “We want to continue to surprise and delight our customers.” Mission accomplished!

Daft Punk: idaft + Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2008 Mix

Recently a free Daft Punk-inspired web-based application has been circulating around Twitter. It's called The Daft Punk's Console or idaft beta 2.0 by NAJLE.com and instructs you to "Work It, Make It, Do It." Tap on some keyboard letters and make some music via Daft Punk "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" samples!

As I mentioned in a
previous post about Justice's runway mix for Dior Homme, Daft Punk contributed the soundtrack to the Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2008 womens ready-to-wear collection presented in October 2007. I love when music and fashion collide! Daft Punk's electro beats and computerized vocals were set against a parade of models beginning with erotic nurses in see-through plastic belted coats and lace face masks. This was followed by a frenetic pastiche of clothes of pastel shades, odd combinations of fabrics and textures, and deconstructed fragments. The shoes (pointed-toe pumps accented with bows and sparkles) and costume jewellery (chunky, statement pieces) were much more grounded in the mainstream and on trend. Jacobs created a balance between the playful and sophisticated; as Style.com put it, he managed to walk the line "between creative freedom and commercial innovation." With the opening of the show, Marc Jacobs referenced the artist Richard Prince, who created a series of Nurse paintings. Jacobs said the inspiration for the collection, "all came from our collaboration with Richard Prince, who is an artist who appropriates references within his work, which is what we do—which is fine, so long as there are three differences in everything! And I'm a fan of SpongeBob SquarePants—and for all I know, so is Rei Kawakubo, because that's where our color came from!"

You can see the YouTube videos of the fashion show below. The mix was available for download on zSHARE but has unfortunately since been removed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Matthew Williamson for H&M: Spring 2009

English fashion designer Matthew Williamson, who left his post as artistic director of Pucci in September, is next in line to create a capsule collection for H&M. Based on the few images released to date, it looks like the designer will be carrying his signature emphasis on saturated colour, vibrant prints and feminine shapes over to the masstige line.

A press release from the Swedish retailer quotes Williamson on the subject of the collaboration: "It is an incredible opportunity to be working with H&M, creating a 'Matthew Williamson for H&M' capsule collection. I love the fact that H&M has created a new phenomenon in fashion through the pioneering concept of collaborating with high-end designers to create one-off limited edition capsule collections. I am thrilled that my creations for H&M will be accessible to and hopefully enjoyed by so many people around the world."

According to H&M's creative advisor Margareta van den Bosch, "Matthew has such a good eye and a way for working with prints that he mixes up in a new way. When he combines these things, you get a very contemporary London look. He is fantastic with piling on colour - it's a very stylish collaboration for H&M, and very much in line with the way we're thinking about fashion for spring/summer."

The exclusive women's spring collection will hit select H&M stores on April 23—for Toronto, this usually means the Bloor & Yonge and Eaton Centre locations. A second collection, including both men's and women's summer fashions, will be available mid-May. This line marks Williamson's first foray into the desiging of menswear and he will be modelling pieces, another first, in H&M's upcoming ad campaign. The campaign was shot in Mexico (print ads) and Brazil (television spots).

The UK website Stylefinder.com lists a few items from the collection including a silk jumpsuit, a silk tiered dress, a sequined party dress and a silk-blend blazer.

H&M Spring 2009 Campaign Features Shalom Harlow, Eva Herzigova and... Vincent Gallo?

Trendy Swedish retail giant and masstige brand innovator H&M's Spring 2009 ad campaign has launched and it stars the inimitable Shalom Harlow, Eva Herzigova and Vincent Gallo. Gallo at first seemed like a bizarre, unlikely choice but he cleans up well and looks surprisingly chiseled and modelesque alongside the professional mannequins. Harlow, Herzigova and Gallo look like they're having a fabulous time; the ads are fun, breezy, carefree. The dynamic shoot seems geared towards generating excitement and anticipation for the arrival of spring after a long, dreary winter—the weather will get warmer, flowers will bloom, not to mention we'll have to build a new seasonal wardrobe! The red geometric motifs add coherence to the campaign, adhering to a bright colour scheme of saturated reds, oranges and purples, which is tempered by clean neutrals white, tan, grey and black, and set against a stark, modern white background. For more campaign images, check out The Fashion Spot.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

CBC Cancels Fashion File

Citing financial cutbacks, attributed largely to a significant decline in advertising revenues, CBC-TV has decided to axe the long-running sartorial news show "Fashion File" as well as the lifestyle series "Steven & Chris" (known also for their previous incarnation as "Designer Guys"). Kirstine Layfield, CBC-TV's executive director of network programming, made it clear that the move was not a reflection on the shows or its hosts. Production on "Fashion File" will continue until March 31 while "Steven & Chris" will conclude on April 15. Technically, "Fashion File" is "not returning next season" while "Steven & Chris" has been put "on hiatus next season"—the difference appears to be largely semantic however, as the hiatus is reported to be indefinite. Following the conclusion of production, the shows will be broadcast in repeats as part of a new afternoon schedule. The cancellations come on the heels of an announcement by Heritage Minister James Moore that the public broadcaster will not be receiving additional government funding.

"Fashion File" is an internationally syndicated series that has been on the air for two decades, most recently hosted by Adrian Mainella, who took on the role after winning the Fashion File Host Hunt competition in 2007. CBC plans to hang on to the "Fashion File" brand, which it co-owns along with Fashion Magazine, to use in other capacities. This is an unfortunate day in Canadian fashion reporting history. So far, at least, it looks like CTV's Fashion Television, hosted by Jeanne Beker, and the spectacular Fashion Television Channel are holding steady.

Joe Fresh Style Launches Cosmetic Line

Joe Fresh Style is Joe Mimran's most accessible line to date, bringing quality style to the masses at (almost unbelievably) affordable prices. Mimran has had his hand in fashion for decades, creating collections for trendy Club Monaco, upscale Alfred Sung and lifestyle-oriented Caban. Now Joe Fresh continues the democratization of fashion and design in their launch of a brand new cosmetics line.

The Joe Fresh brand is well positioned to withstand (as best as can be expected) the threat of sagging sales due to a global recession. Joe Fresh Beauty, however, is especially timely when one considers the "Lipstick Index". This term was coined in late 2001 by Leonard Lauder, the chairman of cosmetics giant Estée Lauder, who noted that lipstick sales in the US jumped 11% after the economy began to deteriorate following the September 11 attacks. Also, throughout the Depression cosmetic sales rose more than 20%, while lipstick was one of few unrationed indulgences during World War Two. Meanwhile, The New York Times reported in November 2008 that lipstick sales were up 40%. Lauder has said that lipstick sales are a good gauge for the economy, or an "economic indicator". Cosmetic sales tend to be inversely correlated to economic health. According to Lauder, when the market faces a downturn, sales increase as women seek to lift their spirits. After all, individual cosmetic items are relatively inexpensive when compared to other consumer items.

Joe Fresh Beauty, complete with stylish, minimalist packaging, hits Loblaw Superstores this month! The line includes eight eye products (in 61 shades), eight lip products (in 69 shades), seven face products (in 47 shades), 13 makeup brushes and 13 cosmetic accessories, including eyebrow grooming and pedicure kits. Prices range between $4 and $16—eyeliners and cheek tints cost $4, while mascara and lipsticks sell for $6. I encountered a display at the Scarborough location this past weekend and snagged a Tinted Lip Balm in "Blush" and a Lip Stain in "Peach"—they go for $8 each. I've also been eyeing the double-ended concealer, with liquid on one end and solid on the other.

NOTE (18/03/09) - According to a Senior Customer Relations Representative at Joe Fresh Style, "No hypo allergenic or non-codemogenic testing has been performed on our cosmetics." So those of you who have very sensitive skin or make-up allergies should be wary.

Tom Wolfe's Next Novel: "Back To Blood"

The title of Tom Wolfe's next novel has been released. Entitled "Back To Blood," it will be the author's first work of fiction since 2004's "I am Charlotte Simmons". The novel will be set in Miami and explore notions of race, class, corruption and ambitionthemes which recur in the author's work, most notably 1987's "Bonfire of the Vanities" and 1998's "A Man in Full". It will also deal with the hot-button issue of immigration. A statement by the author on this subject is quoted in the New York Times: "Two years ago when I got the idea of doing a book on immigration, people would say, ‘Oh, that’s fascinating,’ and then they would go to sleep standing up like a horse. Since then the subject has become a little more exciting, and in Miami it’s not only exciting, it’s red hot." According to the AP, characters include "a Cuban nurse married to a French sex doctor, a Haitian woman 'who passes for Anglo' and 'a freshman journalist on the trail of a Russian-mob-comes-to-Miami story'."

Wolfe is an American author and journalist who contributed to the rise of the phenomenon called "New Journalism" in the 1960s and '70s
an example of his work in this vein is the chronicle of 1960s counter-culture and the rise of LSD in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" (1968). Wolfe seeks to document contemporary society in his novels, which are a product of extensive sociological and anthropological research into social, political and cultural trends. He is also known for his signature "Southern Gentleman"-style white suits, which tend to lend him a vaguely dandyish air. Last summer, in Time Magazine, Wolfe spoke on the subject of his sartorial choices: "It has done me so much good. Not long after I published my first book, I quickly found I was terrible at being interviewed. But then I'd read the piece and it would say, 'What an interesting man; he wears white suits.' And so it was a good 10 years where the suits were a substitute for a personality."

"Back To Blood" will be released by Little, Brown, rather than Wolfe's long-time publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Reports reveal that compensation was the deciding factor in the move to a different publisher. The book is slated to be published sometime in 2009; since we're already almost three months in, I'm wondering when that's going to be. Either way, I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Slow Dancin' With Doritos

IAB Canada's MIXX Canada Conference from last week has generated a lot of positive feedback, not least for the presentation by BBDO Argentina's Interactive Creative Director, Fernando Barbella, who presented an insightful, not to mention thoroughly entertaining, social media case study in positive "brand hi-jacking" based on a campaign for PepsiCo. brand Doritos.

Doritos was almost completely unknown in Argentina until a couple of years ago; since then the brand has built "street cred" and became accepted exclusively with young people. In 2008, BBDO Argentina developed a new message to associate with the brand, which would create interactivity and affect the target audience on a deeper level. It involved a proposed solution to the various challenges facing Argentinian teenagers in the realm of dating (music is too loud at nightclubs to facilitate conversation and couples dance separately; shyness and fear of ridicule can lead house parties to be intimidating venues). This crusade was dubbed, "Bring Slow Dancing Back"! This campaign so inspired its target audience that it inadvertently generated its own youth movement. A couple of friends took it upon themselves to plan a flash mob-style party at the biggest disco-ball in Buenos Aires (The Planetarium) to bring slow dancing back in vogue and reap its romantic rewards (you can tell I enjoy alliteration).

The campaign launched with five humorous, risquée, 1980s power ballad-laden television commercials that extolled the advantages of slow dancing. I've included a few here for your viewing pleasure. They quite sharply contrast how conservative (often read "bland") many North American television ads are; Europeans and South Americans seem much more willing to push the envelope creatively!

For a more detailed summary of the case study, check out Sonia Carreno's blog Passage Communications.

Pimp Your iGoogle: Artist Themes

iGoogle is the most impressive home page you can get on your web browser. Not only is it a well organized space for your news and blog feeds, weather and traffic reports, embedded maps and other useful (or just for fun) applications - but you can also pick a theme to make it more personalized and aesthetically appealing!

Naturally, I'm drawn to the fashion-related themes. Since I signed up for my iGoogle page, I've been using the Diane Von Furstenberg theme. She's my favourite dress designer - how could I resist adorning my home page with her wild, brightly-coloured patterns!

The DVF theme has been on iGoogle since the original Artist Themes launch, which featured fashion designers Tory Burch, Oscar de la Renta, and Dolce & Gabbana (of course their theme flaunts a sexy leopard print!), as well as artists Jeff Koons (who also designed the graphic for the original homepage promotion, at top) , Michael Graves and Philippe Starck.

Since then, a collection of themes was launched to commemorate September 2008's New York Fashion Week. This special edition includes Betsey Johnson (sweet Pop Art-like cherries), Gucci, Kate Spade, Burberry and Vivienne Tam. Now you can also find Stella McCartney and BCBGMaxAzria.

Dior Homme Spring/Summer 2009 + Justice's "Planisphere"

Dior Homme presented their spring/summer 2009 collection last June with Kris Van Assche at the helm. Specially for the occasion, French electronic duo Justice collaborated with the ready to wear label to provide the soundtrack. Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay of Justice join a long line of emerging talent and famous musicians who have lent their sound to the runway (one of the most noted of late being Daft Punk's mix for Louis Vuitton in 2007). Their synth-heavy electro-pop score complemented Van Assche's sartorial interpretation of the Dior aesthetic, which was marked by a lean silhouette, sharp lines and heavy retro-futuristic sunglasses.

Dior Homme s/s 2009 Part 1

Dior Homme s/s 2009 Part 2

Although reviews of the collection were mixed, Justice's contribution is immaculate, even while experienced sans visual accompaniment. For this reason, they released a four part EP entitled "Planisphere"; originally available via their MySpace page, it can now be downloaded on zSHARE. I highly recommend it, especially as an antidote to the wait us fans will have to endure for a follow-up full length LP to 2007's ("Cross").

In the meantime, to get your Justice fix, you can also check out their 2008 CD/DVD live album and documentary "A Cross The Universe," which follows the duo during their March 2008 North American tour.

Justice initially came to my attention via a TELUS television ad that aired in November 2007. I was captivated and searched the web frantically to determine who recorded the song and how I could get my hands on the full version. This was, of course, before the days of Shazam: now all you have to do is point your iPhone at the source of the music to find out what you're listening to.