Posts Tagged ‘Washington Post’

Fashion Icon: Robin Givhan

In Fashion, Icon on August 16, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I’ve had many mentors in my life. And the fashion authority I admire, well, they are as cliché as Tim Blanks, Hilary Alexander, and Godfrey Deeny. But recently, I’ve developed a slight addiction to Ms. Robin Givhan, fashion editor for the Washington Post.

That’s another cliché , as we are both black women. However, in Ms. Givhan’s case, the depth in her stories stem from archaic libraries in that tiny storage disc that is her brain. You can taste the richness of her knowledge; like a slice of red velvety cake. Conservative? Definitely. (That’s okay. I’m an advocate of British Vogue, I enjoy the Financial Times’ Fashion section, and I’m pro-Lisa Armstrong.) Ms. Givhan is a by-product of the 90s. The Princeton graduate started a Reporter covering Detroit’s techno music scene in the late 80s before transitioning into fashion. She’s won a Pulitzer Prize for her fashion criticism, and her work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and The New Yorker. She currently reports exclusively on the Obama family – in my opinion, the highest honour in North American standards – among her other journalistic responsibilities. Now, Ms. Givhan should be seen as a role model to women of all creeds. But I digress.

My focus is clearer now than it was yesterday. I don’t want ephemeral respect. I want to be known as someone whose tight grasp of fashion’s history translates into a cohesive analysis of its future. Is it ambitious to aim for award-winning applaud? Perhaps appearances in the publications I so admire? I’m not concerned with being a “wordsmith,” but rather, making you feel full from what I  write. Among the true intellectuals on my radar are Alexandra Shulman, Harriet Quick, Tim Blanks – who cannot be left out of the equation – and Robin Givhan. Particularly Robin Givhan. She gives me what I will one day give you.

There’s no bad press, when you wear that dress

In culture, designer, Fashion Heat, Good Look, Recap on December 4, 2009 at 2:10 am

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the White House’s holdings; I’ve been a naughty girl – or at least so I thought, until I did closer inspection on the Desirée Rogers “scandal.”

Politics is an extensive, overwhelming topic. But when it’s somehow incorporated into fashion, as it was in this case, it drew my interest, so I thought I’d touch base.

Up until today, I didn’t even know who Desirée Rogers or Robin Givhan were. And I’m not ashamed of it because ultimately, when it comes to Obama affairs, they’re not (or at least not supposed to be) the center of attention, here. But both are getting partial flack over the first Obama state dinner in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that took place on November 24. With Ms. Givhan as the supposed instigator, and Ms. Rogers as the faux pas at-large.

Ms. Rogers, the longtime compadre to the Obama clan, was hired as their Social Secretary at the White House. I admit, I consider that a fancy term for PR girl. With that being said, maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she’s reveling in the laws of glamour, immaculately adorned in the latest fashions, and accepting feature requests from the world’s top fashion publications. Including the infamously lavish Wall Street Journal piece where she made her staple on building the “Obama brand” while deliberating over whether to wear an Oscar De La Renta gown for the photo spread. She’s merely doing her job right? Well, maybe. But I do believe when your job gets in the way of scruples, something’s got to give.

“[The dress] featured layers of sheer pink and creme fabric and loops of pearls, is from [Comme des Garcons’s] Fall 2009 collection.” Wrote Mrs.O.

Indeed, Ms. Rogers was stunning in that sheer nude Comme des Garcons dress she wore to the dinner. And I say that as someone half her age – sincerely. For a single mother at age 50, who obviously still has a vivacious zest for life, she glided in the risqué ensemble that bared transparent sleeves, looped in strands of pearls and white tulle outlining her silhouette. However, as much as I personally love all things avant-garde, especially fashion, if I were initiated into the White House camp, even I would willfully suppress my splendiferous tendencies – this isn’t funny business, you know.  Especially when it will inevitably lead to scrutiny amongst some of the most respected media (fashion or otherwise) in the arena.

Ms. Givhan, the Washington Post alum (Fashion Editor to be specific) wrote a hard-hitting article regarding that night. The smooth running and guest list for the dinner was left in Ms. Rogers’s care.  So how, were Michaele and Tareq Salahi, two relatively “unknowns,” able to get past security service without being invited is beyond the nation, even me.  The fact is that according to Ms. Givhan, Ms. Rogers, so wrapped-up in glamour-puss mode, didn’t properly delegate people in her office to closely monitor patrons at the front gates. “Social secretaries had always quashed their own public profiles, demurred from seeking the limelight, in service to their position and in deference to the first lady; [but] there was a new social sheriff in town and, for better or worse, she was one like no other.” Wrote Ms. Givhan in her article. On top of that, Ms. Rogers  sat at the dinner table as a bona fide guest rather than waiting on the sidelines as a staff member organizing an event should do.

“They (her friends) warned her of the ways of Washington, its desire for discretion, and urged to keep her profile low. In the nation’s capital, no one need know whether the social secretary wore Nina Ricci or Halston, just that she was appropriately clothed.” And now Ms. Givhan is looked at like some snooty nosed perpetuator. Especially because as soon as she saw Ms. Rogers on the press line she confirmed  by asking “Are you wearing Comme des Garcon?” in which Ms. Rogers replied “Of course.” Ms. Givhan obviously knows her stuff, but I guess to others she’s trying to tarnish Ms. Rogers’s reign because she may be just a bit more glamorous than herself. “You don’t wear something like that if you don’t want or mind a little attention. That single dress, I thought, said a lot about who Rogers is and how she sees herself.” Ms. Givhan rebutted on her blog.

At this point, with the myriad of coverage garnered, the twists and turns of plotlines and everything in between, I’m not sure who or what is to blame here. And the concept of party crashing is certainly not new. Maureen Dowd from NY Times reported that even President Obama “crashed Hillary’s high-hat party in 2008 and he crashed the snooty age-old Washington party of privileged white guys with a monopoly on power.” And I’m quite sure Ms. Rogers had hoped her high-profile parties (back when she was a Chi-town girl), would be crashed by high society people she forgot to invite too.

But I suppose that this story is much deeper than Ms. Rogers’s rapturous dress and the power-hungry couple that broke the gate of entry. The problem at hand is Mr. Obama and family’s protection and image conflicting with Ms. Rogers’s star-studded ego.