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UNPRECIOUS: Collection #17 - a review by Stephen MacMillan Moser



November 20, 2014 



I keep thinking about Gail Chovan's Fall fashion show, Unprecious. I thought it was one of her best collections - certainly the most polished, but with plenty of Gail's typical outré surprises. Some of it was among the most wearable she has produced, and some of it so conceptual (no surprise) that it falls into the category serious art wear.


The setting, Justine's Private House, was like a beautiful secret jewel whispering ancient wisdom... and was soon jammed to the rafters with sweaty throngs of social and fashion intelligentsia eagerly awaiting what has become THE most desirable invitation on the private circuit.


The many high-ceiling rooms, halls, porch, stairway and front yard became Mme. Chovan's runway in an intimate, old world, salon-style show that best suits the soul of the clothes that she designs. They can be hard and edgy with a touch-me-not quality to them, but they can also be deeply romantic and spiritual, begging to be worn.


The opening group combining sheer black with woven strips of leather, was a strong opening, segueing into red wine-stained white charmeuse tunic variations, followed by a black sculptural group, and - surprise of surprises - a finale of gorgeous black and red print dresses. Yes, it was true - we witnessed a rare sighting of prints on Gail's runway.


The finale dress employed the Paris-bought black and red print silk that was shown right before, but was done as a grand-style strapless ball gown with acres of fabric in the skirt. The dress had been Gail's entry in the LBJ Library's exhibition of dresses inspired by ones in Mrs Johnson's collection. 

It was stunningly beautiful (not that it should have been a surprise) but it was so conventional in its gorgeousness that one could easily compare that dress - a true anomaly for Gail - to those of other designers.


And THAT, we simply cannot have. Chovan has worked hard over the years to establish her domain as that of the rebel couturier. I've watched her go from someone who made clothes for fashion shows and then secreted them away, seemingly forever, to someone whose fashion authority cannot be questioned, and whose one-of-a-kind originals are highly sought after. She is not "of" other mortal designers and she cannot be judged by their standards.


Afterwards I turned and told Alton DuLaney and Aaron Johnson that I thought the collection was Gail's most polished and we laughed over the fact that there were NO unfinished hems in sight. And to my delight, Gail's bevy of beautiful models included a name that seems to be on so many lips these days - Devin Coy. Though Gail only designs womenswear, Coy's lithe body and chiseled features fit in with the best of them. Though we were friends on Facebook, I wasn't entirely sure if I really knew who he was. I heard about him one place, then another" and then suddenly, there he is on the runway in front of me in all his androgynous glory. While making my goodbyes outside a after the show, he walked past me and we both made a point of acknowledging each other and saying hello. After our brief encounter he repeated his name to me clearly, with a tone that almost said, "Remember that name." After what I saw, we're not likely to forget him anytime soon.


All the usual fashionable suspects were in attendance, though Jacki OHand I sat with Boudoir Queen, Mark Younger-Smith, Karen Hawkins, andMicky Hoogendijk in what was called the East Room. Along with seeing dear friends like Maria Groten, my favorite moment was when Gail's son, the adorable Creed, entered the East Room and upon seeing me, dragged his equally diminutive date over to me. He gave me a big hug and off-handedly told the girl that, "He's the one who designs Alejandro Escovedo's suits." He took his date's arm and guided her out while rolling his eyes at me and saying, "You ca-RAZY fashion people."

Afraid so, Creed - it's just what your mother cultivates best.


- Stephen MacMillen Moser.  30 october 2014