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Is there such thing as fashion fatigue? When you’ve seen it all, and worn it weirdly, what comes next? Ever since Lady Gaga roared onto the scene, she’s made it her business to explore the outlandish side of dressing. There wasn’t a platform heel high enough, themed headdress big enough, or piece of couture extravagant enough to sate her appetite for eccentricity, and for years she pushed the limits with every public appearance. As a champion of a dress made of meat, among other wearable sculptures, Gaga managed to transform herself from her roots as an up-and-coming singer from Manhattan’s Lower East Side into a larger-than-life icon and spokesperson for audacious self-expression. Which makes her latest move all the more intriguing: It’s been a slow and steady sea change that has solidified over the past week, where Gaga has eschewed the ornate, costumey pieces that were her signature and opted instead for—dare we say it?—minimalism.
Gaga has flirted with simplicity in the past, aided by the pared-down glamour of pieces like the Brandon Maxwell jumpsuit she chose for the Oscars, but her selections have lately been especially simple. To toast Tony Bennett’s 90th birthday, Gaga donned a sultry Carolina Herrera floor-length number topped off with an Eric Javits gaucho hat, later switching to a strapless Brandon Maxwell gown with a curved bodice. The star’s off-duty gear seems to have gotten a make-under, too, with ripped black denim, Alexander Wang cutoffs, and Saint Laurent blazers replacing wilder fare. (Remember when she used to go around with a teacup? Or in a dress made of stuffed animals?) Given that her most dramatic recent outfit was comprised of a gray plaid pantsuit and glasses—she wore it without a shirt—it’s safe to say that Gaga is taking a respite from weirdness.
Still, there may be a method behind the madness; with every other celebrity rebranding herself as a print-loving Gucci bohemian or a catsuit-loving member of the Balmain army, the easiest way to stand out may be to head in the opposite direction. There’s also not much weirder for her to get. If “look at me” fashions are the new normal, a true provocateur has to react against that. Gaga’s foray into plain old clothes may be an act of subversion—her artpop could mean anything—or simply what happens when it’s laundry day in pop star world, but if one thing’s for certain, it’s that in Lady Gaga’s world, less is definitely more.
The photography market shifts to Paris this week for the opening of Paris Photo, the largest and most successful photography fair in the world, But to see the best modern photography collection formed in recent years, London is the place to be. Here, Tate is exhibiting a small proportion of the holdings of Elton John, devoted to the age of experimentation with the camera, from the 1920s to the 1950s. This was a quiet area of the market when John burst onto the scene in the early Nineties. People began talking when in 1993 he bought a vintage 1930 print of Man Ray’s Glass Tears, estimated at £20,000, for £112,500. “I thought I had gone stark raving mad,” he remembers. “But I had to have it…when you think of it now, it was a steal.”
Just six years later, a presentation copy of the print, of which there are only six known variants, was reportedly sold by US dealer Peter MacGill to Hyatt Hotel chain owner John Pritzker for somewhere in the region of $1.3 million – the first photograph to sell for over $1 million. Now it would be worth considerably more. Other highly valued works on display include Dorothea Lange’s moving depiction of the Great Depression, Migrant Mother, 1936, a print of which sold for $389,000 this year, and Herbert Bayer’s surreal self-portrait, Humanly Impossible, 1932, which has sold for $461,000.
It seems like an eternity since we first heard that the world’s biggest car show would be recreated on Amazon Prime after Clarkson’s unceremonious sacking from the BBC. The Grand Tour, having been in production for over a year, stayed shrouded in secrecy while rumours swirled online, with the presenters staying uncharacteristically tight lipped about their shiny new show. Now, finally, GQ‘s bagged an interview with the former Top Gear hosts.
As you’d expect, they’re putting an incredibly positive spin on the move from the BBC to Amazon’s premium service, Prime; the word “reinvention” cropped up a lot. As Clarkson summarises, imagine “you’ve had 12 years of eating cottage pie on a Sunday night and now you’re getting shepherd’s pie. So it’s still meat and potato comfort food, but it’s different.”
But what about the format? Clarkson says that it’s “the same as before really, about 30 minutes of film and 30 minutes of studio stuff” but this time, there’s a tent – Clarkson’s idea, admits Hammond – that sets the series apart from its predecessor.
That’s not to say that people necessarily want something new. Former Top Gear fans want the trio, and luckily for Clarkson, given what happened at the BBC, that’s what he can deliver with The Grand Tour. After that fateful day in March 2015, it seemed like the whole planet went into meltdown. In the weeks that followed, a “bring back Jeremy Clarkson” petition was signed by over a million people as the internet went into speculation overdrive. However, the public needn’t have feared; May says that a move with all three presenters “was on the cards after 15 minutes. Tragically, I don’t think we ever separated.” Hammond and May knew that they had to follow Clarkson, the former insists that “[although] we don’t get on, we don’t have a bloody choice… We’re bigger when we’re all together, the four of us [including producer Andy Wilman].”
Despite the familiarity, May says that he thinks “anybody who likes us is pretty much bound to like The Grand Tour”. After more than a decade at the BBC, the men were still a little bit apprehensive at the start. Clarkson says that at first, he felt a “bit like a rabbit stuck in the headlights”, while May talked about the “nerve-wracking” nature of doing in case fans said “have they lost it, have they sold out?”. Clearly, the weight of expectation bore heavily on them. Hammond was aware that “if we didn’t put the effort in, if we cut corners, financially, creatively, in terms of effort, I would expect us to be hunted down and dragged through the streets. It’s like Land Rover reinventing the Defender. Get it wrong and you’re going to be in trouble.”
Fan’s expectations are sky-high, but the presenters say Amazon has yet to pile on the pressure. While the online giant pays for it, the show is produced by “Champ and Sons”, the presenter’s own production company, based, rather fittingly, on Power Road. For Clarkson, being your own boss can be both a blessing and a curse. To illustrate this point he recalls how “one of the kids was riding around the office on a pair of electric wheeled slippers and I just thought ‘oh god, if he goes through the window he’s going to cut his head off and that’s just going to be so many forms and I’m going to have to fill them out.’ At the BBC if you’d said someone had cut their head off, you’d just tell someone “oh he’s cut his head off, you deal with that.
“Honestly, the BBC, up until the arrival of Mr Cohen, was brilliant to work for” says Clarkson. Where you’d expect there could be a little hard feeling, amusingly, the presenters pitch their dramatic exit from the BBC as a convenient process of reinvention. This time around, they got to pick their own name – “Top Gear’s “a shit name for a car show” declared Hammond – and they decided the locations for themselves, with Whitby coming in top for Clarkson and May, who were very keen to enjoy the town’s fish and chips. Aside from this, the presenters all seem agreeably certain that, as put by Clarkson, “the days of scheduled television are drawing to an end”, hardly surprising given that their pay cheques are coming from a streaming service.
Hammond is adamant “that I wish the BBC all the best, I didn’t fall out with the BBC or anybody”, but has stayed pretty quiet on the new Top Gear front. “There’s nothing good to come out of that conversation with me really…[my view] is completely skewed.” May on the other hand said he liked it and thinks that “Matt Le Blanc is pretty good”, despite the fact that “he was very rude about me once with a signed photograph that he had.”
Le Blanc may be relatively popular, but there’s little doubt that the original “three gear heads”, as Hammond calls them, are the Kings of the car show model. Top Gear ratings have plummeted while excitement for The Grand Tour continues to accelerate. If the cacophony of the internet is anything to go by, people are more excited about seeing the guys back together than they are about the cars and the new set up, the astronomical costs of which have been well documented. This is probably just as well, as Clarkson says that the people who tune in for the cars are “going to be tragically disappointed in week two because there aren’t any. And there’s a lot of bickering.” However, May points out that the grand opening sequence, shot in the California desert, is sure to appease the “hardcore petrolheads”, as it’s “one of the most hardcore top shelf car films we’ve ever made.”
The new track, which May warns “isn’t really a racetrack in the accepted sense,” is also sure to excite all the “hardcore petrolheads”. He maintains that, while this mysterious track wasn’t intended for cars to drive around, it looks fantastic and is unlike any other racetrack you’ll see on TV. Clarkson dropped a few slightly heavier hints, saying that the track is on the roads around The Science Museum at Wraughton. The series also features a well-known “great” racing driver who “can set lap times on our track” according to Clarkson. Their identity is yet to be revealed.
Ultimately, it’s clear that, despite the inclusion of a couple of ballsy, expensive and crowd-pleasing new features, the presenting trio’s “panto” (as May calls it) will pander to the same audience that they have always attracted. There’s still no swearing, all three men were clear that they wanted the show to be as family-friendly as possible, despite Clarkson’s admission that his “youngest daughter is the most potty-mouthed person I’ve ever met.” Hammond’s explanatory point that “middle-aged men trying not to swear or say something rude is funnier than just saying it” seems a fair enough justification when you consider the trio’s dynamic. At it’s core, Top Gear and now in all likelihood The Grand Tour , are not shows about cars in and of themselves, but about what Hammond describes as “three middle aged men driving about getting things wrong and sometimes catching fire and falling over.”
When probed about the longevity of such a formula, Clarkson’s quick to point out that the life span will be three years – the same length as their contract. He jokes that “at the end of the third year we’ll just have a massive knife fight and kill each other, which is what we’ve always wanted to do.” May took a more serious approach to the question by casting a shadow of doubt over the potential for a second contract. “Not indefinitely…I’m surprised it’s lasted as long as it has” he said, “even Morecambe and Wise didn’t go on forever…[and] Bake Off fell apart.”
The BBC’s The Great British Bake Off may have fallen apart, and the new Top Gear remains in murky waters, but by shipping most of the old Top Gear talent to Prime, Clarkson’s more or less guaranteed that The Grand Tour will deliver on its promise of more of the same. Expect more at your peril.
London’s exclusive Kensington neighborhood, located near the center of the vast capital and within easy reach of many cultural and historic sites on the itinerary of any traveler to London, is an excellent location to serve as home base for your visit to this magnificent city. The Milestone Hotel, situated in the heart of Kensington near such sites as Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens and the Royal Albert Hall, offers exceptional access to all that London has to offer while feeling very much like a home away from home.
The building, formerly a private mansion that has occupied the site in one form or another since 1689, is very special, having been converted from private home to hotel without losing any of the home’s intimacy and homelike atmosphere. With a small number of guest rooms, suites and a few apartments, all decorated in the Victorian style of the hotel’s exterior but in a fresh and comfortable manner that affords the guest modern comforts like large en suite bathrooms, free WiFi throughout, as well as a spa, fitness center, sauna and indoor pool, this hotel feels like a true luxury home. The impression of being a guest in stately home is accentuated by the friendly staff who make a point of greeting you by name. I enjoyed staying in the Princess Suite where fresh flowers, a jar of candy, deluxe turn down service, 24-hour availability of room service and spa treatments as well as the exquisite decor and furnishings all spoke to the quality of the service the Milestone Hotel provides to guests.
Dining options at the Milestone Hotel are equally high end and in keeping with the property’s provenance. Cheneston’s Restaurant offers five-star preparation of classic British cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner while a less formal option, The Conservatory, serves breakfast, a light snack menu throughout the day and a sumptuous Afternoon Tea for which the hotel is well known. The Milestone’s comfortable and club-like cocktail bar, located in the mansion’s former carriage house and thus known as the Stables Bar, offers a comfortable place to unwind after a busy day of sampling London’s many cultural, historic and business destinations.
You launched a brand called The Simply Co. which is a line of toxic free, sustainable cleaning and household products. Can you talk about this?
Yes, I make organic laundry detergent, which is something I never thought I would be doing! But I had been making my own products at that point for 2 years – all my beauty and cleaning products – and I realized they worked and they were effective. At the time, right after college, I was working in engineering for the city and I had my blog, and I got questions all the time about the products that I was making, so I started doing some research and found that while there were beauty products that were in line with my own, the same wasn’t true for cleaning products.
I also learned that in traditional cleaning products, there are over 85,000 industrial chemicals that are used and most of them aren’t even tested for safety before they’re released into the market. On top of that, in the US, cleaning product manufacturers aren’t legally required to disclose the ingredients on the product packaging so when we buy something like laundry detergent, we have no idea what’s actually in it. Companies have the ability to say “fragrance” and “perfume” in the ingredient list because those are considered trade secrets, but those could be upwards of 2,000 different chemicals.
I decided to quit my job and start a company to sell these products that I knew worked and that I felt like we all deserved. It was 2 years ago that I launched my Kickstarter for the company. I thought I was going to have 100 people who backed the campaign so I was like “I can do this by hand!” By the end of 3 days, I had over 850 backers and over 1,000 jars of detergent preordered. I was sitting in my apartment hand grinding soap to make laundry detergent!
From there it has become a fully integrated company. My products are manufactured in Ohio at a facility where it’s solar powered and super sustainable, it’s a dream! It’s been a really amazing process.
You haven’t sent a single piece of trash to the landfill in over four years, yet you don’t fit into the stereotypical aesthetic of a “hippie” – can you talk about living zero waste while also thriving in a modern world?
Yeah! I mean, I’m a 25 year old girl that lives in New York City, I want to go out and have fun, date, eat good food, and look and feel beautiful, but at the same time I don’t want to have a negative environmental impact and I want to live zero waste. I’ve found that neither have to be compromised, I can do both, and it’s just about making choices that are quite simple. Through doing things like swapping out a plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one, or coming prepared with a mason jar, I’ve been able to be my authentic self and a live sustainably. If you look at the things that constitute zero waste, like using wash clothes instead of paper towel, saying no to plastic straws, neither of those things are hard, and once you incorporate those into your routine, it has a really positive impact.
How does fashion fit into the idea of sustainability?
When I started living this lifestyle I stopped buying any new clothing, so I’ve been shopping exclusively second hand for 4 years now, and it’s been the most eye opening thing ever. There’s so much unneeded stuff out there that people don’t want anymore, so they sell to a second hand shop. So not only is it 90% cheaper than if I were buying something new, but I’m also reusing something that would technically be waste.
Is it challenging maintaining personal style within your zero waste lifestyle?
Not at all! And it’s cool because I feel like I’m hunting, and when you find something you really like it feels like you’ve scored. I’ve also learned to be much more minimal and have really learned my body and I feel like your 20s are really about that time. I’ve really learned through second hand shopping what I feel good in, what makes me feel beautiful, and through that I’ve learned how to be really selective when I’m shopping. I love asking myself, “How does this make me feel? Does it go with everything in my closet?”
In 1910, the American Ladies’ Tailors’ Association created what it called the “suffragette suit”: a blouse, jacket and ankle-length divided skirt that permitted the wearer to take long, forceful strides on the road to voting rights. Long after women gained the right to vote (in 1920), they were still required to wear dresses or skirts on the floor of the US Senate. That rule stood until 1993, when Senators Barbara Mikulski and Carol Moseley Braun led a “pantsuit rebellion” that brought about amendments to the official dress code.
Clinton, of course, would have watched that rebellion from the White House. Since then she has embraced and encouraged her association with the once-derided style. The candidate’s first Instagram post, from June 2015, featured a rail of red, white and blue pantsuits, captioned with “Hard choices” (also the title of her bestselling memoir). Her Twitter bio reads, “Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate.”
The Star’s Washington Bureau Chief, Daniel Dale, has been following Donald Trump’s campaign for months. He has fact checked thousands of statements and found hundreds of falsehoods