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Now is the winter of our discontent

William Shakespeare
King Richard the Third
, act I, sc. i, l. 1

I hope not! Yet, for many of us, thus has begun a very long, cold winter. At times, winter causes us to withdraw, makes us sometimes melancholy, keeps us indoors. These actions, these feelings, are probably the most instinctive, atavistic qualities in us, what makes us mammals, like other creatures who hibernate through the winter. Hibernate means to spend winter in close quarters, in a dormant condition; literally from the Latin, to spend the winter.

This retiring, this seclusion, that is inherent in us, evokes for me our most natural impulses, back to man's beginnings: life in the caves. Winter was dangerous, threatening. It was safer inside by the fire, with only short excursions out into the elements, to hunt and gather, to obtain provisions. I wonder if our natural body clocks, and our metabolisms, slow down this time of year, to store enough energy to get us through.

Of course, nowadays our concerns over the dangers and hazards of deep winter are not nearly so great, but perhaps they have become metaphorical. People get depressed this time of year; some suffer from light deprivation. People just sometimes seem more reticent, as if the chill of winter has cooled their hearts.

A very different, but very exciting, element of our basic instincts, of our past selves, is appearing in fashion (and also in home decor). It is a trend I have been watching carefully for a while now (and I am happy to see it is not waning). It is the theme, motif, and evocation of the primitive, of the indigenous, of what I like to call "the rough hewn." We have seen its various interpretations in quite a number of the designers we have featured since our launch last March. I have also seen it in many of the past fall collections: Chanel's lovely outside seam edges on jackets, skirts, pants, and purses; Hermes' simple coarse fabric shifts; on Thierry Mugler's runway; the raw finish outer vests by Nicole Farhi, MaxMara, and Paul Smith; a rustic esthetic at Kenzo and Missoni; in a French haute couture way at Dior; in some of Dosa's cardigans; from some of the brilliant emerging Belgian designers. Accessories, like purses, shoes (Fendi's faux fur thongs, Gucci's feather-trimmed sandals, and Manolo Blahnik's incredible wolf-like shoe/bootie), hats, and jewelry made of unfinished skins, bark, and grasses, many adorned with primitive stitching, primitive beads, fringe and so on. I am excited to see this; I hope it continues for the spring. It would be most interesting to see the more delicate fabrics of the warmer weather interpreted this way.

We at Fashion Finds celebrate this indigenous, rough hewn, dramatic, sensational look in this continuing December/January issue with two of our designers in particular: Julieanne Mijares and Patricia Michaels. Julie's work ranges from the rough hewn, as you see vividly in the cover photograph of TLC, to the futuristic; yet the element of the hand-wrought (like the beautiful chamois outfits for the Dear Lie video on the cover) is always in evidence. Even in Left-Eye's cobalt blue costume for No Scrubs, the articulated hand and arm piece, the armorial knee pads, are futuristic, yet evoke the past. Julie's eye is very much tapped into this interesting new movement in fashion. And her eye is unique.

Patricia Michaels' beautiful clothes also have an indigenous feel; in her case it is the influence of her heritage and ancestors, the Pueblo Native Americans, that are her inspiration. She handcrafts the textiles, paints them, embellishes them with symbols or elements (like feathers), that are not merely adornment, but are profoundly symbolic and of great import -- the way clothing was in the past -- particularly ceremonial clothing. Don't miss either of these designers' visions.

In our two makeup articles, particularly The Human Canvas, I think you see the human form at its most organic, yet artful. A painted nude body becomes clothed in the most sensuous of ways, refined, yet primitive, raw. In Makeup Shibuya Style, you see the freedom of the expression of the artistic spirit; there are no rules, the face is intuited, and in some cases the makeup looks like war paint, tribal, ritualistic.

In Futurama, we delight in the various artists' interpretations of the future-future, the future-past, the alternate world. Here, too, in the costuming of the subjects, we see the blending of the primitive and the modern. All meld to create a world where time has a very different meaning, place and significance.

In the Top 5 of 5 -- our top 5 picks from 5 of your favorite mall stores -- which is new for January, the astute eye of our Kathy Martinez captures selections from the Gap, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, the Levi's Store, and Niketown, to bring us the most comfy, cozy, snuggly, and "just right for the time of year" sort of things. Don't forget to check it out.

Finally there is our article on color stay lipsticks. We test Revlon, Cover Girl, Maybelline and L'Oreal. See who fares the best. You may want to get into some good smooching by the fireplace around now, and chapping and smearing lipstick are to be avoided at all costs.

Yes, it can be a romantic time too, with short days of stark silhouetted trees, the lavender gray light that hits the buildings, and the long nights of brisk cold and ever so crystal-clear night skies. One can imagine all the winters before, through so many centuries, and how people spent them. What they wore, how they managed, how they passed the days, how they survived. I think it is why I resonate to the tribute that fashion is paying the past with the rough hewn. It is a sort of mixture of the sacred and profane; it is a looking back, but a looking all the way back that so intrigues me.

Happy hibernating,

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Sunday afternoon with Yaniv
By Dan Cooper
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