I was not invited to Hervé Leger by Max Azria — I was not invited to any of Max Azria's three Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week shows, which take place at Lincoln Center's largest fashion week venue twice annually, perhaps because last season when I was invited, I asked Max Azria why it is that he books almost exclusively white models. But there are other ways of getting into shows, and so it was that yesterday afternoon I had the privilege of observing next season's bandage dresses from the eighth row.
In addition to the aforementioned bandage dresses, this season Azria saw fit to visit upon us more separates than usual — like this little jacket.
A bandage dress is pretty much a bandage dress. Or is it? I wonder if Azria Fashion Services Inc. has a top-secret Bandage Dress Technology Development team, who while away their days — I imagine this at an undisclosed location, in the mountains somewhere - trying to find new ways of weaving, embellishing, cantilevering, studding, and otherwise joining together discrete lengths of elastic tape, in new and original configurations.
This season, apparently the Bandage Dress Technology Development team was very inspired by those rubberized place mats you can get at Ikea.
That and adding a rigid leather exoskeleton, those are your two main seasonal variations on your standard bandage dress.
Also, houndstooth-printed elastic.
Every time I think of Hervé Leger, I'm crippled by a years-old sensation of retail remorse. In what must have been 2006, I came across three dresses in an Iowa City thrift shop that proved to have been constructed entirely from lengths of black elastic. I tried each of them on. They fit, and they were by Hervé Leger — wasn't that an old French designer label that had gone out of business?
The dresses were all kind of early-90s-out, the kind of thing you'd imagine Cindy Crawford donning to go on a date with Richard Gere. One was kind of hopeless, with what can only be called an elastic mini-crini, and one had long, constricting sleeves, but there was one that kind of stood out - a square-necked, sleeveless, pencil-skirted mini-dress. But, ohmygod, it was incredibly sexy. Sexy in a way that I am most assuredly not. It was sexy like no garment I had owned, ever. Could I wear it to work? With a sweater? And tights? Doubtful. Did I have occasion to wear any such dresses, going into my sophomore year of college and working twenty hours a week at the local bookstore? Definitely not.
Also, the dress cost $50. My wages were $6.15/hr.
By the way? This model, Joan Smalls right here, was the only black model to walk in the show. Just sayin'.
So I left the Hervé Leger dresses hanging there, at that thrift store in the Old Capitol mall. I probably bought something really regrettable instead. I don't remember.
What I remember are those dresses, and how they made me feel — how they seemed to call forth something from within me, something I alone lacked the resources to marshal. Something cool and hot at the same time.
I can't believe I didn't fucking buy that dress.
I went back a week later. All three were gone. Even the tragic elastic mini-crini one.
And in 2007, Max Azria relaunched the Hervé Leger brand. Models and Kardashians and Real Housewives started turning up on assorted red carpets, wearing elastic-band dresses that looked a little bit like the one I had rejected the year before.
I kicked myself, then I made my peace.
This dress sort of looks like she started putting on elastic suspenders, then got tangled up.